Scylla was a sea monster. Scylla and Charybdis are minor female goddesses representing natural processes. An illustration of Scylla is as follows: Scylla, Europa, and Triton, Malibu 81.AE.78. The Argo encountered Scylla and Charybdis, but was guided past by Thetis and the Nereids. Odysseus also encountered Scylla and she gobbled up six of his men. In the Odyssey she is described in the following passage:
“And therein dwelleth Scylla, yelping terribly. Her voice indeed is no greater than the voice of a new-born whelp, but a dreadful monster is she, nor would any look on her gladly, not if it were a god that met her. Verily she hath twelve feet all dangling down; and six necks exceeding
long, and on each a hideous head, and therein three rows of teeth set thick and close, full of black death. Up to her middle is she sunk far down in the hollow cave, but forth
she holds her heads from the dreadful gulf, and there she fishes, swooping round the rock, for dolphins or sea-dogs, or whatso greater beast she may anywhere take, whereof the
deep-voiced Amphitrite feeds countless flocks.”
Odysseus involved with Charybdis and Scylla
Scylla on Coins:
In the GREAT EOIAE of Hesiod ‘Fragment #13 —
Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, Arg. iv. 828:
In the “Great Eoiae” Scylla is the daughter of Phoebus and
But Scylla bears a strong resemblance to the offspring of Phorcys and Ceto as described in the Theogony, line 270, of Hesiod, “(Ceto) bore in a hollow cave another monster, intractable, not at all similar to immortal human beings or to the immortal gods: divine, strong-hearted Echidna, half a quick-eyed beautiful nymph, but half a monstrous snake, terrible and great, shimmering, eating raw flesh, under the hidden places of the holy earth. That is where she has a cave, deep down under a hollow boulder, far from the immortal gods and mortal beings; for that is where the gods assigned her to dwell in glorious mansions. She keeps guard among the Arima under the earth, baleful Echidna, an immortal nymph and ageless all her days.”
Echidna and Scylla have a number of similarities not the least of which is that they both live in caves. One has to wonder if this is a reference to the cave worship of the Minoan Culture. Both have a snake-like quality but in Echidna it is more explicit. Scylla is not described as nymph in Homer but in other references she is transformed from nymph to monster. The name ‘Echidna’ can be derived from Indo-European ‘angwhi-‘,’Snake’. ‘Scylla’ is related to the Greek word ‘σκολιός’, ‘bent’. This is from Indo-European ‘skel-3’, ‘Crooked’. Both can also be related to the worship of snakes which revolved around Athena in the Classical period but was assigned to a snake goddess in the Minoan Culture.
In Libation Bearers by Aeschylus line 612 Reference:
“And there is in legend another murderous virgin to be loathed, (Nisus was besieged in his town of Megara by Minos, king of Crete. Nisus’ daughter Scylla, being in love with Minos, cut from the head of her father the purple hair on which his life depended, so that he was slain by the Cretans.) who ruined a loved one at the bidding of his foes,  when, lured by Minos’ gift, the Cretan necklace forged of gold, she with her dog’s heart despoiled Nisus of his immortal lock as he drew breath in unsuspecting sleep.  And Hermes (the conductor to Hades of the souls of the dead) overtook him.”
From Apollodorus, Library and Epitome, “On the one side were the Wandering
Rocks, and on the other side two huge cliffs, and in one of them was Scylla,
a daughter of Crataeis and Trienus or Phorcus, with the face and breast of a
woman, but from the flanks she had six heads and twelve feet of dogs.
Notes on the above. “Homer mentions Crataeis as the mother of Scylla, but says nothing as to her father (Hom. Od. 12.124ff.). According to Stesichorus, the mother of Scylla was Lamia. See Scholiast on Hom. Od. 12.124; Eustathius on Hom. Od. xii.85, p. 1714. Apollonius Rhodius represents Scylla as a daughter of Phorcus by the night-wandering hag Hecate (Ap. Rhod., Argon.
iv.828ff.), and this parentage has the support of Acusilaus, except that he named her father Phorcys instead of Phorcus (Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.828; compare Eustathius on Hom. Od. xii.85, p. 1714). Hyginus calls her a daughter of Typhon and Echidna (Hyginus, Fab. 125, 151, and praefat. p. 31, ed. Bunte). A Scholiast on Plat. Rep. 9, 588c, who may have copied the present passage of Apollodorus, calls Scylla a daughter of Crataeis and Tyrrhenus or Phorcus, adding
that she had the face and breasts of a woman, but from the flanks six heads of dogs and twelve feet. Some said that the father of Scylla was Triton (Eustathius on Hom. Od. xii.85, p. 1714);
and perhaps the name Triton should be read instead of Trienus in the present passage of Apollodorus.
