Sunday, November 10, 2013
Ask any Italian about Scylla and they’ll tell you she’s the terrifying sea monster that inhabits the rock of Scylla in the narrow strait between Italy and Sicily. Across the Channel from Scylla is Charybdi, a demon of the tides who can swallow entire ships in her whirlpool. Here is a passage about Scylla and Charybdis from Homer’s Odyssey , one of my favorite books..
In Homer's Odyssey XII, Odysseus is given advice by Circe to sail closer to Scylla, for Charybdis could drown his whole ship: “Hug Scylla’s crag—sail on past her—top speed! Better by far to lose six men and keep your ship than lose your entire crew.” Odysseus then successfully sails his ship past Scylla and Charybdis, but Scylla manages to catch six of his men, devouring them alive.
gasping as Scylla swung them up her cliff and there
at her cavern’s mouth she bolted them down raw—
screaming out, flinging their arms toward me,
lost in that mortal struggle.”
When I visited Sicily with my family we actually saw the rock of Scylla. I think its interesting how Greek mythology is part of the local culture there, and that a story that’s over 1000 years old still survives today.