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Scylla is one of the two sea monsters in Greek mythology (the other being Charybdis) which lives on one side of a narrow channel of water. The two sides of the strait are within an arrow's range of each other, so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis will pass too close to Scylla and vice versa. The phrase between Scylla and Charybdis has come to mean being in a state where one is between two dangers and moving away from one will cause you to be in danger from the other.
Traditionally the aforementioned strait has been associated with the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily but more recently this theory has been challenged and the alternative location of Cape Skilla in north west Greece suggested.
Scylla has the face and torso of a woman, but from her flanks grow six long necks equipped with dog heads, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. Her body consisted of twelve canine legs and a fish's tail. She was one of the children of Phorcys and either Hecate, Crataeis, Lamia or Ceto (where Scylla would also be known as one of the Phorcydes).
In Greek mythology, Ceto, or Keto (Greek: "sea monster") was a hideous aquatic monster, a daughter of Gaia and Pontus. The asteroid (65489) Ceto is named after her, and its satellite (65489) Ceto I Phorcys after her husband. She was the personification of the dangers of the sea, unknown terrors and bizarre creatures. Eventually, the word "ceto" became simple shorthand for any sea monster. It is still used in this way - cetacean is a derivation. Her husband was Phorcys and they had many children, collectively known as the Phorcydes or Phorcydides. In Greek art Ceto was drawn as a serpentine fish. Ceto also gave name to the constellation Cetus.
In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus is given advice by Circe to sail closer to Scylla, for Charybdis could drown his whole ship. Odysseus then successfully navigates his ship past Scylla and Charybdis, but Scylla manages to catch six of his men, devouring them alive.As retold by Thomas Bulfinch, Scylla was originally a beautiful nymph.
She scorned her many suitors and chose to live among the Nereids instead, until one day Glaucus saw and fell in love with her. Glaucus was a mortal fisherman who had previously been transformed by chewing a plant, gaining the form of a fish from his waist down. When Glaucus declared his love to Scylla she fled, taking him for a monster.
Glaucus sought the help of Circe, hoping that this witch could make Scylla to love him with her herbs, but Circe fell in love with Glaucus herself and asked him to forget Scylla. Glaucus rejected her request, declaring that his love for Scylla was eternal.Circe was enraged by Glaucus' refusal, and turned her anger on the girl whom he loved.
She went and poisoned the water which Scylla used to bathe with her magical herbs. When Scylla waded into the water, the submerged half of her body was transformed into a combination of fish joined with six ferocious dogs' heads sprouting from around her waist.
The dogs attacked and devoured anyone who came near, beyond her ability to control, and Scylla fled to the shore of the strait to live there alone.It is said that by the time Aeneas' fleet came through the strait after the fall of Troy, Scylla had been changed into a dangerous rock outcropping which still stands there to this day. Scylla and Charybdis are believed to have been the entities from which the term, "Between a rock and a hard place" (ie: a difficult place) originated.
When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey
Sep/27/2007, 6:50 pm
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