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This article is about the mythical dog. For other uses, see Cerberus (disambiguation).
Heracles presenting Cerberus to a frightened Eurystheus hiding in a pot. Etruscan hydria (c. 530 BC) from Caere (Louvre E701).[1]

In Greek mythology, Cerberus (/ˈsɜːrbərəs/;[2] Greek: Κέρβερος Kerberos [ˈkerberos]), often called the "hound of Hades", is a monstrous multi-headed dog, who guards the gates of the underworld, preventing the dead from leaving. He was the offspring of the monsters Echidna and Typhon, and is usually described as having three heads, a serpent for a tail, with snakes protruding from various parts of his body. Cerberus is primarily known for his capture by Heracles, one of Heracles' twelve labours.


Heracles, with chain in left hand, strokes a two-headed Cerberus with a snake protruding from each head and a snake tail; Athena stands, left arm extended, on the left. Etruscan amphora (c. 550–500 BC) from Vulci (Louvre F204).[3]

Descriptions of Cerberus vary, including the number of his heads. Cerberus was usually three-headed, though not always. Cerberus had a multi-headed heritage. His father was the multi snake-headed Typhon,[4] and Cerberus was the brother of three other multi-headed monsters, the multi-snake-headed Lernaean Hydra; Orthrus, the two-headed dog who guarded the Cattle of Geryon; and the Chimera, who had three heads, that of a lion, a goat, and a snake.[5] And, like these close relatives, Cerberus was, with only the rare iconographic exception, multi-headed.

In the earliest description of Cerberus, Hesiod's Theogony (c. 8th – 7th century BC), Cerberus has fifty heads, while Pindar (c. 522 – c. 443 BC) gave him one hundred heads.[6] However, later writers almost universally give Cerberus three heads.[7] An exception is the Latin poet Horace's Cerberus which has a single dog head, and one hundred snake heads.[8] Perhaps trying to reconcile these competing traditions, Apollodorus's Cerberus has three dog heads and the heads of "all sorts of snakes" along his back, while the Byzantine poet John Tzetzes (who probably based his account on Apollodorus) gives Cerberus fifty heads, three of which were dog heads, the rest being the "heads of other beasts of all sorts".[9]

In art Cerberus is most commonly depicted with two dog heads (visible), never more than three, and occasionally only one.[10] On one of the two earliest depictions (c. 590–580 BC), a cup from Argos, now lost, Cerberus is shown as a normal single-headed dog.[11] The first appearance of a three-headed Cerberus occurs on a mid sixth century BC cup from Laconia.[12]

Horace's many snake-headed Cerberus followed a long tradition of Cerberus being part snake. This is perhaps already implied as early as in Hesiod's Theogony, where Cerberus' mother is the half-snake Echidna, and his father the snake-headed Typhon. In art Cerberus is often shown as being part snake,[13] for example the lost Argos cup shows snakes protruding from Cerberus' body, while the mid sixth-century BC Laconian cup gives Cerberus a snake for a tail. In the literary record, the first certain indication of Cerberus' serpentine nature comes from the rationalized account of Hecataeus of Miletus (fl. 500–494 BC), who makes Cerberus a large poisonous snake.[14] Plato refers to Cerberus' composite nature,[15] and Euphorion of Chalcis (3rd century BC) describes Cerberus as having multiple snake tails,[16] and presumably in connection to his serpentine nature, associates Cerberus with the creation of the poisonous aconite plant.[17] Virgil has snakes writhe around Cerberus' neck,[18] Ovid's Cerberus has a venomous mouth,[19] necks "vile with snakes",[20] and "hair inwoven with the threatening snake",[21] while Seneca gives Cerberus a mane consisting of snakes, and a single snake tail.[22]

Cerberus was given various other traits. According to Euripides, Cerberus not only had three heads but three bodies,[23] and according to Virgil he had multiple backs.[24] Cerberus ate raw flesh (according to Hesiod),[25] had eyes which flashed fire (according to Euphorion), a three-tongued mouth (according to Horace) and acute hearing (according to Seneca).[26]

The Twelfth Labour of Heracles[edit]

Athena, Hermes and Heracles, leading a two-headed Cerberus out of the underworld, as Persephone looks on. From a hydria (c. 550–500 BC) attributed to the Leagros Group (Louvre CA 2992).[27]

As early as Homer we learn that Heracles was sent by Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns, to bring back Cerberus from Hades.[28] According to Apollodorus, this was the twelfth and final labour imposed on Heracles.[29] In a fragment from a lost play Pirithous, (attributed to either Euripides or Critias) Heracles says that, although Eurystheus commanded him to bring back Cerberus, it was not from any desire to see Cerberus, but only because Eurystheus thought that the task was impossible.[30]

Heracles was aided in his mission by his being an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Euripides has his initiation being "lucky" for Heracles in capturing Cerberus.[31] And both Diodorus Siculus and Apollodorus say that Heracles was initiated into the Mysteries, in preparation for his descent into the underworld. According to Diodorus, Heracles went to Athens, where Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, was in charge of the initiation rites,[32] while according to Apollodorus, he went to Eumolpus at Eleusis.[33]

