In Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were two monstrous sea creatures that dwelled in the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and Italy. They were so close to each other that sailors had to steer a narrow course to avoid them, often risking their lives. Scylla was a six-headed beast with sharp teeth and claws, who would snatch and devour any sailors who came too close to her rocky lair. Charybdis was a whirlpool that sucked in and spat out huge amounts of water three times a day, creating a deadly vortex that could swallow whole ships. According to some legends, both Scylla and Charybdis were once beautiful nymphs who were transformed into monsters by the gods as a punishment for their crimes or misfortunes. The most famous encounter with Scylla and Charybdis was that of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. On his long journey home from the Trojan War, Odysseus had to sail past the perilous strait. He was advised by the sorceress Circe to avoid Charybdis at all costs, and to hug the shore of Scylla, sacrificing some of his men rather than losing his entire ship. Odysseus followed her advice, but still lost six of his companions to Scylla’s hungry jaws. He later had to face Charybdis again, when his raft was destroyed by a thunderbolt from Zeus. He managed to escape by clinging to a fig tree until the whirlpool spit out the remains of his raft, which he used to paddle away. The myth of Scylla and Charybdis has become a metaphor for a dilemma in which one has to choose between two equally dangerous options.