A three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the Underworld, preventing the living from entering and the dead from leaving. The Twelfth and most dangerous Labour of Herakles was to bring Cerberus to Eurystheus. Hades, King of the Underworld, gave permission for Herakles to take Cerberus, on condition that he used no weapons, but only force, to drag him away. Herakles accomplished this Labour using only his immense strength. The dog is often given snaky extremities, and in later art may have just one head.
Above left: Detail from a Caeretan black-figure clay vase from Cervetri (Caere), about 530 BC. Paris, Musée du Louvre E701. © Photo: Max Hirmer Licence Plate 11 UK 1007 127
Above right: Detail from Athenian red-fgure amphora, c. 520-510 BC. Paris. Musée du Louvre F204 © Musée du Louvre