We’ve officially started!
Day Eleven of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “K” post is a recognizable character in Greek mythology. Kerberos is just the Greek variant of his name. We know him better as Cerberus.
Cerberus – what do we know of this hell-acious doggy?
He’s got three heads. He guards the gates of Hades/the Underworld. And that’s about it. But I need enough to fill a post, so I’m digging deeper (Cerberus won’t be helping with the hole…just because, I don’t trust him not to eat me).
Cerberus is the Latin variant of the Greek Kerberos, a supposed nod to the “Proto-Indo-European word, ḱerberos, meaning ‘spotted'”…though I don’t think they meant this kind of spotting:
Cerberus’s parents were pretty fierce themselves: his monster mummy, Echidna, the half-woman, half-snake wife of Typhon. Cerberus’s father, Typhon, was considered to be the most deadly and most powerful monster. He was either “snake-bodied” (source) or “a fire-breathing who had one hundred heads that never slept” (source).
Typhon challenged Zeus and the Olympian gods and eventually lost, earning himself a forever-prison under active Mt. Etna (totally explains it – Typhon rumbling around under there).
Cerberus sounds as fearsome as his parents, with all his heads, a serpent’s tail, a mane made of coiling snakes, and powerful claws like a lion. He was part-Chimaera really.
Cerberus doesn’t play much of a part in Greek mythology. His best known role was being Hercules’s twelfth and final Labor.
The Twelfth Labor:
So for Hercules’s final task, he’s sent to fetch (hehe) Cerberus from the Underworld. Naturally it’s not like Cerberus is going to strut out beside Hercules. This monster dog is NOT this hero’s best friend – heck, anyways best friend. Cerberus stands there to growl, grunt, slash and pounce at any sneaky souls trying to escape Hades. Just the sight of him should deter Underworld break-outs and break-ins.
Hercules couldn’t even take weapons to fight off Cerberus. Crazy, right?!
Hercules had to first be a card-carrying member of the Mysteries associated with Persephone, Queen of Hades. Then he set off to find a cave leading down to the Underworld.
Along the way he fought different monsters and ghosts. Finally, he reached the House of Hades – the King of the Underworld’s palatial home (I imagine it as a palace; nice and fancy amidst the gloom and doom).
Hercules had to get Hades’s permission to carry Cerberus up into the world of the living, up into the light.
Hades gave the go-ahead.
Hercules found Cerberus and he wrestled the demon-dog. Cerberus didn’t leave Hercules without scratches. Think forcing a cat into a carrier.
Not fun time for either party, and Hercules couldn’t even bring a carrier. It’s just hand-to-claw combat.
Cerberus was bested at last, and Hercules brought the guard of Hades up with him to the living. When his final task was cleared, Cerberus wasn’t slaughtered – like most Greek mythic monsters. The beastly gatekeeper was allowed to return to continue his job in Hades.
A Few Lucky Others:
Other than Hercules, Cerberus allows very few people to pass.
Persephone is one of them. She resides half the year in Hades with her husband-uncle, Hades and half the year with her mother, the goddess Demeter. Hence, the cycles of winter and summer, and Demeter’s grief in her daughter’s absence.
Orpheus was another who passed Cerberus. Remember him from Jason’s post as one of the Argonauts and their savior-musician from the evil Sirens. When Orpheus’s wife Eurydice died, he went to return her to the world of the living. He played his lyre/harp for Cerberus and lulled the vicious guard dog to sleep. He also played for Charon and even Hades, the music earning Orpheus a chance to bring Eurydice up to the land of the living with him.
Mission a success, Orpheus hurried out of the Underworld with Eurydice.
But, like Lot’s wife from the Bible, he was told not to look back until they cleared the Underworld’s cave. At the mouth of the cave, he looked back to ensure Eurydice was behind him. Instead of turning to a pillar of salt, Orpheus just loses Eurydice again. She can’t leave the Underworld now he’s looked back.
And, I know this is all about Greek myth, but Psyche was a Greek goddess even though this myth is Roman (from Lucius’s The Golden Ass): Psyche heads down into the Underworld as part of her task, and she ends up passing Cerberus with honey cake treats. Apparently they’re the Scooby Snax down here.
MORAL: Not all tasks are impossible. Asking for help can go a long way in making the impossible seem achievable.
My sources to help out with this post were:
Resourceful sites! Please do check them out if you have time!