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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in Ancient Greece

Skylla the sea-monster

Height: 12.500 cm

GR 1867.5-8.673 (Terracotta 621)

Skylla the sea-monster

From: Mílos, Aegean Sea
Date: about 465-435 BC

The ancient Greeks told stories about many strange creatures. Skylla was part-woman, part-sea-monster, with six dogs’ heads. Can you see them coming out of her waist? The writer Homer said that each of her heads had three rows of teeth, 'thick and close, and full of black death'.

Skylla lived in a cave in a high cliff. Sailors had to sail close to the cliff or they would be sucked into a huge whirlpool nearby. As they sailed past, Skylla's six heads would snatch six victims from the decks of the ship.