If you are looking for other uses of the word Cerebus, see the article Cerebus (disambiguation)
Cerebus is the main character of the series, and his life and death is detailed in the three hundred issues.
Cerebus was born in either the Estarcion year 1384 or 1385 in Sand Hills Creek. His mother's name is unknown, but his father's name is Joseph. When he lived with his parents he stole a kitchen knife from his mother. A young boy name Trevor took the knife from Cerebus and stabbed him with it. (see Kitchen knife incident).
Cerebus studies with Magus Doran for three years (HS p.51). During this time, Cerebus first runs the gauntlet of energy globes (C p.197). Cerebus got an elf mad at him during this period (HS p.130). Alexx's Timeline
Cerebus plays the role of mercenary several times, and travels around Estarcion. After falling in with Lord Julius' government in Palnu Cerebus starts working his way around the Palnu bureaucracy. Losing all the money he made, he meets up with Astoria who helps him get the money he needs and helps him win the election for Prime Minister of Iest.
After losing all Iest's money to Lord Julius and only saving the city from the conquering hordes by being friends with them from his mercenary days, Cerebus "retires" to the Countess Michelle's house.
Getting some money from Michelle, Cerebus leaves only to wake up married to Red Sophia and according to Weisshaupt he is now once again Prime Minister of Iest. It doesn't last long, as he soon finds himself appointed to the Pope of the Eastern Church.
Being recognized as Most Holy, Cerebus makes it his mission to collect all the gold in Iest. Different factions vie for control of Cerebus and the gold, but he outwits them all by jumping out a window. He races towards the top of the tower, to participate in his first Ascension.
After returning from The Moon, Cerebus walks around in a stupor only to stumble upon Jaka and her husband Rick. He spends some time as their house guest, going by the pseudonym "Fred". He leaves one day to get paint, and when he returns, everyone is gone and the tavern destroyed.
Thinking Jaka is dead, Cerebus camps out at a bar for a few. When he hears a Cirinist soldier talking about Jaka, he snaps out of it and starts killing Cirinists. People start hailing the return of Most Holy. Along his return to power, Cerebus meets with the real Cirin.
He finds himself outside the papal building with Astoria and Suenteus Po. They go inside to have a talk with Cirin. Po and Astoria have their say and leave, and Cirin and Cerebus fight for control. In the fight Cerebus loses an ear, and the throne breaks off from the room and Cerebus second ascension beings.
Upon returning from his second ascension, Cerebus spends quite a few years in a bar by the Wall of T'si. He meets up with his guy friends there: from Bear to Mick to Marty. Eventually they all end with women, and Cerebus is left bar tending.
One day Dave shows up and has a talk with Cerebus and leaves him a "gift". Opening the gift, Cerebus looks up to see Jaka walk in the door. The two leave together to go to Sand Hills Creak. Along the way they meet up with F. Stop Kennedy and the Ernestways: Ham and Mary. When the couple finally reaches Sand Hills Creek, Cerebus parents are already dead. Cerebus is ostracized by the townfolk, and he breaks up with Jaka.
Cerebus heads even farther north to try and kill himself, but ends up tending sheep and eventually becomes a professional Five Bar Gate player. After that career ends, he heads south into Cirinist controlled land to attempt to die by their hands. Opening "Fred's Tavern" he is spotted by the Three Wise Fellows who capture him.
They eventually release him when he says the words they've been waiting to hear. Cerebus leads his new followers on a quest to kill all the Cirinists. After they take over, they cleanse the land of unworthy women and men.
Cerebus spends several years as the ruler of the land, and is brought the Torah by a fellow called Konigsberg. Cerebus reads it and dictates his interpretation of it. When he finishes with Genesis, it is revealed that he has married a woman who looks a lot like Jaka. She eventually calls herself New Joanne and her and Cerebus have a child: Shep Shep.
