Cerebus is a misanthropic anthropomorphic 3-foot-tall (0.91 m) bipedal gray aardvark. He refers to himself by name, in the third person, with occasional exceptions in the early issues. Sim has described Cerebus's voice as sounding like George C. Scott's. Although Cerebus considers himself male, and is treated as such, he is a hermaphrodite, possessing both sexes' genitalia and reproductive systems. Theoretically he is capable of impregnating himself; however, a childhood injury to his uterus makes this impossible.
Cerebus is an amoral character. He is often foul-mouthed and uncouth, has a vicious temper, and loves getting drunk. In the Guys story arc, Cerebus is described as having "a self-absorption that borders on the pathological." In Church and State, Cerebus, after becoming Pope, uses brutal methods to teach twisted morality lessons.However, he is brave, crafty, and can show genuine affection to those he considers equals or those he has feelings for. He is a skilled tactician and strategist, is very proficient at hand to hand combat, and has a knack for improvisation and manipulation. He received training in magic as a child, but is depicted as being able to recognize magic and deal with it rather than use it.
For most of the series' run, Cerebus possesses an innate "magnifier" ability. This ability, which he shows little (if any) conscious awareness of, is a tendency for events occurring around him to become unusually focused and ordered, with intensified actions and consequences and sometimes with paranormal effects, then fall out of place in his absence. This ability also affects the people around him to varying degrees, amplifying their personality traits and abilities, and also amplifies any magic that is present.
A running gag in the early storylines was that when Cerebus' fur got wet it gave off a horrible stench, which even he could barely tolerate
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.
His parents sent him to live with the magician Magus Doran in Imesh when he was 9.
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).
Skills and TraitsEdit
He has a magnifier effect on those that surround him, just like all aardvarks.
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.