Heracles also had the help of Athena and Hermes. In the Odyssey, Homer has Athena and Hermes as his guides.[34] And Athena and Hermes, are often shown with Heracles on vase paintings depicting Cerberus' capture.[35] By most accounts, Heracles made his descent into the underworld through an entrance at Tainaron, the most famous of the various Greek entrances to the underworld.[36] The place is first mentioned in connection with the Cerberus story in the rationalized account of Hecataeus of Miletus (fl. 500–494 BC), and Euripides, Seneca, and Apolodorus, all have Heracles descend into the underworld there.[37] However Xenophon reports that Heracles was said to have descended at the Acherusian Chersonese near Heraclea Pontica, on the Black Sea, a place more usually associated with Heracles' exit from the underworld (see below).[38] Heraclea, founded c. 560 BC, perhaps took its name from the association of its site with Heracles' Cerberian exploit.[39]

Theseus and Pirithous[edit]

While in the underworld, Heracles met the heroes Theseus and Pirithous, where the two companions were being held prisoner by Hades for attempting to carry off Persephone, and, along with bringing back Cerberus, Heracles also managed (usually) to rescue Theseus, and in some versions Pirithous as well.[40] According to Apollodorus, Heracles found Theseus and Pirithous near the gates of Hades, bound to the "Chair of Forgetfulness, to which they grew and were held fast by coils of serpents", and when they saw Heracles, "they stretched out their hands as if they should be raised from the dead by his might", and Heracles was able to free Theseus, but when he tried to raise up Pirithous, "the earth quaked and he let go."[41]

The earliest evidence for the involvement of Theseus and Pirithous in the Cerberus story, is found on a shield-band relief (c. 560 BC) from Olympia, where Theseus and Pirithous (named) are seated together on a chair, arms held out in supplication, while Heracles approaches, about to draw his sword.[42] The earliest literary mention of the rescue occurs in Euripides, where Heracles saves Theseus (with no mention of Pirithous).[43] In the lost play Pirithous, both heroes are rescued,[44] while in the rationalized account of Philochorus, Heracles was able to rescue Theseus, but not Pirithous.[45] In one place Diodorus says Heracles brought back both Theseus and Pirithous, by the favor of Persephone,[46] while in another he says that Pirithous remained in Hades, or according to "some writers of myth" that neither Theseus, nor Pirithous returned.[47] Both are rescued in Hyginus.[48]

Capture of Cerberus[edit]

An amphora from Kameiros, Rhodes (c. 575–525 BC) depicting Athena, Heracles, and a two-headed Cerberus, Hermes (not shown in the photograph) stands to the left of Athena (Louvre A481).[49]

There are various versions of how Heracles accomplished Cerberus' capture.[50] According to Apollodorus, Heracles asked Hades for Cerberus, and Hades told Heracles he would allow him to take Cerberus only if he "mastered him without the use of the weapons which he carried", and so, using his lion-skin as shield, Heracles squeezed Cerberus around the head until he submitted.[51]

In some early sources Cerberus' capture seems to involve Heracles fighting Hades. Homer has Hades injured by an arrow shot by Heracles, while on the early sixth-century BC lost Argos cup, Heracles is shown attacking Hades with a stone.[52] A scholium to the Iliad passage, explains that Hades had commanded that Heracles "master Cerberus without shield or Iron". Heracles did this, by (as in Apollodorus) using his lion-skin instead of his shield, and making stone points for his arrows, but when Hades still opposed him, Heracles shot Hades in anger.[53] Consistent with the no iron requirement, the iconographic tradition, from c. 560 BC, often shows Heracles using his wooden club against Cerberus.[54]

Euripides, has Amphitryon ask Heracles: "Did you conquer him in fight, or receive him from the goddess [i.e. Persephone]? To which, Heracles answers: "In fight",[55] and the Pirithous fragment says that Heracles "overcame the beast by force".[56] However, according to Diodorus, Persphone welcomed Heracles "like a brother" and gave Cerberus "in chains" to Heracles.[57] Aristophanes, has Heracles seize Cerberus in a stranglehold and run off,[58] while Seneca has Heracles again use his lion-skin as shield, and his wooden club, to subdue Cerberus, after which a quailing Hades and Persephone, allow Heracles to lead a chained and submissive Cerberus away.[59] Cerberus is often shown being chained, and Ovid tells that Heracles dragged Cerberus with chains of adamant.[60]

Exit from the underworld[edit]

There were several locations which were said to be the place where Heracles brought up Cerberus from the underworld.[61] The geographer Strabo (63/64 BC – c. AD 24) reports that "according to the myth writers" Cerberus was brought up at Tainaron,[62] the same place where Euripides has Heracles enter the underworld. Seneca has Heracles enter and exit at Tainaron.[63] Apollodorus, although he has Heracles enter at Tainaron, has him exit at Troezen.[64] The geographer Pausanias tells us that there was a temple at Troezen with "altars to the gods said to rule under the earth", where it was said that, in addition to Cerberus being "dragged" up by Heracles, Semele was supposed to have been been brought up out of the underworld by Dionysus.[65]