When Cerebus hears of Shep Shep's plans, he grabs his sword and leaps out of his bed only to fall and break his neck. Upon which he makes his third and final ascension. He sees all his friends in the light, and Bear, Ham and Jaka are waving him towards them. After realizing that Rick was not there among them, Cerebus yells for God to help him as he is taken into the light.
Skills and Traits
He appears to have no soul (2, p.19; 7, p.20), but according to Dave in Collected Letters 2004, Cerebus' soul is in a different location then a normal humans soul.
He has a great fondness for apricot brandy. He is first seen drinking it in issue 4.
Though small, He is deceptively strong. He is capable of breaking sturdy chains (4, p.18). He has developed quite a lot of muscle in his over sized snout and tail, and is capable of using them as fighting limbs. (2, p.7; 6, p.7; 8, p.3; 14, p.19, etc.). He has very good night vision (30, p.2).
His fur smells truly awful when wet.
He seems to disdain the use of armor (except for an occasional helmet) probably relying on his speed, skill, and small size to protect him (9, p.4). He is one of the very few right-handed swordsmen in Estarcion, which may also help to explain his success (pointed out in 37, Letters).
His theology is well indicated in issue 5 with his thoughts "Tarim, Ashtoth, these were gods... They brought war, pain, they killed without reason or apology" (p.19). Cerebus is himself bloodthirsty towards his enemies, and vindictive when he can get away with it.
He is an expert con man, and skilled at quickly making up mostly-plausible "facts" to support his schemes. This, combined with his great personal charisma, makes him an impressive political figure.
He is often plagued by curiosity, and will frequently enter situations that he *knows* will get him into trouble because of it.
On the letters page of issue 26, Sim discusses Cerebus' "complete lack of expertise" in warfare, and his gradual realization of this fact. "He is learning to not trust his instincts when it comes to picking an army to fight with. His instincts in that area are not particularly good."
Also from that essay: "No matter how anyone tries to describe Cerebus physically to someone else, they never picture him looking like he does. Would you?"
And more: "Above all, I would ask all of the readers of Cerebus to remember that Cerebus himself is trying to learn to adapt to a world not only _he_ never made -- but one that very few individuals have managed to adapt to gracefully. His simple pursuit of money, physical comfort and frivolous pastimes is becoming something of an albatross in the thriving new capitalism -- it becomes too easy for him to achieve his goals because his sites [sic] are set so low. The reaction at the moment is restlessness and a basic rejection of everything new in his new society. Whether Cerebus molds the environment to suit his needs or whether the society manages to change Cerebus (he hasn't slept in a tree since issue #5) is what I'll be exploring for the next two hundred and seventy-four issues."
He is the number 6 crossbow man in Estarcion (27, p.9).
His greed is one of his strongest traits. "All Cerebus wants is more money than anyone else has." (32, p.9).
His mother appears to him in a dream, p. 516 Church & State.
- "Cerebus has always said that you're only as good as the people carrying out your orders." Issue 43, p. 7
- "Most wealthy people are wealthy people first and whatever else they are second." Issue 53, p. 6
- "It would put pressure on governments to be more responsible about their debts and loans . . .Cerebus hasn't met a whore, yet, who could abide giving anyone credit." issue 54, p. 13
- "One less mouth to feed is one less mouth to feed." Issue 68
- "Cerebus doesn't drink to feel good. . .Cerebus drinks because he likes drinking." Issue 91, p. 9.
Dave Speaks About Cerebus
Dave: "He was born in 1385, you know."
Q1: Cerebus decides to go by the name "Fred" because he no longer feels entitled to use his father's last name which, as it turns out, is Cerebus. So, is our protagonist's full name actually Fred Cerebus, son of Joseph Cerebus, or is this a pseudonym? If it is a pseudonym, did you ever settle on Cerebus' real first name? (i266/LD p15)
DAVE: No one ever asked me about this before.
