By Griffin Buskill



When people think of the Underworld, they often conjure up images of fire, perhaps Charon the Ferryman to take you across the river Styx, or Hades himself. When a person died, their soul went to the underworld. There a large, three-headed dog allowed the souls to pass, but not to leave. This multi-headed dog is named Cerberus, and the only job he has ever had is to keep the souls of the dead in the Underworld. His muscular stature, three heads and constant hunger for meat present an intimidating image to keep the restless souls back where they belong, and he is one of the most frightening creatures in all of Greek and Roman mythology.



Cerberus was born of the monsters Echidna, a half serpent and half woman hybrid, and Typhon, a fire breathing giant who was feared by the gods. Not much is known about his early life, although at one point he was taken in by Hades to be used as a guard dog. Ever since he has become associated with the Underworld and even Hades himself.



Use in Mythology

Cerberus appears numerous times in Greek and Roman literature, but his most famous depictions are with Hercules, Orpheus, and Aneas. The notable deed about the former is that all three of those Heros were able to get around Cerberus. Hercules used his massive strength and forced Cerberus to the surface as the twelth and most dangerous of his labors. Orpheus was such a skilled musician that he lulled Cerberus to sleep, and then snuck around him to reclaim his wife. Aneas was able to tame Cerberus's insatiable hunger for meat with a honey cake and then snuck around him.

Hercules retrieving Cerberus

Modern References

Cerberus is often the proverbial guard dog in many modern mediums today. He is featured in Harry Potter as the guard dog under the name of "Fluffy". (Fluffy in Harry Potter)He also appears in many videogames as the names of evil orginizations, like in Mass Effect and Final Fantasy. Due to Cerberus's negative connotation and reputation for being a vicious guard dog, he is most often featured that way in modern media and literature.

The Cerberus Logo from Mass Effect

Title from Final Fantasy

Works Cited

  1. Wikipedia, 2011. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerberus.
  2. "Cerberus." Pantheon. N.p., 07 26 2009. Web. 4 May 2011. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/cerberus.html.

"Hercules's 12th labor." Perseus.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2011. <http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/cerberus.html>.