by Elly Green
The story of Scylla has always interested me. For the most part, all anyone ever knows about her is her part in the trap Odysseus finds himself as he navigates the Mediterranean on his trip home, caught between her and Charybdis. While Charybdis is nothing more than a whirlpool, Scylla has a whole other history. She is but one of a handful of women cursed throughout mythology through little fault of her own.
Medusa, Cassandra, and Pandora have all gotten their fair share of publicity. Heck, even Arachne got her name on a whole class of bugs. But Scylla, alas, nothing but a few mentions here and there, and always with Charybdis. What about the woman? Her life, her home… her loves. I felt it was past time for her own story to be told. Not what she became, but who she was.
In my retelling of this myth story, instead of focusing on the woman scorned, I chose to focus on the other two participants in her cursed existence. Through their eyes, Scylla is a true victim. She has little voice in the story, her own feelings a far distant third to Glaucus and Circe’s tumultuous relationship. She gets no say in what happens to her, no recourse, no opportunity to revenge those who wronged her. Is it really any wonder that she eventually becomes the monster of the Odyssey, eagerly snatching helpless men from their ships and killing them senselessly.
This short story is one in a series of erotically charged Greek mythology retellings. I prefer to work on the lesser known stories in the massive body of myth. Instead of retelling the old gods in new, more modern places or with eroticism tossed in wherever the author feels like it, I search high and low for those stories which were originally erotic. Unlike today’s society, the ancient Greeks were a rowdy, passionate people, who embraced love in every form and thought nothing of its explicitness. This expanded to include their religious fables. Over time, the stories have been whitewashed, toned down, and cleaned up, but still that eroticism glints from within the depths of (Pandora’s) box. It is that gem I pick up and polish off, making it gleam and glitter once again. I give those ancient gods back their passion, their love, their naughty explicitness. I’m sure Aphrodite would approve.
Anthologies which include this story: