Scylla was a beautiful nymph, daughter of Phorcus and the nymph of the sea Crataeis (or according to others of Typhon and Echidna). She spent her days swimming happily into the waters that bath today’s Violet Coast or the ancient Zancle (today’s Messina). One day Glaucus, who once was a fisherman turned into a sea god half man half fish by the gods of the sea, sees her. He madly falls in love with Scylla, but the nymph does not return his feelings. Disappointed the young man goes to the sorceress Circe to ask for a filter to make Scylla fall in love with him. The enchantress falls infatuated with Glaucus, and instead of helping him, poisons the source where the nymph usually bathed and transforms her into the Monster Scylla: where she had legs grew up six long-necked dog heads. Because of shame the nymph hides in a cave, spreading terror among the sailors, who sailed through the Strait.
In San Rocco Square the wonderful bronze statue “Myth of Scylla” by the artist Francesco Triglia, represents the body of the nymph after the transformation into the Monster Scylla.
According to the ancients, opposite to the Monster Scylla (the one who tears) was the voracious Charybdis (the one who sucks), daughter of the king of the sea (Poseidon) and the Queen of the Earth Gaia. The voracious young woman stole from Heracles some oxen to eat them. Zeus found about it and transformed her into a sea monster.
Many artists were inspired by the myth of the two sea monsters: Homer was the first to mention in the Odyssey the presence of Charybdis who sucked three times a day the sea water in front of the Sicilian coasts of Torre Faro and refuted it eating the living creatures who found inside the water and Scylla, whom Ulysses would defy, looking into the face of the monster of which so much was told.
Virgil also mentions Scylla and Charybdis in the Aeneid, when Aeneas arrives in the waters of the Strait, but he offered a rational version of the myth, describing them as rocks, that the hero wisely avoids.
In the Metamorphoses Ovid, instead, tells us about the transformation of the nymph in the Monster Scylla and the poignant love of Glaucus who addresses the sorceress Circe.
Visiting some Italian and European museums you can admire paintings and sculptures, which represent Glaucus courting the nymph Scylla and the transformation of the latter in the Monster Scylla and of the myth of Charybdis.
Those who are sailing today in the waters of the Strait have some difficulty because of the strong currents at almost 90 kmh, but it is no longer adduced to the sea monster, but to the rapid currents that create whirlpools.
If you are interested in capturing the legendary atmosphere of the Calabrian town we recommend the tours Castles on the Violet Coast and The Violet Coast and to read the articles Little Southern Venice and The King of the Violet Coast.