gasping as Scylla swung them up her cliff and there
at her cavern's mouth she bolted them down raw—
screaming out, flinging their arms toward me,
lost in that mortal struggle.
|~ Odysseus's description of Scylla's attack.|
Scylla is a major antagonist in Greek and Roman mythology, appearing in Homer's Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses and the myths of Eustathius.
Scylla was originally a beautiful sea nymph and the daughter of Phorcys who was pursued by the sea-god Glaucus, but fled from him because of his piscine features. As a result, Glaucus went to the sorceress Circe to procure a love potion for Scylla, however Circe, who was in love with him, instead poured a potion into the pool where Scylla was bathing, turning her into a hideous monster.
Scylla lived in the Strait of Messina opposite Charybdis, eating all sailors who passed her rock, thus leaving them with the option to either sail close to Scylla and be eaten or sail close to Charybdis and be sunk.
When the Greek hero Odysseus sailed through the Strait of Messina, he, warned by Circe, sailed close to Scylla, as she could only eat six men, whereas Charybdis could and would destroy his ship and kill all the crew. Scylla did indeed eat six men, but Odysseus and the majority of his crew got through unharmed.
Scylla was later killed by the legendary Greek hero Heracles (often identified as Hercules) when he visited the area.