Tag Archives: sea monster

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.

Wisconsin’s Devil’s Lake

Context & Background: 

RK has lived in southeast Wisconsin for 10 years and has visited the famous Devil’s Lake a couple of times. She tells the legend of the Baraboo monster that lives in Devil’s Lake

Performance: (via phone call)

My mom who is from Northern Wisconsin, has told me stories of Devils’s Lake. Even in the northern part of the state, this lake is famous and obviously all this legends and stuff is bullcrap, but it’s interesting to listen to the stories. So yea, my mom told me that even before the European settlers to Wisconsin, the native american people would beware of the lake and called it something in their original language that meant ‘bad spirit’. I mean now it’s called Devil’s lake, so I think they might have gotten it from them. They say that there is a monster who lives in the lake called Baraboo and it’s like the loch-ness monster, kind of. But yea, that’s basically the story and its not scary or anything, but it’s still cool to have something creepy in our neck of the woods. 


I lived in the same town as RK for 7 years and didn’t know the exact story of the lake. But it seems like a lot of Wisconsin history and culture is influenced by the Native American population that lived here. Unfortunately, there isn’t much Native American activity in that region in the current time period, but it’s very interesting to see how beliefs get transferred between cultures over large periods of time. 

For another source, see: Mallach, Lynn, and Lynn Mallach. “Legend and Folklore of the Devil’s Lake Monster.” Apex Adventure Alliance, 15 Apr. 2019, apexadventurealliance.com/legend-and-folklore-of-the-devils-lake-monster/.