Cerberus, The Dog of Hades, The History of an Idea

The History of an Idea


Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology
Johns Hopkins University

The Open Court Publishing Company


Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd 1905

The picture is reproduced from Baumeister's Denkmäler des klassichen Alterthums, volume I., figure 730 (text on p. 663). It is on a vase and describes one of the twelve heroic deeds of Herakles. The latter, holding aloft his club, drags two-headed Cerberus out of Hades by a chain drawn through the jaw of one of his heads. He is just about to pass Cerberus through a portal indicated by an Ionic pillar. To the right Persephone, stepping out of her palace, seems to forbid the rape. Herakles in his turn seems to threaten the goddess, while Hermes, to the left, holds a protecting or restraining arm over him. Athene, with averted face, ready to depart with her protégé, stands in front of four horses hitched to her chariot. Upon her shield the eagle augurs the success of the entire undertaking.


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