Charybdis, and its counterpart Scylla were two monsters in the Odyssey. However, according to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Scylla was once a nymph.

"... had she not been transformed before they came into a reef whose rocks rise up today, and sailors shun her still and steer away."

Was Charybdis too once something else? And what did Charybdis do before Scylla?

  • 4
    See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charybdis#Overview: ""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. . ." Also, see theoi.com/Pontios/Kharybdis.html.
    – HDE 226868
    Mar 26, 2016 at 21:16
  • that's Scylla not skyla
    – Fey Ray
    Jun 18, 2016 at 21:29
  • @FeyRay as Scylla doesn't have an English translation I can spell it however I like.
    – tox123
    Jun 18, 2016 at 21:37
  • 1
    @tox123 Not if you want Classical scholars to know what you are talking about lol (it does transfer directly to Latinized text in that "u" is generally rendered as a y which Ancient Greek lacks. It should always have two L's, and c is preferred over k in this case because of pronunciation, Ancient Greek also not having a c.)
    – DukeZhou
    Sep 7, 2016 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


Couple of different things.

The ancient Greek scholia on Homer's Odyssey give several different accounts of the origin of Kharybdis. In one she was a daughter of Pontos (Sea) and Gaia (Earth) who laid siege to the land with her waves. Zeus, in anger, captured and chained her to the sea-bed. In another tale, she was a voracious women who stole the cattle of Herakles. For this reason Zeus cast her into the sea with the strike of a thunderbolt.

So according to Suidas, she could have

  1. been a monster already, who didn't like Zeus, or

  2. been a woman who stole cattle.

Also, she was speculated to be the goddess of tides.

KHARYBDIS (or Charybdis) was a sea monster or goddess whose gigantic whirlpool swirled in the straits of Messina, opposite the cliffs of the monster Skylla. She was probably the goddess of the tides, with her triple drawing-expulsion, mentioned by Homer, representing the three high-low tides of the day. Aristotle also clearly identified her with the tides.

So before Skyla, even, she was the goddess of tides, because, well, the tides always happened, right?

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