Are the deaths of the six shipmates killed by Scylla Odysseus's fault?This occurs in book 12. I know it's rather opinionated but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

2 Answers

urthona's profile pic

urthona | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Odysseus explicitly takes responsibility for Scylla devouring the six oarsmen:

. . . For my part,

I let go from my mind the difficult instruction that Circe

Had given me, for she told me not to be armed for combat;

But I put on my glorious armor and, taking up two long

Spears in my hands, I stood bestriding the vessel’s foredeck

At the prow. . . .

[Book XII, ll. 225-29; Lattimore translation]

Guilt drips from his reaction to the carnage:

That was the most pitiful scene these eyes have looked on

In my sufferings as I explored the routes over water.

[Book XII, ll. 258-59]

Who's to argue with the hero himself?

junebug614's profile pic

junebug614 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I think it depends on how you look at the situation.  Odysseus was put in a tough spot -- to either sail by Charybdis and risk all the men being killed or sail by Scylla and know that 6 men would have to be sacrificed.  I think he made the best decision; I also, however, think he can be blamed for not warning the men about what they may encounter on the water, though that may have caused hysteria.