Another tradition had Cerberus brought up at Heraclea Pontica (the same place which Xenophon had earlier associated with Heracles' descent) and the cause of the poisonous plant aconite which grew there in abundance.[66] Herodorus of Heraclea and Euphorion said that when Heracles brought Cerberus up from the underworld at Heraclea, Cerberus "vomited bile" from which the aconite plant grew up.[67] Ovid, also makes Cerberus the cause of the poisonous aconite, saying that on the "shores of Scythia", upon leaving the underworld, as Cerberus was being dragged by Heracles from a cave, dazzled by the unaccustomed daylight, Cerberus spewed out a "poison-foam", which made the aconite plants growing there poisonous.[68] Seneca's Cerberus too, like Ovid's, reacts violently to his first sight of daylight. Enraged, the previously submissive Cerberus struggles furiously, and Heracles and Theseus must together drag Cerberus into the light.[69]

Pausanias reports that according to local legend Cerberus was brought up through a chasm in the earth dedicated to Clymenus (Hades) next to the sanctuary of Chthonia at Hermione, and in Euripides' Heracles, thought Euripides does not say that Cerberus was brought out there, he has Cerberus kept for a while in the "grove of Chthonia" at Hermione.[70] Pausanias also mentions that at Mount Laphystion in Boeotia, that there was a statue of Heracles Charops ("with bright eyes"), where the Boeotians said Heracles brought up Cerberus.[71] Other locations which perhaps were also associated with Cerberus being brought out of the underworld include, Hierapolis, Thesprotia, and Emeia near Mycenae.[72]

Cerberus presented to Eurystheus, returned to Hades[edit]

In some accounts, after bringing Cerberus up from the underworld, Heracles paraded the captured Cerberus through Greece.[73] Euphorion, has Heracles lead Cerberus through Midea in Argolis, as women and children watch in fear,[74] and Diodorus Siculus says of Cerberus, that Heracles "carried him away to the amazement of all and exhibited him to men."[75] while Seneca has Juno complain of Heracles "highhandedly parading the black hound through Argive cities."[76] and has Heracles greeted by laurel-wreathed crowds, "singing" his praises.

Then, according to Apollodorus, Heracles showed Cerberus to Eurystheus, as commanded, after which he returned Cerberus to the underworld.[77] However, according Hesychius of Alexandria, Cerberus escaped, presumably returning to the underworld on his own.[78]

Principal sources[edit]

The earliest mentions of Cerberus (c. 8th – 7th century BC) occur in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Hesiod's Theogony.[79] Homer does not name or describe Cerberus, but simply refers to Heracles being sent by Eurystheus to fetch the "hound of Hades", with Hermes and Athena as his guides,[80] and that Heracles shot Hades with an arrow.[81]

According to Hesiod, Cerberus was the offspring of the monsters Echidna and Typhon, was fifty-headed, ate raw flesh, and was the "brazen-voiced hound of Hades",[82] who fawns on those that enter the house of Hades, but eats those who try to leave.[83]

Stesichorus (c. 630 – 555 BC) apparently wrote a poem called Cerberus, of which virtually nothing remains.[84] However, the earliest artistic depiction, found on an early sixth century BC cotyla cup from Argos (now lost), which showed a single head, and snakes growing out from many places on his body,[85] was possibly influenced by Stesichorus' poem.[86] A mid-sixth-century BC cup from Laconia gives Cerberus three heads and a snake tail, which eventually becomes the standard representation.[87] Hecataeus of Miletus (fl. 550–494 BC), rationalized Cerberus as a large poisonous snake, which lived on Tainaron, and was called the hound of Hades because anyone bitten by it died immediately.[88]

Pindar (c. 522 – c. 443 BC) apparently gave Cerberus one hundred heads.[89] Bacchylides (5th century BC) also mentions Heracles bringing Cerberus up from the underworld, with no further details.[90] Sophocles (c. 495 - c. 405 BC), in his Women of Trachis, makes Cerberus three-headed,[91] and in his Oedipus at Colonus, the Chorus asks that Oedipus be allowed to pass the gates of the underworld undisturbed by Cerberus, called here the "untamable Watcher of Hades".[92] Euripides (c. 480 – 406 BC) describes Cerberus as three-headed,[93] and three-bodied,[94] says that Heracles entered the underworld at Tainaron,[95] has Heracles say that Cerberus was not given to him by Persephone, but rather he fought and conquered Cerberus, "for I had been lucky enough to witness the rites of the initiated", an apparent reference to his initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries,[96] and says that the capture of Cerberus was the last of Heracles' labors.[97] The lost play Pirthous (attributed to either Euripides or his late contemporary Critias) has Heracles say that he came to the underworld at the command of Eurystheus, who had ordered him to bring back Cerberus alive, not because he wanted to see Cerberus, but only because Eurystheus thought Heracles would not be able to accomplish the task, and that Heracles "overcame the beast" and "received favour from the gods".[98]

