The 12th Labor of Hercules - where he captures Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades, with his bare hands


The creature


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The king hiding in a jar, when Hercules brings him the dog

In the twelfth labor, Hercules had to capture Cerberus from Hades, the God of the dead. Cerberus or Kerberos (which means "demon of the pit") was in Greek mythology an enormous three-headed dog, who sometimes was described having 50 or 100 heads, with a snake for a tail. He was called a hellhound, because his task was to guard the gate to Hades, and ensure the spirits of the dead, that they could enter, but none of them could exit. Among his siblings is Hydra, who Hercules had to fight in the second labor.




The story


Hercules found his way down to the Underground on a mountain at Peloponnese. Here he was welcomed by Hades, who told him that he could take Cerberus wherever he wanted on one condition: he had to go disarmoured against it. Hercules accepted the "offer" and went to Acherons gate where the terrifying beast was guarding. By twisting its neck around and almost suffocate it he managed to get the power over him, but couldn't prevent the snake-tail to bite him painfully in the leg. But Hercules didn't loose his hold on the creature and dragged it, with some problems, to Eurystheus; the one who gave him the labors. Cerberus was the only enemy of Hercules, who wasn’t killed or seriously hurt by him.