Another delightfully unique creature from ancient Greece lives (or does it?) and serves the Lord of Death. With three heads and a nasty territorial streak, Cerberus is one ugly guard dog.
Descriptions vary – though he’s always three headed. (Side note – I have an explanation for the three heads in my Hades story ) Aside from his three heads, he’s had serpent tails, a mane of vipers, jaws that drip with venomous spittle, and claws capable of ripping the skin from humans with ease. His only job is to keep the Underworlds inhabitant inside the Underworld. He lets shades (ghosts) pass with ease, but doesn’t take kindly to human visitors. If you want to get Cerberus really fired up – try to leave. It very rarely happened.
Hades was fond of his dog. He must have been. Hercules last task was to bring Cerberus from the Underworld to Mycenae. When the hero asked Hades for permission, Hades said yes – with one condition: Hercules could not harm or injure Cerberus. Hercules agreed and carried the dog out or the Underworld. Cerberus was returned, safe and sound, to Hades a short time later.
All ugliness aside, he wasn’t all bad. He had a weakness – cake. Even the fearsome guardian of the Underworld would look the other way for some of this sweet goodness. Both Psyche and Aeneas gained entrance to Hades’ realm with this simple offering. A three-headed dog after my own heart. To incur Hades’ wrath, it must have been exceptional cake. For Cerberus’ sake, I hope so !