SKYLLA (Scylla) was a sea-monster who haunted the rocks of a narrow strait opposite the whirlpool of Kharybdis (Charybdis). Ships who sailed too close to her rocks would lose six men to her ravenous, darting heads.

Homer describes Skylla as a creature with twelve dangling feet, six long necks and grisly heads lined with a triple row of sharp teeth. Her voice was likened to the yelping of dogs. This description of Skylla is probably derived from the imagery of words associated with her name–namely, “hermit-crab” (Greek skyllaros), “dog” and “dog-shark” (skylax), and “to rend” (skyllô). In classical art she was depicted as a fish-tailed sea-goddess with a cluster of canine fore-parts surrounding her waist.

According to late classical writers she was once a beautiful nymph loved by the sea-god Glaukos (Glaucus), but her jealous rival, the witch Kirke (Circe), employed magic to transform her into a monster. Older poets, however, envisaged Skylla as simply a monster born into a monstrous family.

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