Between Scylla and Charybdis. Pre Election Discourse:

Does Obama really seem the ideal helmsman? Could Romney chart a course that would proscribe full middle-class employment?
More so than ever, the voter perils of choice seem to lie “between Scylla and Charybdis”.

The myth of Scylla and Charybdis was often used in political cartoons. In James Gillray‘s Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis (3 June 1793)[3], ‘William Pitt helms the ship Constitution, containing an alarmed Britannia, between the rock of democracy (with the liberty cap on its summit) and the whirlpool of arbitrary power (in the shape of an inverted crown), to the distant haven of liberty’.

The Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley refers to the same constitutional dilemma in the aftermath of the French Revolution in his 1820 essay A Defence of Poetry: “The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the state is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism.”

I am familiar with Shelly. Our eldest son is named Ozymandias after a Shelley poem: Ozymandias King of Kings”.
Our son has no surface interest in history.
However, in the event that one day he might make something of himself, I sometimes attempt to aquaint him with TS Eliot and Homer:

Homer: The Odyssey. Book X11

In the middle of it there is a large cavern, looking West and turned towards Erebus; you must take your ship this way, but the cave is so high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into it. Inside it Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to be that of a young hound, but in truth she is a dreadful monster and no one- not even a god- could face her without being terror-struck. She has twelve mis-shapen feet, and six necks of the most prodigious length; and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head with three rows of teeth in each, all set very close together, so that they would crunch any one to death in a moment, and she sits deep within her shady
cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rock, fishing for dolphins or dogfish or any larger monster that she can catch, of the thousands with which Amphitrite teems. No ship ever yet got past her without losing some men, for she shoots out all her heads at once, and carries off a man in each mouth.
“‘You will find the other rocks lie lower, but they are so close together that there is not more than a bowshot between them. [A large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it], and under it lies the sucking whirlpool of Charybdis. Three times in the day does she vomit forth her waters, and three times she sucks them down again; see that you be not there when she is sucking, for if you are, Neptune himself could not save you; you must hug the Scylla side and drive ship by as fast as you can, for you had better lose six men than your whole crew.’
“‘Is there no way,’ said I, ‘of escaping Charybdis, and at the same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men?’
“‘You dare-devil,’ replied the goddess, you are always wanting to fight somebody or something; you will not let yourself be beaten even by the immortals. For Scylla is not mortal; moreover she is savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible. There is no help for it; your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you can, for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armour, she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads, and snap up another half dozen of your men; so drive your ship past her at full speed, and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla’s dam, bad luck to her; she will then stop her from making a second raid upon you.

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