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Cerberus


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Monstrous hound that guards the entrance to the Underworld, often called ‘the dog of Hades’. Hesiod makes him a child of Echidna and Typhon, ‘brass‐voiced and fifty‐headed’; three heads are more normal in literary descriptions and in art, while Attic vase‐painters usually make do with two. A shaggy mane runs down his back, and he may sprout writhing snakes. Despite his impressive appearance, however, he failed to keep out Orpheus, who lulled him to sleep with music; while Heracles (with Athena's help) even managed to chain him up and drag him away to the upper world, where he terrified Eurystheus with the captive beast. The scene was already depicted in Archaic art on the so‐called ‘Throne of Amyclae’; a water-pot in the Louvre handles the theme with exuberance.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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