Scylla and Charybdis

'We then sailed on up the narrow strait with wailing. For on one side lay Scylla and on the other divine Charybdis terribly sucked down the salt water of the sea. Verily whenever she belched it forth, like a cauldron on a great fire she would seethe and bubble in utter turmoil, and high over head the spray would fall on the tops of both the cliffs... So we looked toward her and feared destruction; but meanwhile Scylla seized from out the hollow ship six of my comrades who were the best in strength and in might.'

Odyssey xii.235ff. (et passim) (online text: Eng., Grk.)

Ancient Localizations

Thucydides 4.24.5 (online text: Eng., Grk.)
"The strait in question consists of the sea between Rhegium and Messina, at the point where Sicily approaches nearest to the continent, and is the Charybdis through which the story makes Ulysses sail…"
Polybius Histories 32.2ff. (online text: Eng., Grk.)
"See for instance how Homer's description of Scylla agrees with what really happens at the Scyllaean rock, and the taking of the sword fish….This would lead us to conjecture that the wandering described by Homer was near Sicily, because he has assigned to Scylla the kind of fishing which is indigenous to the Scyllaean rock; and because what he says of Charybdis correctly describes what does happen in the Straits. But the “"Thrice sends she up the darksome tide,"
in stead of twice "a day," is an error to be ascribed to the copyist or the geographer."
Justin Epitome of Pompeius Trogus 4.1 (online text: Eng., Lat.)
"The promontory of Italy on the side nearest to Sicily, is called Rhegium, because things broken off are designated by that term in Greek. Nor is it strange that antiquity should have been full of fables concerning these parts, in which so many extraordinary things are found together. The sea, in the first place, is nowhere so impetuous, pouring on with a current not only rapid but furious, not only frightful to those who feel its effects, but to those who view it from a distance. So fierce is the conflict of the waves as they meet, that you may see some of them, put to flight as it were, sink down into the depths, and others, as if victorious, rising up to the skies. Sometimes, in one part, you may hear the roaring of the sea as it boils up; and again, in another part, the groaning of it as it sinks into a whirlpool. Next are to be observed the adjacent and everlasting fires of Mount Aetna and the Aeolian islands, which burn as if their heat were nourished by the sea itself; nor indeed could such a quantity of fire have endured in such narrow bounds for so many ages unless it were supported by nourishment from the water. Hence fables produced Scylla and Charybdis; hence barkings were thought to have been heard; hence the appearances of monsters gained credit, as the sailors, frightened at the vast whirlpools of the subsiding waters, imagined that the waves, which the vortex of the absorbent gulf clashes together, actually barked."
Virgil Aeneid 3.548ff. (online text: Eng., Lat.)
" …that sailors' bane, / ship-shattering Scylaceum"
Ovid Metamorphoses 14.24-25 (online text: Eng., Lat.)
"I have found Scylla on Italian shores, / directly opposite Messenian walls."
Strabo 1.2.16 (online text: Eng., Grk.)
"[Polybius] then goes on to describe the manner in which they catch the sword-fish at Scyllaeum. One look-out directs the whole body of fishers, who are in a vast number of small boats, each furnished with two oars, and two men to each boat. One man rows, the other stands on the prow, spear in hand, while the look-out has to signal the appearance of a sword-fish. (This fish, when swimming, has about a third of its body above water.) As it passes the boat, the fisher darts the spear from his hand ... Afterwards they trail it to the shore, or, unless it is too large and full-grown, haul it into the boat. ... From these facts (he says) we may conclude that Ulysses' wanderings were close to Sicily, since Homer describes Scylla as engaging in a pursuit exactly similar to that which is carried on at Scyllaem. As to Charybdis, he describes just what takes place at the Strait of Messina ... "
Strabo 1.2.9 (online text: Eng., Grk.)
"Homer's narrative is founded on history. He tells us that ... the districts surrounding the strait were unapproachable; and Scylla and Charybdis were infested by banditti."
Ptolemy Geography 3.1
*Ptolemy links the Scyllaeum promontory with the Strait of Messina.


Strait of Messina

Cape Skilla

Lefkas, Ionian Islands