Ovid, the Roman Poet, has Circe change Scylla from a young lady to a monster
because Circe’s beloved loved Scylla.
Scylla is also the name of a rock on the Italian side of the Strait of Messina, opposite the whirlpool Charybdis. Neither of the names ‘Scylla’ or ‘Charybdis’ seem of Indo-European origin. They may be loan words from another culture such as the Minoans or the Phoenicians who were maritime culture.
- detail—red-figure kalyx krater depicting Scylla: (rest of vase depicts Zeus, Europa, Triton) Greek, from Paestum, in southern Italy; c. 340 BCE
- Scylla LouvreScylla Louvre
- Morgantina Silver Scylla Emblem
To ask a question about this topic note the topic (Scylla) and
Scylla and Her Impact on Greek Art and Culture
Questions and Answers
Question: How old was she
Answer: Since she is an immortal goddess, this is hard to determine. According to ancient Greek mythology the earth gave birth to the gods and thus must postdate the earth. Most deities seem to predate mortals.
Question: how many men did she rape for hot monkee sex
Answer: This question confuses death and sex. It is not clear that
Scylla raped anyone. But she did eat them alive. Do you suppose she started
with their sex organs, as crows do, because they were more tender?
In the Odyssey, Book XII Homer says “As for her, she is no mortal, but an
immortal plague, dread, grievous, and fierce, and not to be
fought with; and against her there is no defence; flight is
the bravest way. For if thou tarry to do on thine armour by
the cliff, I fear lest once again she sally forth and catch
at thee with so many heads, and seize as many men as
before. So drive past with all thy force, and call on
Cratais, mother of Scylla, which bore her for a bane to
mortals.” The purpose of Scylla, acording to Homer is death and destruction.
The purpose of sex is pleasure and reproduction. It would seem that there
was little reason for comparison. Yet, the comparison is often made. Sex
is often equated with death, and some believe sex is a terror that you must
flee. The fact is that sex gives rise to very powerful emotions which if
not controlled can be very destructive, and even deadly.
But sex is not the equal of life itself. What Scylla does is reduce a
man to an object of food, completely separated from his value as friend
or lover. It is a message of the value of life in the universe. It is
a message that relates to man’s place in this realm. Odysseus has the
following to say about Scylla’s destruction: “but
Scylla meanwhile caught from out my hollow ship six of my
company, the hardiest of their hands and the chief in
might. And looking into the swift ship to find my men, even
then I marked their feet and hands as they were lifted on
high, and they cried aloud in their agony, and called me by
my name for that last time of all. Even as when as fisher
on some headland lets down with a long rod his baits for a
snare to the little fishes below, casting into the deep the
horn of an ox of the homestead, and as he catches each
flings it writhing ashore, so writhing were they borne
upward to the cliff. And there she devoured them shrieking
in her gates, they stretching forth their hands to me in
the dread death-struggle. And the most pitiful thing was
this that mine eyes have seen of all my travail in
searching out the paths of the sea.” Odyssey, Book XII
Just because the mouth is used by people for sex, does not mean
eating and sex can be equated. When sex involves victimization of one
person by another the equation is quite a bit stronger, yet the passage
on Scylla is plainly involved with humans overcoming their victimization.
The ideal is to use wisdom to make one’s life more meaningful.
Question: Where does she live and how do others feel and what do they say
Answer: She is often located in the straits of Messina between Italy and
Sicily, but there is no certainty in this. Some say Circe changed her from
a young woman to a monster, but this seems unfair. This is one of the
stories in Ovid’s Metamorphosis.
Question: Does scylla live in an underwater cave or on a cave on the
Answer: She lives in a cave well above the waterline.
