Scylla

In Greek mythology, Scylla, or Skylla was a name shared by two beings:

Scylla was the Princess of Megara, daughter of King Nisus who was invincible as long as a lock of red hair still existed, hidden in his white hair. King Minos of Crete attacked Megara but Nisus knew he could not be beat because he still had his lock of red hair. His daughter, Scylla, fell in love with Minos and proved it by cutting the red hair off her father's head. Nisus died and Megara fell to Crete. Minos killed Scylla for disobeying her father. She was changed into a seabird, relentlessly pursued by her father, who was a sea eagle.


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. Traditionally this 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 dog heads and her body below that sprouts twelve canine legs and a fish's tail. She was one of the children of Phorcys and Ceto known as the Phorcydes.

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 her 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.


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