CERBERUS, in Greek mythology, the dog who guarded the entrance to the lower world. He allowed all to enter, but seized those who attempted to escape. According to Hesiod (Theog. 311), he was a fifty-headed monster with a fearful bark, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. He was variously represented with one, two or (usually) three heads, often with the tail of a snake or with snakes growing from his head or twined round his body. One of the tasks imposed upon Heracles was to fetch Cerberus from below to the upper world, a favourite subject of ancient vase-paintings.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)