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From: <akt@attglobal.net>
Subject: (whorl) Scylla
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2001 13:11:14 


The Scylla favored by Wolfe is the sea-monster in your second
description (she is also associated with the lamia, which accounts for
the snakey bits). Together with her sidekick Charybdis (a feminized
whirlpool who sucked in boats) she became a formidable obstacle for
sailors--she's described in the Odyssey (Book VII) as a yelping
six-headed dog-like monster who snatches sailors and devours them. Both
Jason of the Argo and Odysseus had to get past her. Some of the many
descriptions of her by other writers are even more horrible (and
unpleasant for her, one would think). The truly nausea-inducing portrait
of Sin in Paradise Lost--with her own sidekick, Death, the other
guardian of Hell, she pursues Satan across the void (Book II)--is based
closely on the nastiest of these. Scylla and Charybdis, with the
Clashing Rocks, are traditionally considered to be off the coast of
Sicily, which was in turn associated with Hell. A euphemisn, for
centuries, was "sailing to Sicily." Sorry to be so pedantic, but on one
level Wolfe (and our Scylla herself) is certainly playing on the
literary aspects of this double portrait.


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