Charybdis was once a beautiful naiad, the daughter of Poseidon and Gaea. She takes the form of a huge mouth that swallows great amounts of water and debris three times a day, creating multiple massive whirlpools.
Charybdis was very loyal to her father in his endless feud with Zeus; it was she who rode the hungry tides after Poseidon had stirred up a storm, and led them onto the beaches, covering whole villages, submerging fields, drowning forests, claiming them for the sea. She won so much land for her father’s kingdom that Zeus became enraged and changed her into a monster forever.
The myths say that Charybdis lay on one side of a blue, narrow channel of water. On the other side of the strait was Scylla, her sister. The two sides of the strait are within an arrow’s range of each other, so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis will pass too close to Scylla and vice-versa.
Odysseus had to sail between her and Scylla while trying to return to his home of Ithica. The phrase “between Scylla and Charybdis” has come to mean being in a state where one is between two dangers and moving away from one will cause you to be in danger of the other. It is the origin of the phrase “between a rock and a hard place” – the rock upon which Scylla dwelt and the hard place being the whirlpool of Charybdis.
Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters
Clarisse La Rue takes her ironclad CSS Birmingham between Charybdis and Scylla to enter the Sea of Monsters, which is located in the Bermuda Triangle. Clarisse decides to sail closer to Charybdis because she feels that her ship’s cannons will be enough to destroy Charybdis and send her to Tartarus. In fact, Clarisse purposely faces Charybdis and Scylla because she wants the chance to destroy monsters, much to Annabeth Chase and Percy Jackson’s chagrin.
As the group gets pulled closer to the whirlpool, Percy tried to control the waves, but the roar and strength of Charybdis is overpowering and Percy is unable to control the water. When they are in range, Clarisse orders her undead soldiers to fire and three shots hit Charybdis with no effect at all. When Tyson fixes the engines and they start to pull away, Clarisse orders them to stay close so they can keep firing. Before they can, Charybdis closes her mouth and the water covers her. She then releases a blast of water that causes the CSS Birmingham to go out of control and heavily damaged as the hull cracks. Even one of the cannonballs that Clarisse had fired is shot back and hits her ship. It is quickly discovered that the wave of water caused Clarisse’s ship to sail too close to Scylla and one of her undead crew members is eaten right off the deck.