Plato (c. 425 – 348 BC) refers to Cerberus' composite nature, citing Cerberus, along with Scylla and the Chimera, as an example from "ancient fables" of a creature composed of many animal forms "grown together in one".[99] Euphorion of Chalcis (3rd century BC) describes Cerberus as having multiple snake tails, and eyes that flashed, like sparks from a blacksmith's forge, or the volcaninc Mount Etna.[100] From Euphorion, also comes the first mention of a story which told that at Heraclea Pontica, where Cerberus was brought out of the underworld, by Heracles, Cerberus "vomited bile" from which the poisonous aconite plant grew up.[101]

According to Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), the capture of Cerberus was the eleventh of Heracles' labors, the twelfth and last being stealing the Apples of the Hesperides.[102] Diodorus says that Heracles thought it best to first go to Athens to take part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, "Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, being at that time in charge of the initiatory rites", after which, he entered into into the underworld "welcomed like a brother by Persephone", and "receiving the dog Cerberus in chains he carried him away to the amazement of all and exhibited him to men."

Virgil (70 – 19 BC) in the Aeneid (1st century BC) describes Cerberus as "triple-throated", having multiple "large backs", with serpents writhing around his neck, and has the Sybyl throw Cerberus a loaf laced with honey and herbs to induce sleep, enabling Aeneas to enter the underworld, and so apparently for Virgil—contradicting Hesiod—Cerberus guarded the underworld against entrance.[103] In his Georgics, Virgil refers to Cerberus, his "triple jaws agape" being tamed by Orpheus' playing his lyre.[104]

Horace (65 – 8 BC) also refers to Cerberus yielding to Orphesus' lyre, here Cerberus has a single dog head, which "like a Fury's is fortified by a hundred snakes", with a "triple-tongued mouth" oozing "fetid breath and gore".[105]

Ovid (43 BC – AD 17/18) has Cerberus' mouth produce venom,[106] and like Euphorion, makes Cerberus the cause of the poisonous plant aconite.[107] According to Ovid, Heracles dragged Cerberus from the underworld, emerging from a cave "where 'tis fabled, the plant grew / on soil infected by Cerberian teeth", and dazzled by the daylight, Cerberus spewed out a "poison-foam", which made the aconite plants growing there poisonous.

Seneca, in his tragedy Hercules Furens gives a detailed description of Cerberus and his capture.[108] Seneca's Cerberus has three heads, a mane of snakes, and a snake tail, with his three heads being covered in gore, and licked by the many snakes which surround them, and with hearing so acute that he can hear "even ghosts".[109] Seneca has Heracles use his lion-skin as shield, and his wooden club, to beat Cerberus into submission, after which Hades and Persephone, quailing on their thrones, let Heracles lead a chained and submissive Cerberus away. But upon leaving the underworld, at his first sight of daylight, a frightened Cerberus struggles furiously, and Heracles, with the help of Theseus (who had been held captive by Hades, but released, at Heracles' request) drag Cerberus into the light.[110] Seneca, like Diodorus, has Heracles parade the captured Cerberus through Greece.[111]

Apollodorus' Cerberus has three dog-heads, a serpent for a tail, and the heads of many snakes on his back.[112] According to Apollodorus, Heracles' twelfth and final labor was to bring back Cerberus from Hades. Heracles first went to Eumolpus to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries. Upon his entering the underworld, all the dead flee Heracles except for Meleager and the Gorgon Medusa. Heracles drew his sword against Medusa, but Hermes told Heracles that the dead are mere "empty phantoms". Heracles asked Hades (here called Pluto) for Cerberus, and Hades said that Heracles could take Cerberus provided he was able to subdue him without using weapons. Heracles found Cerberus at the gates of Acheron, and with his arms around Cerberus, though being bitten by Cerberus' serpent tail, Heracles squeezed until Cerberus submitted. Heracles carried Cerberus away, showed him to Eurystheus, then returned Cerberus to the underworld.

Representations of Cerberus[edit]

In literature[edit]

In Dante Alighieri's Inferno, Canto VI, the "great worm" Cerberus is found in the Third Circle of Hell, where he oversees and rends to pieces those who have succumbed to gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins.[113]

In art[edit]

Numerous references to Cerberus have appeared in ancient Greek and Roman art,[114] found in archaeological ruins and often including in statues and architecture, inspired by the mythology of the creature. Cerberus' depiction in ancient art is not as definitive as in literature; the poets and linguists of ancient Greece and Rome mostly agreed on the physical appearance (with the notable exception mentioned above in Hesiod's Theogony in which he had 50 heads). His depiction in classical art mostly shows the recurring motif of serpents, but the number of heads differs. A statue in the Galleria Borghese depicts Cerberus with three heads sitting by the side of Hades, while a bronze sculpture depicting Heracles' twelfth labour shows the demi-god leading a two-headed Cerberus from the underworld. The majority of vases depicting the twelfth task also show Cerberus as having two heads. Classical critics have identified one of the earliest works of Cerberus as "the most imaginative," that being a Laconian vase created around 560 BC in which Cerberus is shown with three-heads and with rows of serpents covering his body and heads.[115]

Detail of sculpture of god Hades with Cerberus
Cerberus with Psyche.
Coat of arms of Cerbère town, France, with Cerberus in the lower left canton.
Cerberus, as illustrated by Gustave Doré in Dante's Divine Comedy.


