Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla and Charybdis were terrible monsters!

Happy New Year everyone! Have you ever noticed that many terms we use in the English language are from Greek mythology? For example, being caught between Scylla and Charybdis means that you must make a choice between two equally unpleasant options.

The hero of Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus, is faced with many challenges on his way home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. One terrible choice he had to make was deciding which monster, Scylla or Charybdis, was the lesser of two evils. “Charybdis sucked down the sea three times a day and three times vomited it up again – a whirlpool in which no ship might live. And in a cave, midway up the right-hand rock another monster, Scylla by name, had her lair. She had six heads on long thin scaly necks, and in each mouth three rows of grinding teeth and twelve long feelers with claws at their ends, with which she caught her prey: big fish or dolphins – or men if any passed that way (Page 41)”. Odysseus chooses Scylla, losing six of his men along the way; this was better than losing his entire crew and ship.

Have you ever been caught between Scylla and Charybdis? In a famous song by The Police, Scylla and Charybdis are mentioned; do you know the name of the song?

*Quote cited from The Wanderings of Odysseus by Rosemary Sutcliff.


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