Dog Day Inspiration:
The Dogs Of Greek Mythology
Contrary to popular belief, the term "dog days of summer" doesn't come from the fact that the hottest days of the year make us pant like bulldogs on black asphalt. The dog days can be traced back to Ancient Greece, rooted in astronomy and mythology. As it turns out, if we want to really get to the bottom of the matter, we have to look to the stars and wade through the tales of some gods and goddesses. Settle in on a massage chair cushion and learn more about dogs like the three-headed Cerberus in this dog-day summary of ancient canines from Greek mythology.
The dog days are directly associated with the star Sirius. In ancient Egypt, the rising of the star coincided with the annual flooding of the Nile, while the ancient Greeks associated its appearance with the hottest time of the year. Sirius became known as the Dog Star, a name that can be attributed in part to Homer's Iliad, in which the poet mentions the relationship between Sirius and his owner, Orion, a famous hunter in the Greek mythos. Such a loyal companion was Sirius that when Orion died and was given his place in the heavens, Sirius was awarded a place by his side. Over the centuries, Sirius has appeared later and later in the year, meaning his bright arrival in the night sky doesn't always line up with the hottest days of the summer anymore.
One of the most infamous figures from Greek mythology, the three-headed dog Cerberus is the monstrous hound that guards the gates of the underworld. Depicted in various forms, the giant beast is well known for being captured by Heracles (Hercules) in the last of his 12 labors. Cerberus is mentioned by Homer, Virgil, Horace, and many other famous writers in the ancient world. It often is described as being interbred with other fearsome creatures, specifically poisonous snakes. Interestingly, the brother of Cerberus, Orthrus, is also slain by Heracles in one of his 12 labors.
Dogs were often depicted as important companions to some of Ancient Greece's most famous characters. Sirius was placed up in the heavens next to his master because of his loyalty, but the dog known most for loyalty to his master is Odysseus's dog Argos. Depicted in Homer's Odyssey, Argos is a faithful hound known for his hunting abilities. He waits 20 years for his master to return home. Odysseus returns in disguise, attempting to infiltrate his own home and surprise the many "thieves" attempting to take control of his land and marry his wife. Even after decades, Odysseus is recognized by Argos but cannot greet his faithful dog for fear of revealing his identity. Argos, content with seeing that his master is alive, dies, while Odysseus can only shed a tear for his old friend.
Dogs have been valued as hunters and companions by almost every human society dating back thousands of years. Whether you're in need of a gift for your faithful friend for National Dog Day or want to learn more about past events with an American history DVD, The Lakeside Collection has you covered.