The name "Cerberus" is a Latinised version of the Greek Kerberos. The etymology is uncertain. Ogden[116] refers to attempts to establish an Indo-European etymology as "not yet successful". It has been claimed to be related to the Sanskrit word सर्वरा sarvarā, used as an epithet of one of the dogs of Yama, from a Proto-Indo-European word *k̑érberos, meaning "spotted".[117] Lincoln (1991),[118] among others, critiques this etymology. Lincoln notes a similarity between Cerberus and the Norse mythological dog Garmr, relating both names to a Proto-Indo-European root *ger- "to growl" (perhaps with the suffixes -*m/*b and -*r). However, as Ogden observes, this analysis actually requires Kerberos and Garmr to be derived from two different Indo-European roots (*ker- and *gher- respectively), and so does not actually establish a relationship between the two names.

Explanations of Cerberus' form[edit]

Various classical explanations for Cerberus having three heads have been given.[119] A 2nd century AD Greek known as Heraclitus the paradoxographer (not to be confused with the 5th century BC Greek philosopher Heraclitus) - claimed euhemeristically that Cerberus had two pups that were never away from their father, which made Cerberus appear to be three-headed.[120] Mythologers have speculated that if Cerberus were given his name in Trikarenos it could be interpreted as "three karenos".


In the constellation Cerberus introduced by Johannes Hevelius in 1687, Cerberus is drawn as a three-headed snake, held in Hercules' hand (previously these stars had been depicted as a branch of the tree on which grew the Apples of the Hesperides).[121]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LIMC Herakles 2616 (Smallwood, pp. 92, 98); Ogden 2013b, p. 63; Ogden 2013a, p. 105; Gantz, p. 22; Perseus Louvre E 701 (Vase).
  2. ^ "Cerberus". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  3. ^ LIMC Herakles 2554 (Smallwood, pp. 87, 98); Schefold pp. 130–131, fig. 152; Beazley Archive 200011; Perseus Louvre F 204 (Vase).
  4. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 300–314, Acusilaus, fragment 6 (Freeman, p. 15), Hyginus, Fabulae Preface, 151, and Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica (or Fall of Troy) 6.260–268 (pp. 272–275) all have Cerberus as the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, while Bacchylides, Ode 5.56–62, Sophocles, Women of Trachis 1097–1099, Callimachus, fragment 515 Pfeiffer (Trypanis, pp. 258–259), and Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.500–501, 7.406–409 all have Cerberus as the offspring of Echidna without naming a father.
  5. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 309–324 (although it is not certain whom Hesiod meant as the mother of the Chimera: Echidna, the Hydra, or Ceto); Apollodorus, 2.5.10, 2.3.1; Hyginus, Fabulae Preface.
  6. ^ Gantz p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 105, with n. 182; Hesiod, Theogony 311–312; Pindar, fragment F249a/b SM, from a lost Pindar poem on Heracles in the underworld, according to a scholia on the Iliad.
  7. ^ Ogden 2013a, pp. 105–106, with n. 183; Sophocles, Women of Trachis 22–25 ("three-bodied"), 1097–1099; Euripides, Heracles 610–611, 1276–1278; Virgil, Aeneid 6.417–421 ("triple-throated", "three fierce mouths"), Georgics 4.483 ("triple jaws"); Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.449–451 ("three-visaged mouths", "triple-barking"), 9.185 ("triple form"), 10.21–22 ("three necks"), 10.65–66 ("triple necks"), Heroides 9.93–94 (pp. 114–115) ("three-fold"); Seneca, Agamemnon 859–862 (pp. 198–199) ("triple chains"), Hercules Furens 60–62 (pp. 52–53) ("triple necks"), 782–784 (pp. 110–111); Statius, Silvae 2.1.183–184 (I pp. 90–91) ("triple jaws"), 3.3.27 (I pp. 168–169) ("threefold"), Thebaid, 2.31 (I pp. 396–397), ("threefold"), 2.53 (I pp. 398–399) ("tri-formed"); Propertius, Elegies 3.5.44 (pp. 234–237) ("three throats"), 3.18.23 (pp. 284–285) ("three heads") Apollodorus, 2.5.12 ("three heads of dogs").
  8. ^ West, David, p. 108; Ogden 2013a, p. 107; Horace, Odes 3.11.17–20 (West,David, pp. 101–103) ("a hundred snakes ... triple-tongued"), Odes 2.13.33–36 ("hundred-headed"), Odes 2.19.29–32 ("triple tongue").
  9. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12; Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.389–392 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56; English translation: Berkowitz, p. 33); Frazer's note 1 to Apollodorus, 2.5.12.
  10. ^ Smallwood, p. 87; Gantz, p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 106. According to Gantz, "Presumably the frequent variant of two heads arose from logistical problems in draftmanship," and Ogden wonders if "such images salute or establish a tradition of a two-headed Cerberus, or are we to imagine a third head concealed behind the two that can be seen?" For one-headed Cerberus, see LIMC Herakles 2553, 2570, 2576, 2591, 2621.
