Saturday, April 4, 2015

Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla and Charybdis
(Sicily, Strait of Messina)

         Scylla and Charybdis, 
                                from the past,

         was the famous, deadly strait.

          Years and years 

                                before the mast,

          to tell a secret, I can’t wait.

          I sailed, many like it

          and I am still alive.

          The secret is...  I admit,

          more in the city 
                            fought to survive.

* Extract from "The Broken Mooring Line", an experiential poetic work 
by Odysseus Heavilayias. / page c14-15-16/ e-mail: /
Language adjustments and text adaptation Kellene G Safis,
Digital adaptation and text editing Cathy Rapakoulia Mataraga

*  Scylla and Charybdis: The sea monster Charybdis lives under a small rock on one side of a narrow channel. Opposite her is Scylla,  another sea-monster, that lives inside a much larger rock. The sides of the strait are within an arrow shot of each other, and sailors attempting to avoid one of them will come in reach of the other.

''Between Scylla and Charybdis'',  thus means to having to choose between two dangers, either of which brings harm. Three times a day, Charybdis swallows a huge amount of water, before belching it back out again, creating large whirlpools capable of dragging a ship underwater. In some variations of the story, Charybdis is simply a large whirlpool instead of a sea monster.

A later myth makes Charybdis the daughter of  Poseidon and Gaia and living as a loyal servant to Poseidon. She aided him in his feud with Zeus, and as such, helped him engulf lands and islands in water. Zeus, angry for the land she stole from him, cursed her into a hideous bladder of a monster, with flippers for arms and legs, and an uncontrollable thirst for the sea. As such, she drank the water from the sea thrice a day to quench it, which created whirlpools. She lingered on a rock with Scylla facing her directly on another rock, making a strait.

The theoretical size of Charybdis remains unknown, yet in order to consume Greek ships the whirlpool can be estimated to about 75 feet across. Charybdis has been associated with the Strait of Messina, off the coast  of Sicily  and opposite a rock on the mainland identified with Scylla. 
Were Charybdis to be located in the Strait of Messina it would in fact have the size to accommodate the whirlpool. A whirlpool does exist there, caused by currents meeting, but it is seldom dangerous.

The Tales of a Greek Sailor

No comments:

Post a Comment