In ancient Greek mythology, there exists a three headed dog called Cerberus that guards the entrance to Hades, a misty and gloomy Underworld in which spirits of the dead are permitted to enter but none are allowed to leave. In the ancient world, dogs were often depicted as wild animals that defied domestication, roamed the streets in packs and scavenged on the edge of town. The mythical Cerberus incorporated not only the feared qualities of the ancient canine, but was a strange mixture of several creatures in one and a nightmarish sight to behold.
The Greek Hell Hound Cerberus
The name Cerberus comes from the Greek “Kerberos” meaning “spotted.” To the Greeks, Cerberus was a monstrous three-headed dog, or “hell hound” with a serpent’s tail, a mane of snakes, and a lion’s claws. His three heads were thought to represent the past, the present, and the future while other sources suggest they were symbolic of birth, youth, and old age.
The most potent ability of Cerberus was his look, which was so dreadful that anyone who looked upon him was immediately turned into stone. It was said that Cerberus had razor sharp teeth and a poisonous bite. The poison that drips onto the ground sprung up as a plant that is known as the wolf’s bane.