  11. ^ LIMC Herakles 2553 (Smallwood, p. 87); Gantz, p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 106, with n. 184. LIMC Herakles 2621 (Smallwood, p. 92), a relief pithos fragment (c. 590–570 BC) seems to show a single lion-headed Cerberus, with snake (open-mouthed) over his back.
  12. ^ LIMC Herakles 2605 (Smallwood, p. 91); Gantz, p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 106, with n. 185.
  13. ^ Ogden 2013b, p. 63.
  14. ^ Hecataeus of Miletus, FGrH 1 F27 (apud Pausanias, 3.25.5); Ogden 2013a, p. 107.
  15. ^ Plato Republic 588c.
  16. ^ Euphorian, fragment 71 Lightfoot (Lightfoot, pp. 300–303; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70); Ogden 2013a, p. 107.
  17. ^ Euphorion, fragment 41a Lightfoot, (Lightfoot, pp. 272–275 = Herodorus fragment 31 Fowler).
  18. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 6.419,
  19. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.500–501.
  20. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.22–24
  21. ^ Ovid, Heroides 9.93–94 (pp. 114–115).
  22. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 785–812 (pp. 112–113). See also Lucan, Pharsalia 6.664–665, which has Cerberus' heads "bristling" with snakes; and Apollodorus, 2.5.12 whose Cerberus is snake-tailed and has "on his back the heads of all sorts of snakes".
  23. ^ Euripides Heracles 22–25.
  24. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 6.422.
  25. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 311.
  26. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 788–791 (pp. 112–113).
  27. ^ LIMC Herakles 2599ad; Beazley Archive 302005. Reproduced from Baumeister's Denkmäler des klassichen Alterthums, volume I., figure 730 (text on p. 663).
  28. ^ Homer, Iliad 8.367–368; compare with Odyssey 11.620–626. Heracles is also given the task by Eurystheus in Hecataeus of Miletus, FGrH 1 F27 (apud Pausanias, 3.25.5), Euripides, Heracles 1276–1278, Pirithous TrGF 43 F1 lines 10–14 (Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70; Collard and Cropp, pp. 646–647); Euphorian, fragment 71 Lightfoot (Lightfoot, pp. 300–303; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70); Diodorus Siculus, 4.25.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 32.
  29. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12. So also in Euphorian, fragment 71 Lightfoot 13 (Lightfoot, pp. 300–303; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70), and Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.388–410 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56; English translation: Berkowitz, p. 33). Euripides, Heracles 22–25, calls this labor the last. However according to Diodorus Siculus, 4.25.2 this labor was the eleventh and next to last, the twelfth being stealig the Apples of the Hesperides.
  30. ^ Pirthous TrGF 43 F1 lines 10–14 (Ogden 2013b, p. 70; Collard and Cropp, pp. 646–647); Ogden 2013a, p. 113.
  31. ^ Euripides Heracles 612–613; Papadopoulou, p. 163.
  32. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.25.1–2.
  33. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12; so also, Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.394 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56; English translation: Berkowitz, p. 33). Apollodorus adds that, since it was unlawful for foreigners to be initiated, Heracles was adopted by Pylius, and that before Heracles could be initiated, he first had to be "cleansed of the slaughter of the centaurs"; see also Frazer's note 2 to Apollodorus, 2.5.12.
  34. ^ Homer, Odyssey 11.620–626; compare with Pausanias, 8.18.3. Apollodorus, 2.5.1 also has Hermes aiding Heracles in the underworld.
  35. ^ Examples include: Boston 28.46 (LIMC Herakles 2556, Beazley Archive 302270), BM 1893.7-12.11 (LIMC Herakles 2603, Beazley Archive 302997), Edinburg 1881.44.27 (LIMC Herakles 2581, Beazley Archive 301604), Louvre A481 (Beazley Archive 10772), CA 2992 (LIMC Herakles 2599ad, Beazley Archive 302005), Met 06.1021.78 (LIMC Herakles 2587ad, Beazley Archive 3764), Munich 2306 (LIMC Herakles 2602, Beazley Archive 202086), Toledo 1950.261 (LIMC Herakles 2593, Beazley Archive 701), 1969.371 (LIMC Herakles 2599, Beazley Archive 701), Vatican 372 (LIMC Herakles 2561, Beazley Archive 302102).
  36. ^ Ogden 2013a, p. 110; Fowler 2013, p. 305 with n. 159. An entrance at Tainaron is mentioned as early as Pindar, Pythian 4.44.
  37. ^ Hecataeus of Miletus, FGrH 1 F27 (apud Pausanias, 3.25.5); Euripides, Heracles 22–25; Seneca, Hercules Furens 662–696 (pp. 102–105); Apollodorus, 2.5.1, so also, Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.395 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56; English translation: Berkowitz, p. 33).
