SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS

Name:  Scylla and Charybdis

Features:  Six-headed beast and a deadly whirlpool

Source:  Greek Mythology & “The Odyssey” by poet Homer

Habitat:  The straight of Messina between Italy and the Island of Sicily







In Greek mythology, these two monsters resided on each side of the straight of Messina.  Any ships who tried to sail here would have do deal with and possibly perish while facing either one of these two dangerous and evil mythical monsters.

On one side of the straight was Skylla.  She is described as having six heads, all with extremely long necks that could easily stretch from her cave all the way up to the surface of the water.  Each head was filled with numerous rows of razor sharp teeth.  At her waste was a band of multiple snarling dog heads.

If ships sailed on her side of the straight – they were assured to lose six crew men – one for each of her hungry heads.

Skylla is said to be the daughter of Cetos and Phorcys.  Other sources claim her parents to be Triton and Lamia or Typhon and Echidna.

It is said that she was once a beautiful naiad that Poseidon grew extremely fond of.  The result of this infatuation caused a jealous Amphitrite to transform the attractive naiad into a hideous monster by poisoning the spring were she was known to bathe.

In another story, she was the daughter of the river god Crataeis.  While she was still a beautiful nymph, Glaucus fell deeply in love with her.  This spurred him to request that the sorceress Circe create a love potion for him.

Unfortunately, Circe happened to be very in love with Glaucus herself, so instead she formulated a potion to destroy the beauty of the nymph that Glaucus was enamored with.  She poured the potion into the sea were the gorgeous nymph bathed and turned her into a hideous monster with six heads.

It is also said that the Greek strong man Hercules is the one that finally killed this deadly six-headed monster.  Unfortunately, she was restored and brought back to life by her father Phorcys.

Let us not forget the damaging water demon that completed the deadly duo of Scylla and Charybdis.

On the other side of the straight was where Kharybdis resided.  She once was the beautiful daughter of Poseidon, god of the sea.  After stealing some of Hercules sheep, Zeus punished her by turning her into a sea monster.

The monster she became was a deadly giant whirlpool that would swallow the waters of the sea and thrust them back out three times daily.  Any ship caught in this devastating hungry whirlpool would perish.

Adventures of ships caught between these two mythical creatures Scylla and Charybdis, are the source of many stories, tales, artworks and images.








Return to Mythical Creatures A-Z
Return to Mythical Creatures and Beasts home page