Scylla and Charybdis

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  • Scylla sat in her cave high up the cliff. Under the second, lower cliff, Charybdis sucked in and spat forth the ocean waters.
  • Finally, they were beyond the voices of the Sirens. Their next danger was near: they had to pass through two towering cliffs, where the monsters Scylla and Charybdis lurked.
  • Do not be afraid! We have come through too many disasters to turn back. Take up your oars like brave men and send our ship through to safety!
  • The men felt a little better after Odysseus' encouraging words.
  • However, Odysseus did not tell them the whole truth about Scylla. He knew that her six mouths would devour six of his oarsmen, and Circe told him that he would not be able to fight her.
  • Six of his oarsmen were lifted from their seats, while screaming to Odysseus for help. Scylla devoured them before his eyes, and against his instincts, Odysseus did not try to fight her.
  • It was a painful choice that Odysseus had to make: he knew that losing six of his men was better than having his whole crew destroyed. Nevertheless, the failure to save his men was bitter to him.
  • The ship escaped, and a strong wind carried them towards the Island of the Sun.
  • End of Chapter XVII
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