Scylla and Charybdis: Folk tale monsters


“I really like the story of Scylla and Charybdis– which also relates to the saying of being between a rock and a hard place; and some people alternatively say ‘between Scylla and Charybdis.’ It’s because the whole tale goes, in two stories, people are trying to sail through this narrow path. It’s between this big cliff where this legendary monster known as Scylla resides within. Scylla used to be this normal and beautiful woman, but she was cursed to be a monster with dog heads sprouting from her lower half, and now she’s gained monstrous features like scales. These dog heads constantly hunger, so now she’s just become a monster who hides within the cliffs.”

In the water is Charybdis. Charybdis is a child of Poseidon, I think. She’s a huge monster, and you never actually see her in her entirety. What stays the same among depictions, however, is her gaping maw that summons a whirlpool going down into an unending amount of teeth.”

In the tales, the main character is on the ship, but the problem with sailing through is that sailing away from the whirlpool places you next to Scylla where the wolf heads will begin to pluck crewmates off the boat and eat them whole. But if you sail away from Scylla, you risk your entire boat getting completely destroyed by Charybdis.”


“I really like this mythos because– first of all this would be a terrifying situation. As a fan of big monsters, there’s not a lot of big monster situations that would be as dreary as this.”

“Dad showed me cool monster things because he got me into that stuff. So there were Greek mythology books and games and figures that I enjoyed, including sea monsters like this.”

“This story is very relatable to picking the lesser of two evils. In order to carve your own path forward, you have to show your resolve. This was also probably something used to explain the phenomenon of whirlpools and jagged rocks that probably sunk ships.”


The tale of Scylla and Charybdis was certainly heavily referred to as a way for early humans to make sense of the world around them. I think an important piece of this tale is the lesson of making the most of a bad situation. It teaches people that sometimes there just seems to be no good option. The tale ensures and validates the idea that it’s impossible to know what choice is the right one at every given moment, but no matter what, one must resolve to press on, push through, and handle the consequences.