Question: how did scylla die?
Answer: It is not clear that she can die. She may be immortal.
Question: I have heard that Scylla is a monster based on images of the giant squid…is this possible?
Answer: Possible but not likely since the giant squid is a deep ocean
creature and sailors of the time had little to do with the deep ocean. More
likely it is based on a dinosaur. Fossil dinosaurs were found and they were
quite difficult to understand. The Chinese dragon results from such fossils.
Question: what are scyiia’s dynamics
Answer: If a seal swims by she grabs it with her teeth, and then she
eats it. She also eats fish and other mammals.
Question: were dose scylla live
Answer: In a cave by the sea. Most often she is located near Italy.
Question: Pictures of Scylla?
Question: what is her origin
Answer: Most likely she is a demonized goddess from another culture. She
might be from the Mycenean or Minoan Culture, but she seems more like a
goddess from India.
The following suggests a connection to Egypt: “According to Greek myth,
Hekate had a daughter named Scylla ‘she who rends’ or ‘puppy.’ Scylla ruled
the prophetic seabirds and was also associated with Egypt. Occasionally she
was titled Petraea ‘the rocky one.’ She allowed none into the underworld but
those her mother deemed worthy. Scylla usually performed these duties in the
form of a three headed dog with blazing eyes. In fact the dog was a common
alternate form of Hekate’s priestesses, including Hekuba, who served Hekate
under her title Lampadophoros. When dogs were sacrificed at all, they were
sacrificed only to Hekate at two of her temples, and nowhere else. The second
of her sacred, seven star constellations was Canis Major, which includes the
‘Dog Star’ Sirius.” reference
The association of Scylla with Cerberus may be helpful. Mesopotamian
Ninkharak was a dog-headed goddess of healing who was assimilated into Ishtar.
Scylla probably was a tale to explain a partially submerged rock that ships floundered on.
Question: what is the definition of greek mythology
Answer: Greek mythology is a study of myths of the ancient Greeks.
The ancient Greeks are the peoples who lived in Greece before the Roman era.
Their myths are the stories of the peoples who lived in Greece before the
Archaic and Classical era when these stories were actually written down. The
ancient Greek myths are actually stories that were recorded as part of the
oral tradition of Greece prior to the archaic era.
Question: was she positive or negative?
Answer: Today we talk of the balance of nature, and we realize that
creatures such as wolves and sharks play an important role, but the ancients
had little concept of this. Scylla was seen as mostly negative.
Answer: Amphitrite was the wife of Poseidon and queen of the Mediterranean
Sea. She was either a Nereid or an Oceanid. She was a common art subject
in ancient Greece and is pictured with a net over her hair or crab claws on
Question: how many people has she killed
Answer: no one has kept track. She has to eat something and if a person
floats by all she sees is food. Normally she eats seals and porpoises.
Sometimes she eats a fish.
Question: when is the last time anyone saw her
Answer: Odysseus was the last to see her.
Question: If Scylla were alive today what impact on the world would she and Charybdis have?
Answer: They are as alive today as they ever were. If you attempt a voyage
of discovery, you will find them still. If you do not attempt such a voyage
you will die unfulfilled.
Question: why was Scylla important
Answer: When you plan a voyage of discovery you must be aware of the
monsters that you might encounter. You should prepare yourself to deal with
these monsters or they will eat you up. In some cases you will have to
deal with unavoidable loses which you must endure. It is better to absorb
a small loss than to lose everything.
Question: how old was scylla
Answer: All the ancient Greek gods and goddesses were born before recorded
time so their age cannot be determined.
Question: where can i get examples of homeric similies
Answer: Usually Homeric similies are found in the Iliad or the Odyssey.
Sometimes they can be found in the works of Hesiod.
Question: pictures of Argos
Question: what was the greek god charybdis
Answer: Charybdis was a goddess who acted just like a tidal whirlpool. A
tidal whirlpool is caused by an undersea cavern below high tide and above
low tide. When the tide goes out the sea water in the cavern rushes out
sometimes forming a geyser. When the tide comes in the water must rush back
in and often forms a whirlpool over the cavern opening. Anything caught
in the whirlpool is sucked into the cavern. An example of such a whirlpool
is discussed at: Click here.