Orthrus is a mythical creature from Greek mythology, often described as a two-headed dog. He is a sibling to Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the Underworld. Orthrus is typically associated with the giant Geryon, a fearsome creature with three bodies and a herdsman of cattle in the far west of the Mediterranean.

According to the most well-known version of the myth, Orthrus and Geryon were both slain by the hero Heracles (Hercules in Roman mythology) during one of his twelve labors. In this particular labor, Heracles had to fetch the cattle of Geryon, and during the quest, he encountered and defeated Orthrus.

The number of heads Orthrus possesses may vary in different accounts of the myth, with some sources depicting him as a two-headed dog and others as having a single head. The most common representation, however, is that of a two-headed creature.

llustration of Orthrus, the two-headed hound, standing guard with a fierce demeanor

Physical characteristics

Two Heads: Orthrus is commonly depicted as a two-headed dog. The heads may have distinct features, and in some versions, they could have different abilities or characteristics.

Dog-Like Appearance: Orthrus is fundamentally a canine creature, often resembling a large, fierce dog. The exact size and appearance may vary in different accounts, but it is generally portrayed as a formidable and monstrous canine.

Fur and Color: Descriptions of Orthrus’s fur and color may vary, but it is often portrayed as having a fearsome and dark appearance, reflecting its association with the underworld and its role as a guardian.


Orthrus’s origin is closely tied to Greek mythology, and specifically to the story of Geryon, a giant with three bodies who owned a herd of cattle. Orthrus is often described as a sibling or offspring of Typhon and Echidna, both of whom were monstrous beings in Greek mythology.

Typhon and Echidna were considered the parents of various legendary creatures, creating a lineage of monstrous beings. Orthrus, along with his more famous sibling Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the entrance to the Underworld, was born from this lineage. According to some accounts, the Chimera, another mythical creature with a composite of animal parts, was also among their offspring.

Close up of Orthrus, the two-headed hellhound

powers and abilities

Strength: Orthrus is described as a powerful and physically strong creature.

Ferocity: Like many mythical beasts, Orthrus is portrayed as a fierce and ferocious creature.

Vigilance: As a guardian of Geryon’s herd, Orthrus is expected to be vigilant and alert, keeping a watchful eye on the cattle and the surroundings.

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