The Myth of Glaucus

Dante often referred to mythological stories and characters in his Divine Comedy.  The myth of Glaucus is mentioned in Paradiso.

The Myth of Glaucus


This myth is mentioned in Dante’s Paradise. Glaucus was a fisherman who one day after spreading his catch on the grass by the sea, watched as all of his fish revived and bounced back into the water.  Thinking the grass may have had some supernatural power, Glaucus ate a handful.  He immediately had a powerful longing for the sea and dove into the water.  The gods of the sea then turned Glaucus into a sea god giving him seaweed-like hair and a fish’s tail.  The myth ends on a sad note when Glaucus falls in love with a beautiful nymph named Scylla who he saw bathing in the bay one day.  Scylla would have no part of him however, and fled from Glaucus.

Desperate to have Scylla, Glaucus went to an enchantress named Circe and asked to her concoct a potion to make Scylla fall in love with him.  However Glaucus’ pleading with Circe had the effect of making Circe fall in love with Glaucus.  But Glaucus hand no interest in Circe, his only desire was Scylla.  This initiated Circe’s wrath toward Scylla.  In her anger, Circe produced a poison that she poured into the bay where Scylla bathed.  The next time Scylla entered the water she was turned into monster with serpents and the heads ravenous of dogs growing out of her body.  She was forever attached to a rock by the bay.

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