All posts under Mythological Dogs

The First to Pass

The first person to proceed while alive passed Cerberus

Was not a mortal out to complete a quest,

But the lovely Persephone, daughter of Demeter.

She was essentially the queen of the dead,

A victim of who returned out of forced trust.

 

Every year she was forced to return to this place

Because she had tasted the fruit when first there.

Now she was forced to come back for half of the year

To appease the wish of the king of the dead.

Every year she and Cerberus came face to face.

 

She is the only person whoever got to proceed

Without any intervention from this faithful dog.

She would return and he would step aside

As she walked through head held high.

Six months later, he did nothing her departure to impede.

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What Orpheus Sought

The first mortal to succeed at besting great Cerberus

Was gentle Orpheus, a man of beauty and of grace.

He did not fight, not with his looks, a sweet smile on his face,

The gentlest soul, perhaps one of the best among us

 

When his wife died on their wedding day, Orpheus left home

His mission was to go see Hades to ask for her back,

It did not matter that against him all the odds were stacked,

Nor did it matter how far the quest required that he roam.

 

When finally he reached the gates to her last resting place,

He saw giant Cerberus, guard who granted no access.

Kind Orpheus spoke not a word, for he had a wild guess

Of how of to pass through without having to live in disgrace.

 

Soon Orpheus began playing a sweet tune on his lyre.

Cerberus slept as Orpheus intended sleep to inspire.

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The Last of His Labors

Perhaps the most famous tale of Cerberus is this

The first of twelve labors assigned to a man,

A man who was now forced to atone,

A man whose name is a legend of its own.

 

Hercules was the first to face off against the dog,

The first to try to fight Cerberus with all of his might.

The man was known to have strength beyond bounds

But he had never faced such a monstrous hound.

 

As Hercules neared the dog with three heads

You have to wonder if he was smart enough to dread

A labor that was meant to help bring him peace

A horror to help Hercules’s guilt to cease.

 

The King Eurystheus had a use for the hound,

He wanted one day for Cerberus to be found

Guarding his place, keeping watch over all

If he didn’t succeed, Hercules’s other successes meant nothing at all.

 

The quest really got started when Hades gave the man leave

To go to the gate Cerberus to retrieve.

There was no way such a dog to deceive,

And now weapons were allowed, if you can believe.

 

Armed only with his might and a will to find rest

Hercules accepted and went down to tackle the dog.

They struggled and fought for such a long time

A cruel drawn out battle, a strength pantomime.

 

Ultimately Hercules won, knocking the dog out cold.

Cerberus woke in a new place, as if he’d been sold.

Of course he did not stay long, but soon returned himself home

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Before There Was Rome

Cerberus was part of the roaming for Rome

Blocking the way of a hero without a home.

After Troy fell Aeneas was cut loose

A precarious position like walking around with a noose.

Unsure of the future, knowing not what to do

Aeneas sought knowledge through an odd avenue.

To the Underworld he went to speak to his dad,

Bemoaning the luck and misfortunes he’d had.

Beside him went the sly Cumaean Sybil, his aid,

To help the man pass Cerberus was the reason she stayed.

This was all she was prepared to do, no light undertaking

So much at risk, his own life perhaps forsaking.

So did the two journey down below

Aeneas to find in this dark time some hope, if only a glow.

As Cumaean Sybil expected, waiting down at the gate,

Cerberus stood his watch he would never abate.

The dog had no intention of letting the living inside

And for their transgression it was time that they died.

It was Cumaean Sybil who knew how to tame him

Like Orpheus she understood where his weakness did stem.

Little cakes lined with a strong sleeping draught

And Cerberus was out like a light, so easy Aeneas could laugh.

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Within the Third Circle

The next time we find Cerberus prominent in a story

Is tied to a story that is really quite gory.

When he was in exile Dante found a way to return the favor

But in a very different political and literal flavor.

Those who he felt were horrid and dull

So found they had a new place their sins to now mull.

Those Dante believed to live in gluttonous longing

Found themselves now in Dante’s third circle belonging.

The main attraction for these sinful souls

Was Cerberus and he had similar goals

As he did in the time of the Greek,

No one was to pass, no escape shall a sinner seek.

The turbid water in which these sinners were immersed

Severed as the principal struggle of the third circle verse.

Overseeing it all, towering above every head

Was Cerberus and his presence spread dread.

His three heads guarded all shores, there was no escape

Unlike other stories, Cerberus was always awake.

With glaring red eyes and his massive size

There was no way anyone would make it away alive.

It was only with the help of his guide

That Dante got by without getting on Cerberus bad side.

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Depictions in Art

Not only has Cerberus made his way into our hearts,

But he has found new ways to make it into our arts

 

One of the oddest artists in history

Drew from The Inferno, and the dog looks like a weird kind of mystery.

 

William Blake took the dog Cerberus and turned painted some work

Scary in quite a different way, all three heads look a little berzerk.

 

They all display large gaping grins

Showing their teeth and their fuzzy chins.

 

Under one paw is a soul who sought to escape

Perhaps that is why all mouths are agape.

