The Cerberus, also known as Kerberos (pl. Cerberi), is a three-headed dog from Greek and Roman mythology. It is the guardian of the Underworld's gates. Cerberus prevents those who have crossed the river of Styx to leave the abode of Hades. It is the offspring of the Echidna and Typhon. Its brother, Orthrus, is a two-headed dog. Each of Cerberus's heads are said to have appetite for live meat only and thus allow spirits to freely enter the land of the dead. In most works the three-heads each respectively see and represent the past, the present, and the future, while other sources suggest the heads represent birth, youth, and old age.


When Orpheus attempted to retrieve his wife Eurydice from the Underworld, he journeyed to the Hades' realm. Being still alive, he had no coin to pay Charon, ferryman of the Styx, so he charmed his way across with music. He did the same to pass Cerberus and even brought tears to the eyes of Hades and his wife Persephone, who relented and let him take his wife back to land of the living.

The Twelfth Labor of Heracles


Heracles was assigned the task, or labor , of capturing the hellhound Cerberus by King Eurystheus. Due to Eurystheus discounting two of the ten labors, Heracles was given an additional two labors in which one of them was the capturing of Cerberus. Upon entering the Underworld with the help of Eleusis, Athena, Hermes, and Hestia, Hercules made his way to Hades. He asked Hades for permission to take Cerberus to the surface to show to Eurystheus. Hades gave Heracles permission, but on the condition that Heracles uses no weapons to overpower the hound. Heracles overpowered Cerberus without weapons and slung the beast over his back through a cavern entrance to the Underworld. Once seeing the beast, Eurystheus jumped into a pithos out of fright and told Heracles to take it back in return for releasing him from his labors.

In Popular Culture

In Literature

  • Cerberus appears in the Rick Riordan series Percy Jackson. He is only shown a few times, when Percy travels to the Underworld.

Video Games

  • Cerberus is one of the many creatures Orpheus must face in the side-scrolling video game The Battle of Olympus.
  • In the book and movie adaption of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone), a three-headed dog named "Fluffy" guards the entrance to where the stone is located.
  • In the Resident Evil series of survival horror games by Capcom, the zombified dogs are called Cerberuses.
  • Cerberus appears in the 1997 Disney animated film, Hercules. It first appears as Hades is riding the river of Styx and is given a massive steak. Hercules later tames Cerberus and uses it to get to Hades's inner sanctum.
  • Cerberus appears in the 1998 spinoff of the original Disney adaption, Hercules: The Animated Series. It is depicted as an out of control puppy that Hades has to maintain.
  • Cerberus appears in Final Fantasy XI as a Notorious Monster.
  • Cerberus makes multiple appearances throughout the Kingdom Hearts series as a boss of the Olympus Coliseum.
    • In Kingdom Hearts, Cerberus is released by Hades as a back-up plan in a plot to destroy Hercules due to Cloud's failure. Cerberus attacks Cloud upon release and prepares to attack the others. However, Hercules holds off the three-headed hound. Sora returns back to the arena to help and allows Hercules to escape with an unconscious Cloud on his back. After its defeat, Sora and friends are dubbed "Junior Heroes". Cerberus can be later fought in the Hades Cup tournament.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Cerberus is sent by Hades to stop Sora, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Auron from escaping the Underworld. Donald and Goofy escape, leaving Sora and Auron to defeat Cerberus. Cerberus is later fought in the Cerberus Cup in the Underdome as the final opponent.
    • In Kingdom Hearts coded and its Nintendo DS remake Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, a data version of Cerberus appears as a boss in a data version of the Olympus Coliseum. He is revealed to be the source of the Bug Block corruption in that world.
  • Various types of Cerberus appear in the God of War series of video games.
    • In God of War II, the Mole Cerberus is the most powerful of all the Cerberus variations in the game. It is responsible for killing Jason and most of his Argonauts. The creature is ultimately killed by Kratos.


In Video games