ShellI told you the sad story of Scylla, the beautiful maiden who was transformed into a hideous monster. There is another side to the tale.

In the strait of Messina, the channel of water which lies between the toe of the boot (Calabria) and Sicily, there was a tale that two huge rocks would come crashing together to try to crush any luckless sailor who sent his ship through this narrow. Scylla was on one side and she would appear to crush the ship and eat all of the men on board. The other side was Charybdis who was also portrayed as a rock but she, like Scylla, had another aspect as well.

Again, the tale of Charybdis is a cautionary tale for women, so popular then as now. Charybdis was a beautiful young girl, the daughter of Poseidon who defended her father when he had a dispute with Zeus. Charybdis submerged a great deal of Zeus’ land holdings under water to aid her father. Zeus became so enraged that he turned her into a hideous grey-green bladder-like monster with flippers, spiky outcroppings, warty skin, bulging eyes, and an unquenchable thirst so that she had to drink the entire contents of the sea three times a day and vomit it forth when she had been distended to her breaking point. The spell was never taken back and she became associated with whirlpools and treacherous seascapes around the Straits of Messina.

She was half of the Scylla and Charybdis rock formation mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey and Ulysses had to successfully sail by this duo in his adventures.

Today the Strait of Messina is filled with long prowed fishing boats looking for swordfish and there are no magic rocks or slurping goddesses to make you question your eyes.

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