Hades and Cerberus are two of the more famous figures in Greek mythology. The former was the ruler of the Underworld, and his dog, Cerberus, guarded its entrance. Most people know these two from popular culture: Hades in Disney’s Hercules, and Cerberus in Dante’s Inferno. But they’re actually much more than these two characters in today’s society. In fact, they’re both very relevant to our lives today. So we’ve decided to break down exactly who these mythological figures are — from where they came from to what made them so famous.
What are the origins of Hades and Cerberus?
Cerberus, the three-headed dog, is said to be the offspring of Echidna, a half-woman half-snake, and Typhon, a giant storm-cloud. Both were turned into dogs by Typhon’s equally big son Pandemonium. While the snakes were loyal to his father, Echidna traveled with later gods and eventually became the pancreas of souls — a position that many Greek philosophers (and later emigrants to Italy) held.
But not even these legendary dogs can stop the dead Pandemonium from getting too close to the living Echidna. Thus, each of these dogs has to stare the other in the eye until he’s turned into a stone. But don’t worry, let’s face it; that’s what happens when we take all the best parts of a dog and mix them with all the worst parts of humanity:
There are also other versions of Cerberus
A coat-hanger named Porter
His son Atlas
The conceited Cupid
This list could go on and on.
Generally speaking, both Echidna & Pandemonium were major stakeholders in our lives. They were clearly great leaders, but it’s easy to be human when you think you’re better than everyone else. As the son of the heavens, Echidna knows what goes on in the realm above. Pandemonium has stories of his own — stories that few of us know. We only hear his side of the story, but it is an enormous one.
Echidna and Pandemonium taught us that good things can come of even the darkest of plots. Even the Devil enters into marriage with an unsuspecting damsel who is magically transformed into a beautiful princess named Cupid who adores the handsome prince.
And those stories aren’t just for kids. Below are some of the dark, horrible stories that occurred in the world in the Middle Ages.
How did these mythological figures make it into modern culture?
The most well-known mythological figures were once the subject of ancient myths, but they’ve since integrated themselves into our stories, traditions, and culture. Take the Greeks for example. Perseus, the son of the Greek god Zeus, was the hero who killed Medusa and saved Andromeda from a sea monster. Caelum, the son of Perignon, brought fire from Mount Etna, which allowed the Fates to select the ones who would be granted wisdom or the power to return to their home. This is a similar philosophy that psychologists commonly refer to as archetypes and it is why we have them. It is explained further by Ian Hawthorne in his article “ Heroes, Half-Humans & Ashamed Multi-Paths.”
In modern culture, we can see these figures projected into popular culture just like any other fiction or film. There are plenty of famous movies and books that feature Greek mythology as the backbone. But why? Why tell a story about two villains forevermore if you can have them destroyed by billionaires in a Hollywood movie? Why add a few hundred years of battles into the history books that are already packed with fledgling technology and space travel? Why escalate it to the point that even monsters now shout, “I will give you Gorgon heads This is not fair!”
All of that is to say, people want to make mythology and ancient Celtic tales relevant in their daily lives. While modern culture still has a lot to learn from the classics, this isn’t to say that everything needs to be put into context. The allure of mythology is its capacity for timelessness (and we want to spend as long as possible immersing ourselves in it). The archetypes are closely associated with spiritual values and myths tap into timeless human ideals. As such, we need to borrow them from their literary, historical, and cultural context in order to utilize them for relevance.
What’s the difference between Hades and Cerberus?
Hades is the name of the Greek god of the underworld. He is the brother of Zeus and the husband of Persephone. His name means “the unseen one”, and he was the god of the dead. Cerberus is a three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld. He is the son of Hades and the giant dog Echidna.
Hades was originally a part of the god Poseidon’s (Zeus’) constellation, the Crab, but he separated himself from the rest of the constellation and became one of the six constellations that make up the rest of the Sickle. (There are actually 13 Signs in the constellation of Capricorn, but see if you can find them in your den.) Just because he was one of the eight, however, doesn’t mean he had a sordid lifestyle. According to mythology, H Hades himself was a fair and loving husband and father to many.
When he was displeased, he punished beings who ventured too close to him with misfortune and random accidents. The local farmers and fishermen who lived along the western coasts of Pelopśis, Greek Island, were particularly punished by Hades. In revenge, farmers staged tragedies and played the lyre, resulting in the birth of bad luck for entire households. Because of this, farmers largely dropped their farming activities, and fishing became the main industry of the region.
Cerberus is a composite creature comprised of a dog and a wolf. It’s often called the “guard dog” because many people associated it with the protection humans received from it when entering the underworld.
How do Hades and Cerberus apply to our lives today?
We don’t really want to put ourselves in the shoes of the Greeks. But we can learn from them. What are the biggest problems they had to solve? How did they solve them? What can we learn from them that we can apply to our lives today?
The heathen gods (Hades and Cerberus) lived in the underworld, where they loved to play pranks. They would lure people into traps, dress them up in beautiful women’s clothing, give them a magical potion, and send them down to the mortal realm.
It’s no secret that you want to make things exciting in life. Now, if you want to trick people with a beautiful woman dressed as a certain kind of bird — trap them in a cage, wait until they pass out, use some skullduggery and wait until you get a beautiful lady waiting for you in the mortal world — let this be a lesson for you.
The gods began their games by playing a game of chance. The main character, or eight-headed beast, would creep slowly down each throat, always one step behind the next victim. Then, the gods would start whacking every soul with a club until none of them were left.
One man, whose name was Ares, could not take being hit so much, so he ordered his companions to take him down. Immediately, a hilarious scene played out. The other gods wanted to take the eight-headed beast down for the only reason they could think of: If one man dies and no one is left, the other six wouldn’t be able to kill him, which meant they wouldn’t be able to bring him back to life and carry on living as well.
Ares, however, had a different idea. He assumed the shape of a large dog, went over headlong into the fray, and tried to club each of the other gods as hard as he could. The rest is history.
Conclusion: Hades was a very powerful figure in Greek mythology, as was his faithful dog, Cerberus. Because of their power, they’re still relevant today in popular culture, but also in our own lives. So if you want to become successful, you should look to them for inspiration!
We’ve covered a lot of material today and I hope you’ve found it interesting and helpful. We’ve talked about a lot of different topics today, from Greek mythology to copywriting to even about how you can become successful in the modern world. But today, we’ll talk about Hades and Cerberus in a bit of detail. Let’s begin with who they are and why they’re so important today.
Hades was originally described as a tall, nimble, and beautiful elymnic (a Greek borrowing of the Greek “elim”). He was a good and benevolent king whose purpose was to maintain order in the Underworld where mortals lived and died.
As his name suggests, he was a very tall and handsome figure, including a specially designed golden chiton (medusa’s head) made for him to wear which was said to have magical properties.
Hades eventually fell in love with Persephone, the lovely and powerful daughter of Hades and Persephone, and wanted to take her along on his travels in search of other beautiful mortals to love and have as wives. But Hades could not take his eyes off of her — she was the most beautiful mortal in all of Greek mythology and Hades simply could not look away.
He cursed her to a life of pain, suffering, and endless grief, and told her only one thing would be able to heal her broken heart: A mortal man could take her in his arms and love her.
That mortal man was pilloried for several years, but when he finally approached Hades, the chateau (the palace where Hades lived) was so crowded that he could not kiss and hold her for even a second. He died as he had lived — regretting his choice. And our heroine, Persephone, was allowed to stay with Hades and be his eternal companion.
Cerberus, on the other hand, was very different.
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