It doesn’t really specify one way or the other in the actual text but my own impression was always that Cerebus was an unwanted child. Was it here that I mentioned that my mental image of his father was of the gorilla in the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the stork gets drunk and accidentally delivers Bugs to the expectant gorilla family? The gorilla father takes one look at the “newborn”, disappears off screen and comes back with a club ready to put it out of its misery and is only prevented from doing so by the mother gorilla. That was the kind of childhood I pictured for Cerebus. The only difference being that Cerebus’ mother’s maternal instincts were sufficient to keep his father from killing Cerebus but she was about as thrilled by him as his father was. As a result they didn’t give Cerebus a first name, they just called him Cerebus as a kind of reminder that he was both their responsibility and their cross to bear. I assume that their choice to provide for him and keep him alive was entirely religion-based and the decision to not give him a first name would stem from their resentment of the fact that God had stuck them with this midget freak. Not giving him a first name would be as rebellious as they would allow themselves to be.
Cerebus picked the name “Fred” because of Fred, Ethel and the Little Fellow with the Hair. Since his physical sexuality had always been pretty ambiguous he would take any opportunity to identify with the masculine option—in this case picking Sump Thing over Woman Thing.
I don't know if I've mentioned this elsewhere but the over-sized, crew-cut Cerebus of Latter Days was based on Ariel Sharon. I had been mulling over for years what the battle-scarred military veteran and largely inexplicable survivor and even more largely inexplicable over-achiever that Cerebus was going to be would look like and then there he was, Ariel Sharon in a news photo from the late 1990s. Sheer appetite run amok to virtual cartoon-like obesity but still not a guy you would even dream of taking a poke at if you saw him in a bar. Hey! Just like Cerebus! The sort of fellow who could pretty much single-handedly start an Intifada just by strolling up to the Temple Mount to have himself a little look-see. Hey! Just like Cerebus! I was and still am a big admirer of Sharon in spite of all his self-evident flaws (his personal and self-admitted culpability in the prison camp massacre in Lebanon – only Sharon could cause a prison camp massacre by just sitting still and doing nothing) (Hey! Just like Cerebus!) as I tend to be a big admirer of all the Jewish Warriors of the first "THIS Year in Jerusalem" generation who fought their way out of the corner ropes with every rabbit punch, eye gouge, right cross and left hook they could cobble together out of cast-off French military equipment, God-fearing bravado and genuine heroism. The history of the Jewish state from 1948 to 1967, to me, is living proof of what the Jews can accomplish when they align themselves with God and how irretrievably stupid it is for non-Jews to try to get in the way of that.
p. 99: "My intention at thetime was that Cerebus did have a soul, but it isn't in the same place that is in a human being: thus the succubus' confusion on the point. Since I have no idea where the soul is hose in a human being, this was a s close as I could get to imparting the particulars of that nit-picky of aardvark trivia."
16. Why did you decide to make Cerebus a Hermaphrodite? Follow-up: why, having chosen to do so, did you use the fact that he/she/it was a hermaphrodite so little?
DAVE: I'm not sure that I did decide to make Cerebus an hermaphrodite. It was only once I cracked the he/she/it "they" of Genesis that I figured that a lot of the early Cerebus was being written from God's side of the fence to suck in YHWH by making he/she/it think that this Dave Sim character was one of hers and that I was going to reveal a number of secrets he/she/it would find useful. I think I was being given knowledge that would, effectively, bait the trap and one of them was doing a he/she/it character which was a misspelled variation on Cerberus, the three- headed (that is, he/she/it) dog that guards Hades (i.e. the middle of the earth). I think a lot of our world functions in that way. We are unconscious vehicles for either and/or both teams. I didn't use the fact very much because it wasn't really of interest to me, except as a literary device, to have a character on the borderline between male and female in a huge story composed of a male cycle and a female cycle. But, I think that fact wa probably what interested YHWH the most—he/she/it kept waiting for me to tell him/her/it something interesting about him/her/itself.