Scylla (left) and Charybdis (right) torment Odysseus and his invisible ship's crew.
Scylla lurks inside it - the yelping horror,
yelping, louder than any suckling pup
but she's a grisly monster, I assure you.
No one could look on her with any joy,
not even a god who meets her face-to-face . . .
She has twelve legs, all writhing, dangling down
and six long swaying necks, a hideous head on ech,
each head barbed with a triple row of fangs, thickset,
packed tight - and armed to the hilt with black death!
Holed up in the cavern's bowels from her waist down
she shoots out her heads, out of that terrifying pit,
angling right from her nest, wildly sweeping the reefs
for dolphins, dogfish or any bigger quarry she can drag
from the thousands Amphitrite spawns in groaning seas.
No mariners yet can boast they've raced their ship
past Scylla's lair without some mortal blow -
with each of her six heads she snatches up
a man from the dark-prowed craft and whisks him off.
The other crag is lower - you will see, Odysseus -
though both lie side-by-side, an arrow-shot apart.
Atop it a great fig-tree rises, shaggy with leaves,
beneath it awesome Charybdis gulps the dark water down.
Three times a day she vomits it up, three times she gulps it down,
that terror! Don't be there when the whirlpool swallows down -
not even the earthquake god could save you from disaster.
The Odyssey, Book 12: The Cattle of the Sun. Fagles translation, lines 94 - 118.
Odysseus and his men land on the island with the Cattle. You're not supposed to eat them, they belong to the gods. So of course they have a barbeque, while Odysseus stands around the campfire saying 'guys, I really don't think this is a good idea' and 'I hear tofu is good this time of year'. And surprise! The gods are not happy, bad things happen, and they're shipwrecked again and land on Calypso's island. And Odysseus emerges from his lengthy flashback and tells the Phaeacians he's not going to tell any more of the story. Wah.