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While later Roman writers would imagine Scylla as a sea nymph to had been transformed into a terrible monster, the Greeks believed she had always been a terrifying creature. The modern Italian town of Scila is named after the monster that was said to live there.

Like ancient writers, our view of mythology is so largely influenced by Homer that her mention in the Odyssey ensured she remained part of the popular imagination. I have been in love with all things related to Mythology. The war lasted ten years and Odysseus, like the rest of the exhausted Greek troops, was eager to return to his homeland. Homer simply said that she was the daughter of Ceto, a mythic sea beast.

But sacrificing six lives was preferable to risking the entire ship by sailing near Charybdis. My work has also been published on Buzzfeed and most recently in Time magazine. Dogs were frequently associated with underworld monsters in Greek mythology, and the ring of dog heads around her waist gave Scylla a resemblance to Typhon, the legendary giant who challenged Zeus. The narrow passageway exists between the island of Sicily and southern Italy. The ship had almost passed by safely until his crew lost focus, distracted by nearby Charybdis.

The location of the neighboring monsters is a real place that would have presented very real dangers to ancient vessels. While Odysseus and his men faced a six-headed monster, real sailors would face jagged rocks that lurked just below the surface of the water.

Rather than risk the dangerous strait, he sets a much longer course around the southern edge of Sicily to avoid the monster entirely. Sailors would have to carefully navigate around it, coming uncomfortably close to the rocks on the other side. Skillaros was the Greek word for a hermit crab, which Scylla’s protruding legs were almost certainly based on.

But Glaucus was unmoved by the enchantress’s pleading and swore that he could never love another woman as long as Scylla was alive. Her position among the rocks was another link to the real world. Additionally, she had a dozen legs hanging down from her body. Circe’s cruelty had not won the heart of Glaucus, however. Scylla was one of the most terrifying dangers faced by the hero of Homer’s Odyssey, but her origins were based in the real world. While hermit crabs might startle beach-goers they are hardly a threat to a man, let alone an entire ship.

She loved Glaucus too much to hurt him, however, so she took her anger out on Scylla instead. Scylla wasn't always a monster though. A word for both a dog and a type of shark, the similar sound may have inspired writers and artists to show Scylla with dog heads and legs. Scylla had been killed by a great hero, but still posed a threat to those travelling at sea. She ate the unfortunate men alive while the rest of the ship’s men looked on in horror. Nach der Skylla ist der Ort Scilla an der Straße von Messina benannt, wo sie späteren Legenden nach gehaust haben soll. Please like and share this article if you found it useful. The sea monster Scylla lived in a cave beside a narrow strait opposite the whirlpool Charybdis. Scylla remains one of the most well-known and recognizable monsters in Greek mythology, particularly among those connected to the sea. Sailing through a narrow strait, the ship had to choose between a deadly whirlpool or a horrifying monster. Jason and the Argonauts passed by the monster, as well. The whirlpool was a relatively minor danger, but the rocks near Messina’s cliffs could prove quite deadly. In some version, Phorcus had fathered her on Lamia, the shark-monster who stole children. So where did Scylla’s snapping jaws come from? Sunk waist-deep in the cave’s recesses, she still darts out her head from that frightening hollow, and there, groping greedily round the rock, she fishes for dolphins and for sharks and whatever beast more huge than these she can seize upon … No seaman ever, in any vessel, has boasted of sailing that way unharmed, for with every single head of hers she snatches and carries off a man from the dark-prowed ship. Most versions of Scylla’s origin link her to the earlier sea creatures of Greek mythology.

Homer’s original description in the Odyssey, however, was more detailed. There were many different versions of how the monster came to be, all linking her back to different legends. Most people recognize Scylla and Charybdis for their role in the Odyssey. Later writers took Homer’s description as a basis for their version of Scylla, but expanded on her monstrous characteristics. Please like and share this article if you found it useful. One for each head. Scylla also appeared in the story of another famous ship in Greek mythology. Über Skylla gibt es verschiedene Sagen. Scylla most likely represented the dangerous hidden rocks that lay within the Strait of Messina, the narrow strip of water that separates Sicily and Southern Italy. Scylla’s half dozen heads were usually depicted as canine, inspired by both Homer’s description and the association of dogs with monsters of the underworld. The dangerous monsters appeared in several other myths, however.

The shape described by Homer was reminiscent of a hermit crab, a common sight along the coast. In reading Homer’s description and looking at painted images of Scylla from the period, historians believe her form may have been inspired by a hermit crab.

The way in which Scylla pounced out her cave was a reflection of how suddenly a ship could hit against a rock.

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