He was owned by the three-bodied giant Geryon. Orthrus and his master, Eurytion, were charged with guarding Geryon's herd of red cattle in the "sunset" land of Erytheia ("red one"), one of the islands of the Hesperides in the far west of the Mediterranean. Heracles eventually slew Orthrus, Eurytion, and Geryon, before taking the red cattle to complete his tenth labor.
Orthrus was one among Echidna's fearsome brood listed in Hesiod's Theogony. According to some sources, it was he rather than Typhon that sired, with Echidna, further chthonic monstrous creatures: the Chimera, the Sphinx, the Lernaean Hydra, and even, Hesiod says, the Nemean lion, and Cerberus.
- Graves, Robert, 1960. The Greek Myths, ch. 34. Graves makes highly speculative connection of these creatures with the calendar.
- Kerényi, Carl, 1951. The Gods of the Greeks, 1951, p. 52.
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Orthrus"
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