 

This strange take on Cerberus is Blake’s visual depiction

Of what he saw from Dante’s bleak description.

 

Though the words and the picture seem worlds apart,

That is because they are different types of art.

 

It also does show how much Cerberus can inspire

Anyone to imagine whatever they desire.

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The Kids Who Met Cerberus

Probably the greatest makeover Cerberus has seen in the last 100 years

Comes from a story about a boy and his uncommon fears.

This is a story widely considered for kids of today

Which when you think of Cerberus’s origins, it’s a bizarre thing to say.

The dog is still meant to inspire and panic in a room that is stuffy

But to make him less scary he is renamed Fluffy.

 

When Harry Potter and his friends first began exploring

At their new school for witches and wizards

They expected to learn with eye of newt and a cat’s gizzard.

Perhaps the biggest shock was when they encountered a differs incarnation

Of the nod dog who knows no bounds or single dimension.

Those who didn’t listen this decision were soon to deplore

The idea of not obeying the head master Dumbledoor.

 

The kids go out for a late night duel with Malfoy

(Well no one is perfect not even this boy)

It is a trick, which they realize too late

A sad little attempt by Malfoy his desire for revenge to sate.

Too late our heroes realize the mistake that they’ve made

Too late they find that in their dorms they should have stayed.

 

In panic they flee from the room where the duel was to occur

Because their presence out late made the caretaker stir.

Filch loved most of all to see kids get in trouble

It was his voice that burst Harry’s duel dreaming bubble.

The kids tore up and down the halls at full speed.

Never before had they felt such gear no indeed.

 

Not until they reached the room that Dumbledoor had said was off limits

Then they found a desire to Filch to submit

Inside the locked room towered the recently sleeping dog

Now all three heads had quit sawing sleep logs.

With a shriek and a scream the children knew that they were through

For this kind of danger they knew not what to do.

 

By dumb luck and a return to their senses

They saw what their only hope of putting up defenses.

With determination they fled right back out the door

Leaving the dog to go back to his peaceful snore.

Later they faced him finally knowing music worked best

When trying to get past, it was really a simple test.

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With a Little Attention and Distraction

The fantastic translations of Greek into the modern world

Is something that is executed with talent extreme.

In the books detailing the adventures of one Percy Jackson

Cerberus acts as a short-lived distraction.

 

Jackson is living out so many stories from the past

Including this one with a very odd twist

Far be it for Percy to be outdone by heroes long gone

When he reaches the Underworld it is a brain he enlists.

 

Percy knew not how to defeat this dread dog,

So with the wisdom of someone who wants to survive

He turns to his companion to deal with this problem,

Because each step they take they are a little less alive.

 

It is Annabeth who knows how to treat a tame dog,

For while he is massive Cerberus is well trained,

It was through her commands that this brave girl soon acted.

Between her stern tone and nice rubber ball, Cerberus abstained.

 

Not only did the dog not attack,

When she threw the ball he bounded off after it.

Much to his disappointment, the ball couldn’t last

Not in the mighty mouths of such high spirits.

 

So it was a new way that the three got to pass through

Into the Underworld unharmed and in shock.

It was a method of besting Cerberus that had never been tried.

That’s a less to all to think differently when you hit a road block.

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Devil and Dog Strike a Deal

Cerberus has found his way into every medium

Be it books, songs, or art he has made a unique impression

But as the world turns to escape and distraction

There is one medium that is seeing an increase in action.

 

Cerberus has found his way into a new lair

Barking and growling he emerged as a boss

Acting so cool facing a man known best for his flair.

Into video games this legend did cross.

 

A new type of Dante was now his to face

In a land where even a devil could cry

Cerberus learned to embrace

That there was always a master it identify.

 

Dante was just at the start of a career,

Hunting down demons to help better the world

Half demon himself Dante had so little to fear

And facing Cerberus Dante’s ego unfurled.

 

Mocking and laughing as the three-headed dog neared

Dante found that with the use of a sword and two guns

This enormous dog could easily be steered

Into a direction to help navigate a dark bastion.

 

For after defeat Cerberus decided to join

Turning himself into a weapon Dante could wield

The two headed out the day to purloin

And nothing on Earth could make them yield.

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Cerberbus on the Streets

It would seem that the strangest appearance of Cerberus today

Does not come from books, games, or shows where your passive,

No it comes only when you are proactive.

Each year you can find an ordinary dog is transformed

From the sweet creature that sits like a lump on your couch

Gets up and becomes anything but a slouch.

 

For Cerberus can be seen in any dog at all

It matters now how big or how small

Once you realize the truth you will be in its thrall.

 

The only thing that it takes on your part

Is the ability to make two dog heads and a way to attach them

Then the head that your dog always has can act as the stem.

 

When the night comes when everyone get dressed up

You’ll have a special costume designed for your pup.

All over town you lead Cerberus, helping your scary factor to develop.

 

On Halloween night if you are really quite lucky,

You’ll get to see more Cerberus walking and wagging,

Such little three-headed dogs will always keep the spirits from sagging.

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