Sea Monsters and Mermaids – Scylla

According to Ovid, the Roman poet, Scylla was a beautiful nymph!

The sea-god, Glaucus, fell in love with her.

But he had fins instead of arms and a fish’s tail instead of legs. Scylla was appalled!

So she fled from him onto the land and he despaired.

He went to the sorceress Circe to ask for a love potion. As he spoke he wove a spell over the mighty Circe and, in her turn, she fell in love with him. But Glaucus would have none of her.

Circe was angry. She decided to take her revenge and prepared a very powerful poison.

The jealous sorceress poured the vial into the pool where Scylla bathed. As soon as the nymph entered the water, she was transformed into a frightful monster with twelve feet and six heads. Each head had three jagged rows of teeth and angry, growling wolf heads grew from her waist.

Scylla’s pain was so great she was rooted to the spot. In her distress she started to strike out destroying everything that came near her. Whenever a ship passed by, each of her heads would seize one of the crew.

Greek tradition sited Scilla on one side of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland. The strait connects the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Ionian Se,. On the Italian side was a vicious rock shoal – the six-headed sea monster! On the Sicilian side was Charybdis, the whirlpool, but that is different story!

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