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Myth Monday - Scylla (Skylla)

By April 23, 2012

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Scylla. Detail from a Boeotian red-figure bell-crater, 450-425 B.C.
Courtesy Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever heard someone say "between Scylla and Charybdis" instead of "between a rock and a hard spot"? Charybdis was a whirlpool opposite Scylla, a specific rock (or other hazard), eventually located on the Strait of Messina, near Sicily, that posed a hazard to sailors.

But once upon a time, Scylla (Skylla/Σκύλλη) was not stone. Once upon a time, she was at least a partly beautiful maiden. The details vary about whether her nether regions were always hideous -- or at least so abnormal as to be mortally terrifying -- or as beautiful as the rest of her. She may have been one of the brood of Echidna whose children included the Sphinx, the Nemean Lion, and the terrifically poisonous Hydra.

The story of her transformation is one of the set that deals with spurning the advances of an infatuated suitor. Another familiar one is the one where Daphne pleaded with her father for relief from the adamant Apollo. In answer to her cry for help, her father turned her into the laurel/bay tree. Scylla wasn't turned by a sympathetic parent.

Read more in Who Was Scylla?

Previous 2012 Myth Mondays:

  1. Hercules Hurls His Guest
  2. Scylla
  3. Olympics Origins II: Myrtilos
  4. Hercules the Giant-Killer
  5. The First Tyrant
  6. The King and the Harpies
  7. The Dawn Goddess Loves a Mortal
  8. Vediovis
  9. Even a Boar Wishes to Kiss Adonis
  10. Hero and Leander
  11. Who Were the Argonauts?
  12. The Chimera
  13. Narcissus and Echo
  14. How Perseus Fits In
  15. Hesiod and the Bestiary
  16. The First Olympics Origins I
  17. Dionysus and the Return of Hephaestus
  18. Zeus, the Recent Victor of the Titanomachy, Wins Once More in Hesiod's 'Theogony'
  19. Atlas, the Titan Who Didn't Shrug
  20. Troilus and ... Polyxena

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