  38. ^ Xenophon of Athens, Anabasis 6.2.2.
  39. ^ Ogden 2013a, p. 108.
  40. ^ Gantz, pp. 291–295.
  41. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12, E.1.24; compare with Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.396–410, 4.31.911–916 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56, 153; English translation: Berkowitz, pp. 33, 93).
  42. ^ LIMC Herakles 3519; Gantz, p. 292.
  43. ^ Euripides Heracles 1169–1170., :1221–1222; Gantz, p. 293.
  44. ^ Gantz, P. 293; Collard and Cropp, p. 637; Pirithous TrGF 43 F1 Hypothesis (Collard and Cropp, pp. 640–641).
  45. ^ Philochorus, FGrH 328 F18a, b, c; Harding, pp. 67–70; Ogden 2013b, p. 73; Ogden 2013a, p. 109 (Philochorus F18a = Plutarch, Theseus 35.1, compare with 31.1–4).
  46. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.26.1.
  47. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.63.4; Gantz, pp. 294–295.
  48. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 79.
  49. ^ Beazley Archive 10772.
  50. ^ Ogden 2013a, pp. 110–112.
  51. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.1; compare with Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.400–401 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56; English translation: Berkowitz, p. 33) which says that Heracles mastered Cerberus "Covered only by his lion skin and breast piece / Apart from the rest of his weapons, just as Pluton [i.e. Hades] said".
  52. ^ Homer, Iliad 5.395–397; Ogden 2013a, pp. 110–111. Panyassis F26 West (West, M. L., (pp. 212–213) has "Elean Hades" being shot by Heracles. Compare with Seneca, Hercules Furens 48–51 (pp. 52–53), where Heracles brings back "spoils of triumph over that conquered king ... subdued Dis".
  53. ^ Schol. Homer Iliad 5.395–397 (Ogden 2013b, p. 66); Ogden 2013a, p. 112.
  54. ^ Ogden 2013a, p. 111.
  55. ^ Euripides Heracles 610–613; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70. This question is echoed in Seneca, Hercules Furens 760–761 (pp. 110–111), where Amphitryon asks "Is it spoil [Heracles] brings, or a willing gift from his uncle.
  56. ^ Pirithous TrGF 43 F1 Hypothesis (Collard and Cropp, pp. 640–641).
  57. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.26.1.
  58. ^ Aristophanes, Frogs 465–469; Ogden 2013b, pp. 65–66.
  59. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 797–812 (pp. 112–113).
  60. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.409–413.
  61. ^ Ogden 2013a, pp. 107–108, 112–113.
  62. ^ Strabo, 8.5.1.
  63. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 663 (pp. 102–105) (entrance), 813 (pp. 112–113) (exit). Seneca's account may reflect a much older tradition rationalized by Hecataeus of Miletus, FGrH 1 F27 (apud Pausanias, 3.25.5), see Ogden 2013a, p. 112.
  64. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12. Tzetzes, Chiliades 2.36.404 (Greek: Kiessling, pp. 55–56; English translation: Berkowitz, p. 33) also has Cerberus brought up at Troezen.
  65. ^ Pausanias, 2.31.2.
  66. ^ Ogden 2013a, pp. 107–108, 112; Ogden 2013b, pp. 68–69; Fowler 2013, pp. 305 ff.; Herodorus fragment 31 Fowler (= Euphorion fragment 41a Lightfoot); Euphorion, fragment 41 Lightfoot (Lightfoot, pp. 272–275); Diodorus Siculus, 14.31.3; Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.406–419; Pomponius Mela, 1.92; Pliny, Natural History 27.4; Schol. Nicander alexipharmaca 13b; Dionysius Periegetes, 788–792; Eustathius, Comentary on Dionysius Periegetes 788–792; First Vatican Mythographer, 1.57 (Ogden 2013b, pp. 73–74). For aconite in the vicinity of Heraclea, see also Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum 9.16.4 pp. 298–299; Strabo, 12.3.7; Pliny, Natural History 6.4; Arrian, FGrH 156 F76a apud Eustathius of Thessalonica, Commentary on Dionysius Periegetes 788–792.
  67. ^ Schol. Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica 2.353 (Ogden 2013b, p. 68); compare with Euphorion, fragment 41a Lightfoot, (Lightfoot, pp. 272–275 = Herodorus fragment 31 Fowler).
  68. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.413–419, which has Ceberus brought up from the underworld through a cave on "the shores of Scythia, where, 'tis fabled, the [aconite] plant grew on soil infected by Cerberian teeth."
  69. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 797–821 (pp. 112–115); see also Agamemnon, 859–862 (pp. 198–199), which has Cerberus "fearing the colour of the unknown light."
  70. ^ Pausanias, 2.35.10; Euripides, Heracles 615 (Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70).
  71. ^ Pausanias, 9.34.5.
  72. ^ Ogden 2013a, pp. 112–113.
