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Three Headed Creatures

A list of three-headed creatures in mythology and fiction.

Demons

  • Asmodeus, a demon of lust, was said to have the head of a man, bull, and ram.
  • Bael: The demon Bael is said to have three heads: a human, toad and cat.
mythical-creatures-with-three-heads

Dogs

  • Cerberus: In ancient Greek myth Cerberus guarded the gates of Hades. Difference sources give different meanings to the three heads such as that they represent the three known continents, or three sins.

Dragons

  • Azi Dahaka is a three-headed dragon monster from Persian myth slain by the hero Oraetauoa.
  • Mercurius: Dragons are sometimes portrayed as three-headed. For example the 1600 German illustration shown right is Mercurius. In alchemy the Mercurius is literally mercury/quicksilver and symbolically a creative spirit often shown as a dragon. The heads here represent Mercury, the moon and the sun.
mythical-creatures-with-three-heads

Eagle

  • A three-headed eagle is sometimes use to symbolize the three branches of the government of the United States (or other three-way divisions of the nation).

Elephant

  • Airavata is a three-headed white elephant said to carry the Indian God Indra. Ganesh is also sometimes depicted with three heads.
mythical-creatures-with-three-heads

Giants

  • Geryon (Greek Mythology)
  • Sir Olifaunt (Canterbury Tales)
  • Un-named (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

Greek Mythology

  • Cacus, son of Hephaestus and Medusa, is sometimes described as three-headed.
  • Chimera is a monster from Greek myth that has three heads, a lion, a goat and a snake.
  • Geryon was a fearsome three-headed giant. One of the ten labors of Hercules was to steal his cattle.
mythical-creatures-with-three-heads

Gods

  • Gods, such as the ancient Greek deity Hecate, are sometimes depicted as having three heads, some of them animals heads (dog, lion,and horse).

Snakes

  • Naga: A Naga is a God or other powerful entity that takes the form of a snake. The Naga sometimes has multiple heads, including three-headed forms.
  • In the Iliad, King Agamemnon carried the image of the three headed-snake on his shield.

In Fiction:

  • Ghidorah, a dragon with three heads, is one of the monsters that fights Godzilla.
mythical-creatures-with-three-heads

References

  1. Holsti, O. R. (1979). The three-headed eagle: The United States and system change. International Studies Quarterly, 23(3), 339-359.
  2. Parpola, A. (1999). The formation of the Aryan branch of Indo-European. Archaeology and language, III: artefacts, languages and texts, 180-207.
  3. Savage, J. J. (1949). The Medieval Tradition of Cerberus. Traditio, 405-410.
  4. Schwartz-Salant, N. (1995). Jung on alchemy.

Comments

Aisling Ireland from Bolingbroke, GA on December 21, 2012:

I liked this article and voted up despite my personal freakishness regarding animals with multiple heads. :-)

theliz from Maryland on September 29, 2012:

I wish there was more here! Fascinating topic, perhaps a rewrite to include sources and stories about the creatures/deities?