Friday, October 3, 2014

Cerberus, the terrifying and the cute


Ahhhh yes, Cerberus. The terrifying three-headed hellhound that is usually depicted with a snake tail, a mane made of snakes (kinda like medusa), and the claws of a lion. This creature is absolutely horrifying - 0/10 would not recommend. There's a reason why this thing was chosen to prevent the dead from escaping back into the living realm and that's because honestly who would want to mess around with this thing. He serves as Hades's personal watchdog for a good reason. However, despite all of this, there is one comical thing about this beast, its name. You see, looking at the etymology of Cerebus, Cerebus is a latinized version of the Greek word Kerberos. This comes from the Proto-Indo-European word k̑érberos which quite literally means "spot or spotted". That's right, so the lord of the underworld named his terrifying, soul scaring, guardian of the underworld Spot. We joke that we'd name it fluffy, but Hades basically did the thing and named him Spot. Why? I have no clue, you'd think the Greek myth-makers would name him something scary like Stormaggedon Dark Lord of All, but nope, they named him Spot.

5 comments:

alex Monier said...

ps. sorry for the font change, I had to copy the fancy k̑érberos off the internet and it messed up my font color

Sri Korrapati said...

Did you know that one of Hindu God Yama's dogs is also named spot (from the same root)? Sarvarā is also from that Indo-European word for spot. This dog has four eyes and wide nostrils. Interesting that Yama is the Hindu God of the underworld. Sarvarā isn't the actual name of the dog. It's just an epithet.

Bonnie Cash said...

Cereberus, spot, cuddles, whatever you want to call the massive three headed dog.. it's still scary. Which is why the Harry Potter trio were worried about passing it to find the Sorcerer's Stone. Fluffy, as Hagrid called it, guarded the stone and could only be calmed by the sound of a harp. I think it's interesting to parallel how Cereberus guards the Underworld and Fluffy guards under Hogwarts (remember Devil's Snare) where the Sorcerer's Stone is held. I'm not sure what calms Cereberus, but perhaps those wishing to leave the Underworld should try a harp!

Isabel Celata said...

Bonnie, that is exactly what I was thinking when we were talking about Cereberus!

Also Alex, it's getting to a point where I can tell that it's your blog post just by reading the title.

Iris Mire said...

I find it very interesting that Cerberus is often considered the archetypal badass hellhound when, in fact, he's just a little fluff ball named Spot...