No Sympathies: Naiberius Picture

"Over the souls of those submerged beneath that mess, is an outlandish, vicious beast, his three throats barking, dog-like: Cerberus.
His eyes are blood-red; greasy, black, his beard; his belly bulges, and his hands are claws, his talons tear and flay and rend the shades."

~ Dante, The Divine Comedy

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One of the weirder things about Dante's hell is how few Judeo Christan demons are in it. Instead most of its demons are actually monsters from Greco Roman mythology - centaurs, furies, Medusa, the Minotaur, Geryon, and Cerberus. Those are from a separate mythology, dude! He only gets some more traditional demons in the last few cantos of the Inferno, and twelve of them were ones he just made up! (We'll get to them in a few deviations).

I'm not entirely sure why he did this. If I had to guess, though, I'd say his Italian heritage might have something to do with it. While Christianity tried its level best to stamp out all signs of any Pagan religion in Europe during the middle ages, the shadow of the former Roman Empire made it pretty much impossible to keep the Greco Roman mythology out of the public mind. What Christianity cannot destroy, it assimilates, and so we get a lot of works that cross the two.

So Dante may have put all those Greco Roman monsters into his Hell to legitimize the mythology that he sort of inherited from his Empirical ancestors I guess?

And to be fair, MANY Judeo Christian demons are based on (or even completely stolen from) figures in other religions that Christianity wanted to stamp out. So it's not like there isn't a precedent.

Anyway, Dante's Cerberus is really interesting. The earliest mythic version of Cerberus was basically a big dragon snake. It was later reinterpreted as a three-headed (or sometimes as many as FIFTY headed) dog with, like, snakes growing out of its butt and crap. Dante goes for the middle ground, portraying Cerberus as a draconic canine hybrid monstrosity that punishes the gluttonous by eating them. He's also got a wounded throat, presumably from an encounter with Hercules maybe? It's kind of jumbled.

There's also a key piece of demonology that includes a demons that's pretty indistinguishable from Cerberus named Naiberius. It's, like, this big freakin' three headed dog. He's got a raspy voice (wounded throat?) but is otherwise pretty amiable and polite, and is apparently one of the most valiant demons in Hell. Whatever that's worth.

So I totes ganked that name and slapped it on Dante's Cerberus, because I like to keep my mythologies kind of distinct and yatta yatta yatta.

So here's Naiberius! He's a messy eater who serves Beelzebub, the Prince of Gluttony. He's pretty even tempered as far as demons go, and will treat you nicely so long as he has some souls to nosh on.
Continue Reading: Minotaur