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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
Star Names
Their Lore and Meaning

Richard Hinckley Allen

as reprinted
in the Dover edition, 1963

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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To Cerberus too a place is given —

His home of old was far from heaven.

Quoted in Smyth's Bedford Catalogue.


is the Italian Cerbero, Secchi associating it with Ramo, the Branch, and the French combining both in the title Rameau et Cerbère.º

This sub-constellation, a former adjunct of Hercules, but now entirely disregarded by astronomers, is supposed to have originated with Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum, although Flammarion asserts that it was on the sphere of Eudoxos with the Branch. The 4th- to 5th‑magnitude stars that Hevelius assigned to it are Flamsteed's 93, 95, 96, and 109, lying half-way between the head of Hercules and the head of the Swan.

 p160  The royal poet James I designated the infernal Cerberus as "the thrie headed porter of hell," and the heavenly one has been so figured, although with serpents' darting tongues; but the abode and task of the creature would seem to render very inappropriate his transfer to the sky, so that it probably was only made for the purpose of mythological completeness, as the death of this watch-dog of Hades fitly rounded out the circle of Hercules' twelve labours.

Others have said that the figure typified the serpent destroyed by the Hero while it was infesting the country around Taenarum, the Μέτωπον of Greece, the modern Cape Matapan.

Some of the stars of Cerberus were known in China as Too Sze, the Butcher's Shop; and others as Meen Too, a Cloth Measure.

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Page updated: 29 Sep 07