Bronze handled dish (patera) showing Scylla


British Museum

British Museum

The centre of the dish has relief decoration showing the sea-demon Scylla attacking the companions of Ulysses (Odysseus). The scene is taken from Homer's Odyssey and shows the moment when Ulysses and his companions negotiated the treacherous Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily. As they were preoccupied with avoiding the deadly whirlpool Charybdis, they were suddenly attacked by the sea-monster Scylla who slaughtered six of the crew. Scylla towers above the ship and seizes one crewman, while the dogs that form her lower body savage several others. The eyes of the men and dogs are inlaid with silver, and the handle is now lost. The arrangement of the figures recalls the large marble statue group showing the same scene, found in the grotto of Tiberius at Sperlonga. The British Museum also has parts of a colossal sculptural group representing Scylla, from Bargylia, south-western Turkey.

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  • Title: Bronze handled dish (patera) showing Scylla
  • Date Created: 1/99
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 40.64cm; Diameter: 27.94cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: inlaid
  • Subject: classical mythology; mythical figure/creature; boat/ship
  • Registration number: 1897,0726.7
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Boscoreale
  • Period/culture: Roman
  • Material: bronze; silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Vitalini, V