The Greek Myth That Inspired Fluffy In Harry Potter

One of the more intriguing and mysterious characters in the Harry Potter universe is Fluffy. According to Harry Potter Wiki, we meet him first in "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," and it happens quite by accident. Without giving away too much of the story, Harry Potter and his Gryffindor housemates were trying to avoid being caught out past curfew and stumble upon something they shouldn't have. In a locked room in Hogwarts, the group discovers a giant three-headed dog that appears to be guarding a trap door. The giant mongrel, as it turns out, was Hagrid's pet, whom he charged with protecting the powerful Philosopher's stone.

Like many of the characters and creatures of the world of Harry Potter, Fluffy's origin lies in cultural mythology. Greek mythology tells us of many multi-headed animals, including a three-headed dog known as Cerberus, per Greek Mythology. This literal hellhound is better known as Hades' favorite pet, and legend says the beast guards the entrance to the Underworld. Similar to the Harry Potter character, it was Cerberus' job to ensure that whatever entered the gates of hell, stayed there and never left. According to Greek legend, this monster was the child of Titans Typhon and Echidna, and its siblings also included some of the most recognizable creatures from mythology, the Chimera, the Hydra, and Othus, another multi-headed dog.

Hades' pet

In the stories we hear of the mighty Cerberus, it is obviously portrayed as a formidable foe. While his typical representation presents him with having three heads, some descriptions say he had as many as 100. Some also describe him with snakes protruding from his back, and his tail itself being a poisonous serpent all on its own. Cerberus' significance in mythology largely comes from his interaction with one of Greece's most legendary heroes, Hercules. As a part of one of his Twelve Labors, Hercules was to bring the hellhound up from the Underworld, per Greek Mythology. He achieved this by choking out the giant dog, and more impressively, he managed to rescue another Greek hero, Theseus, in the process.

Harry Potter is not the only film or book where Cerberus like characters appear. He makes one of his first appearances in one of the world's oldest texts, Virgil's "Aeneid." More modern book series like "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" also feature Cerberus. On the movie front, Disney's "Hercules" and the live action "Hercules: The Thracian Wars," starring The Rock, both also have appearances of Hades' favorite hound.