2 May 2015

The legend of Cerberus

In mythology, dogs regularly serve as pets or as guard dogs. Within Greek mythology, Cerberus is a three-headed guard dog who watches the entryways of Hades. He watches the passageway of the Greek underworld to keep the dead from getting away and the living from entering and is highlighted in numerous works of antiquated Greek and Roman writing.

Cerberus' depiction is most prominent in writing; various references to Cerberus have showed up in ancient Greek and Roman arts, and can be regularly found in archaeological ruins generally on statues and in buildings. The writers and poets of ancient Greece and Rome agreed mostly on the physical appearance; most sources depict Cerberus with three heads, however a few others demonstrate Cerberus with two or even only one.

Classical critics have distinguished one of the earliest works of Cerberus, a Laconian vase made around 560 BC in which Cerberus is indicated with three-heads and with lines of serpents covering his body and heads. In many works, the three heads represent the past, present and future, while different sources propose the heads speak to conception, youth, and maturity.

Here at Grays we have a great selection of antique pieces inspired by the form of the dog. Here are our favourites:

Rosenthal Putto with Borzoi by Max Fritz, 1937 available from Serhat Ahmet
1920s Bulldog Cigar Cutter available from Jack Podlewski
Meissen Pair of Pugs, c.1850 available from Serhat Ahmet
1980s Gold Terrier Broach available from Michael Marks
Victorian Meissen Pug group available from Martin Harris

1900s Black and White Terrier Dog available from Maraid McLean

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