She was a sea-monster who haunted the rocks of the narrow Straits of Messina opposite the whirlpool of Charybdis.

Scylla was a nymph loved by Glaucus, but he himself was also loved by the goddess Circe. While Scylla was bathing in the sea, the jealous Circe poured a baleful potion into the sea water, which caused Scylla to transform into a frightful monster with four eyes and six long, snaky necks equipped with grisly heads, each of which contained three rows of sharp shark’s teeth. Her body consisted of 12 tentacle-like legs and a cat’s tail, while six dog’s heads ringed her waist. In this form, she attacked the ships of passing sailors, seizing one of the crew with each of her heads.

Parents: Crataeis

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Scylla. (c) Villains Wiki

Odysseus faced both Charybdis and Scylla while rowing through a narrow channel. He ordered his men to avoid Charybdis, thus forcing them to pass near Scylla, which resulted in the deaths of six of his men. Later, stranded on a raft, Odysseus was swept back through the strait and passed near Charybdis. His raft was sucked into her maw, but he survived by clinging to a fig tree growing on a rock over her lair. On the next outflow of water, when his raft was expelled, Odysseus recovered it and paddled away safely.

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Scylla and Charybdis. (c) Barkley S. Thomson

The Argonauts were able to avoid both dangers because Hera ordered the Nereid Thetis, Achilles’ mother, to guide them through the perilous passage.

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