Orthrus. Legends and Myths of the giant 2 head dog.

Orthrus is undoubtedly one of the most popular creatures of Greek mythology. Although he is not the most powerful being, his image as a two-headed dog is universal.

Orthrus two-headed dog

Who was Orthrus?

Orthrus was a creature in Greek mythology who was said to be the two-headed dog of Geryon, a three-bodied giant. According to legend, Orthrus was the brother of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld.

According to legend, Orthrus was the brother of the monster Chimera and the son of Typhon and Echidna. Orthrus was said to be a fierce and dangerous dog who guarded the flocks of Geryon on the island of Eriteia. In the famous story of the Twelve Labors of Hercules, this hero had to confront him and kill him in order to obtain the bulls of Geryon as part of his work for King Eurystheus.

The figure of this being is not as well known as other Greek mythological characters, but his image of a two-headed dog has been taken up in some works of fiction and in popular culture as we shall see.

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Appearance of Orthrus

As described in Greek mythology, Orthrus was a dog with two heads, a muscular body and dark fur. His eyes were said to be fierce and his breath was said to be poisonous. He was often depicted with a snake tail and sharp claws, which made him even more terrifying.

Orthrus two head dog
Orthrus depicted in a vase

One of the best known confrontations of this myth was his involvement in the story of the Twelve Labors of Hercules. In that episode, Hercules had to capture Geryon’s bulls, and to do so he had to pass through the island of Eriteia where Orthrus was the watchdog of the herds. Hercules had to confront him and kill him in order to complete his work.

Another confrontation in which Orthrus appears was in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. In that story, Jason and his companions arrived at the island of Eriteia to obtain the Golden Fleece, but were stopped by the two-headed dog. One of Jason’s companions, the hero Polyphemus, managed to kill Orthrus and make way for the others.

Orthrus in literature and movies

Orthrus has been depicted in popular culture over the years. His image as a fierce and dangerous two-headed dog makes him an interesting figure for writers and creators of fiction. If this being has not been used directly, the inspiration has been quite clear.

Orthrus harry potter
Orthrus as a fantasy icon

Appearance in the media

The image of this mythological being as a two-headed dog has been a popular image in popular culture. His imagery has been used in several works of fiction, including video games, books and movies.

  • In the novel “Percy Jackson and the Gods of Olympus: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan, this dog is a guardian of the home of the god Hades. Percy and his friends have to fight him to get into Hades’ home.
  • At Disney’s animated movie “Hercules,” this being is one of the many monsters Hercules has to face in his quest to become a hero. In the movie, he is shown as a giant, ferocious two-headed dog.
  • In the novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling, the guard dog of the Philosopher’s Stone is named Fluffy and has three heads. Although it is not explicitly mentioned that Fluffy is based on Orthrus, the image of the multi-headed dog is similar.
  • In the video game “God of War II“, Orthrus appears as one of the final bosses that Kratos has to defeat. In the game, we find him as a giant two-headed dog with poisonous abilities.

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