Scylla as a maiden with a kētos tail and dog heads sprouting from her body. Detail from a red-figure bell-crater in the Louvre, 450–425 BCE. This form of Scylla was prevalent in ancient depictions, though very different from the description in Homer, where she is land-based and more dragon-like.[1]

In Greek mythology, Scylla[2] (ə/ SIL-ə; Greek: Σκύλλα, pronounced [skýl̚la], Skylla) was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa.

Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster.[3]

The strait where Scylla dwelled has been associated with the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, for example, as in Book Three of Virgil's Aeneid.[4] The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.


Scylla on the reverse of a first century B.C. denarius minted by Sextus Pompeius

The parentage of Scylla varies according to author.[5] Homer, Ovid, Apollodorus, Servius, and a scholiast on Plato, all name Crataeis as the mother of Scylla.[6] Neither Homer nor Ovid mention a father, but Apollodorus says that the father was either Trienus (Triton?) or Phorcus (a variant of Phorkys),[7] similarly the Plato scholiast, perhaps following Apollodorus, gives the father as Tyrrhenus or Phorcus,[8] while Eustathius on Homer, Odyssey 12.85, gives the father as Triton.

Other authors have Hecate as Scylla's mother. The Hesiodic Megalai Ehoiai gives Hecate and Phoebus Apollo as the parents of Scylla,[9] while Acusilaus says that Scylla's parents were Hecate and Phorkys (so also schol. Odyssey 12.85).[10]

Perhaps trying to reconcile these conflicting accounts, Apollonius of Rhodes says that Crataeis was another name for Hecate, and that she and Phorcys were the parents of Scylla.[11] Likewise, Semos of Delos (FGrHist 396 F 22) says that Crataeis was the daughter of Hecate and Triton, and mother of Scylla by Deimos. Stesichorus (alone) names Lamia as the mother of Scylla, possibly the Lamia who was the daughter of Poseidon,[12] while according to Hyginus, Scylla was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna.[13]

Other Languages
العربية: سيلا (حورية)
asturianu: Escila
български: Сцила
bosanski: Skila
brezhoneg: Skylla (euzhvil)
čeština: Skylla
corsu: Scilla
dansk: Skylla
Deutsch: Skylla
Ελληνικά: Σκύλλα
español: Escila
Esperanto: Skilo
فارسی: سکولا
français: Scylla (monstre)
한국어: 스킬라
hrvatski: Skila
Bahasa Indonesia: Skilla
italiano: Scilla (mostro)
ქართული: სკილა
Lëtzebuergesch: Skylla
lietuvių: Scilė
Bahasa Melayu: Scylla
Nederlands: Scylla (nimf)
日本語: スキュラ
norsk: Skylla
polski: Skylla
português: Cila
română: Scila
Simple English: Scylla
slovenščina: Scila (pošast)
српски / srpski: Scila
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Skila
suomi: Skylla
svenska: Skylla
Türkçe: Scylla
українська: Скілла
West-Vlams: Scylla
中文: 斯库拉