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Cerberus, ( ); Greek form: Κέρβερος, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound (usually three-headed) which guards the gates of Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. Cerberus featured in many works of ancient Greek and Roman literature and in works of both ancient and modern art and architecture, although, the depiction and background surrounding Cerberus often differed across various works by different authors of the era. The most notable difference is the number of its heads: Most sources describe or depict three heads; others show it with two or even just one; a smaller number of sources show a variable number, sometimes as many as 50.
The name "Cereberus" is a Latinised version of the Greek Kerberos, which may be related to the Sanskrit word सर्वरा "sarvarā", used as an epithet of one of the dogs of Yama, from a Proto-Indo-European word *ḱerberos, meaning "spotted" (This etymology suffers from the fact that it includes a reconstructed *b, which is extremely rare in Proto-Indo-European. Yet according to Pokorny it is well distributed, with additional apparent cognates in Slavic, British and Lithuanian). The use of a dog is uncertain, although mythologists have speculated that the association was first made in the city of Trikarenos in Phliasia.
"Cereberus" is generally pronounced in English with a soft C as in cell, even though the ancient pronunciation, in both Greek and Latin was with a hard C as in cat.
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