  73. ^ Ogden 2013a, p. 113; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–71.
  74. ^ Euphorian, fragment 71 Lightfoot 14–15 (Lightfoot, pp. 300–303; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70).
  75. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.26.1.
  76. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 46–62 (pp. 52–53).
  77. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12.
  78. ^ Hesychius of Alexandria s.v. eleutheron hydor (Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–71); Ogden 2013a, p. 114.
  79. ^ For a discussion of sources see Ogden 2013a, pp. 104–114; Ogden 2013b, pp. 63–74; Gantz, pp. 22–23.
  80. ^ Homer, Iliad 8.367–368, Odyssey 11.620–626.
  81. ^ Homer, Iliad 5.395–397.
  82. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 300–312.
  83. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 767–774; Ogden 2013b, pp. 65.
  84. ^ Bowra, p. 94; Ogden 2013a, p. 105 n. 182.
  85. ^ Gantz, p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 106, with n. 184; LIMC Herakles 2553.
  86. ^ Bowra, p. 120.
  87. ^ Gantz, p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 106, with n. 185; LIMC Herakles 2605.
  88. ^ Hecataeus of Miletus, FGrH 1 F27 (apud Pausanias, 3.25.5); Hopman, p. 182; Ogden 2013a, p. 107; Ogden 2013b, pp. 72–73. Pausanias 3.25.6 points out that, since Homer does not describe Cerberus, Hecataeus' account does not necessarily conflict with Homer's, saying that Homer's "Hound of Hades" may not in fact refer to an actual dog.
  89. ^ Pindar fragment F249a/b SM, from a lost Pindar poem on Heracles in the underworld, according to a scholia on the Iliad, Gantz p. 22; Ogden 2013a, p. 105, with n. 182.
  90. ^ Bacchylides, Ode 5.56–62.
  91. ^ Sophocles, Women of Trachis 1097–1099.
  92. ^ Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 1568–1578; Markantonatos, pp. 129–130.
  93. ^ Euripides Heracles 1276–1278.
  94. ^ Euripides Heracles 22–25.
  95. ^ Euripides Heracles 22–25.
  96. ^ Euripides Heracles 612–613; Papadopoulou, p. 163; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70.
  97. ^ Euripides Heracles 22–25.
  98. ^ Pirithous TrGF 43 F1 Hypothesis (Collard and Cropp, pp. 640–641). For the question of authorship see Gantz, p. 293; Collard and Cropp, pp. 629–635, p. 636.
  99. ^ Plato Republic 588c.
  100. ^ Euphorian, fragment 71 Lightfoot (Lightfoot, pp. 300–303; Ogden 2013b, pp. 69–70); Ogden 2013a, p. 107.
  101. ^ Schol. Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica 2.353 (Ogden 2013b, p. 68); compare with Euphorion, fragment 41a Lightfoot (Lightfoot, pp. 272–275).
  102. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 4.25.1, 26.1–2; Ogden 2013b, p. 66.
  103. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 6.417–425; Ogden 2013b, p. 71; Ogden 2013a, p, 109; Ogden 2013b, p. 69. Compare with Apuleius, Metamorphoses 6.19 (pp. 284–285), where following Virgil, exiting (as well as entering) the underworld is accomplished by giving Cerberus a mead-soaked barley cake.
  104. ^ Virgil, Georgics 4.483.
  105. ^ Horace, Odes 3.11.13–20; West, David, pp. 101–103; Ogden 2013a, p. 108. Compare with Odes 2.13.33–36 ("hundred-headed", referring perhaps to the one hundred snakes), Odes 2.19.29–32 ("triple tongue").
  106. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.500–501.
  107. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.406 ff.; Ogden 2013a, p. 108.
  108. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 782–821 (pp. 110–115); Ogden 2013b, pp. 66–68.
  109. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 782–791 (pp. 110–113).
  110. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 797–821 (pp. 112–115); see also Agamemnon, 859–862 (pp. 198–199), which has Cerberus "fearing the colour of the unknown light."
  111. ^ Seneca, Hercules Furens 46–62 (pp. 52–53).
  112. ^ Apollodorus, 2.5.12; Ogden 2013b, pp. 64–65.
  113. ^ Dante. Divine Comedy Inferno, canto VI
  114. ^ Bloomfield, pp. 534–525
  115. ^ Lenardon, Robert; Morford, Mark; Sham, Michael (1997). A Companion to Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514725-1. 
  116. ^ Ogden 2013a, p. 105.
  117. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q. (2006). "Chapter 25.10: Death and the Otherworld". Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford, GBR: Oxford University Press. p. 439. ISBN 9780199287918. OCLC 139999117. 
  118. ^ Lincoln, pp. 96–97.
  119. ^ Bloomfield, pp. 7–8, which describes all such explanations as "feeble and foolishly reasonable."
  120. ^ Ogden 2013b, p. 73.
  121. ^ "Ian Ridpath, "Star Tales"". Ianridpath.com. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 


External links[edit]

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