Megan E. Tripaldi
The Ballad of Charybdis


Have you ever heard the tale of the infamous whirlpool?
A villain of the Odyssey itself
Her name, paired with the many-headed monster, Scylla –
Together they tore apart the ancient world
But there’s so much more than what Homer had to say
She has her own story and she has her own name!
Her story isn’t long but it’s a tale that’s well worth telling
So don’t believe the hype that the historians are selling!
Charybdis – I’m sure you’ve heard of her before
(If you paid any attention in high school English class)
Devourer of ships and the men that bestrid them
Her jaws the sea itself – yet the sea was her prison
We bring you here tonight so she can tell her story
We’re gathered here to put a face to the legend
We don’t have much time, so we’ll move fast as her waters
And let her tell the story of The Earth and Sea’s only daughter…
                  A rumbling…She’s coming! A hush falls over the crowd…MUSIC – a transformation! CHARYBDIS emerges!

Movement I

I hear you –
I hear you, like a whisper on the breeze
I hear my name and it’s like it all comes back to me
We don’t have a lot of time together,
The waters call me home
So I’ll regale you with my history
And remind you that I am Olympian royalty!
Papa was one of the gods devoured by the Titan, Kronos
Swallowed him up like a grape when he was small
But the “mighty” Zeus, (my uncle), ripped open his stomach like a letter
Yeah, Zeus saved their lives, but in my opinion Papa was better!
Poseidon, the god of the Sea!
He’s the one that fathered me
And Gaia!
My mother was the earth itself
Together they created me and I became IN-VIN-CI-BLE!

Movement II

Charybdis, devourer of men!
Charybdis, the whirlpool of the damned!
Charybdis, my name inspires fear!
But how did I get here?
As I said…
I was born of the Earth and the Sea
And my father was so proud
He knew I’d do great things, he always told me so
My job was to keep our home safe and clean
I filtered out the water so it was pristine
Though occasionally more than your average filth got in
I swallowed my fair share of men…and their ships…
And my stupid uncle
He was just the worst
Sure he ruled Olympus
But he was the curse
Yeah everyone knew
All the horrors he did
And they still said nothing
So he kept on ruling
One day Zeus came down
And confronted my father
And told him to his face
What a menace I was
He blamed me for swallowing
Too many ships
When I was just doing
What my father told me to
Apparently I was a
“Danger to mortals”
So suddenly Zeus started
Caring for mortals
So he decided that he’d
Fashion my punishment
In the form of a chain
That kept me in one place
On the bottom of the sea!
And nobody’d come for me!
On the bottom of the sea!
And Papa said nothing…
Except, “do your job.”
So I did…
And the ships kept on coming
And coming and coming
And I kept on swallowing
Swallowing, swallowing
And I started gaining
A bad reputation
And gaining, and gaining
And gaining, and gaining
And swirling, and swirling
And turning, and turning
And it never ends, it just always goes on
And on, and on, and on, and on, and oooooon!
And even after all the heroes eluded me…
I still remained.
I still remain.

Movement III

I guess I never knew what I was asking for
A demigoddess doing her job and nothing more
So I swallowed a ship or a fleet…who hasn’t?
Is it true then that I deserved this punishment?
I was so proud – I finally thought I’d made it
I finally thought Papa saw I was worth it
I knew that I was powerful, but I couldn’t contain myself
Should I have known that I would end up here?
Charybdis, devourer of men!
Charybdis, swirling in infinitum!
Charybdis…my name is a black scar…
I guess I should’ve known what I was asking for…

Movement IV

But Papa…Poseidon, well – he wasn’t the best dad
Had a lot of torrid affairs
And a huge problem with consent
I know what he did
All the things that he did
I know what he is guilty of
I know the history
I am conflicted
‘Cause he is my father
But he didn’t stand up for me when it counted so
I’m tired of defending him!
He is a monster.
I hate that I loved him.
But he is my father…
And Mama…
I know you were busy
Being the world
Putting up with the world
But I wish just once…
I wish just once you could’ve saved me…

Movement V 

But what am I saying?
I made no such choice…
My father and uncle
Are the ones who stole my voice
I’ve always had power
I’ve always had might
My strength is still deep inside
Rearing to fight
My power is my own
That’s my real identity
I’m in the histories
Monster of the Odyssey!
It’s me! Yeah, me!
They wrote! Of me!
My reputation remains
Monster of the Sea!
So take that Poseidon!
Zeus, where are you now?
I’m still here
And I’m radiating with power
Charybdis is my name
You can’t take it from me!
If I am a monster
Then that’s who I’ll be!
I am the whirlpool
That swallowed armies
I drowned the Trojans
I drowned the Greeks
If you sail my way
And the wind is just right
I’ll open my jaws
And swallow you right down
To the depths! To the dark!
Where Hades awaits
And your soul will be carried
Down the Styx, through the gates
This is my kingdom
You cannot cross me
I am the infinite
Guardian of the Sea!
           Lightning! Thunder! MUSIC! CHARYBDIS swirls the world around her and disappears into the mist from whence she


You’ve now heard her story
You’ve seen what’s been done
You know now what you must do
The work has begun
Keep telling her story
Keep saying her name
Free her from the stigma
Free her from the shame
And pick up your plastic
Compost if you can
We’re not being preachy
Just saving our planet
You just witnessed a Goddess
Reclaiming her name
Now you have the power
To go do the same.
            The End!

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