The Strait of Scylla and Charybdis in the Modern Imagination


Turning to a region of South Italy associated with the heritage of Greater Greece and the geographies of Homer’s Odyssey, Marco Benoît Carbone delivers a historical and ethnographic treatment of how places defined in public imagination and media by force of their associated historical events become sites of memory and identity, as their landscape, heritage, and mythologies turn into insignia of a romanticised antiquity.

For the ancient Greeks, Homer had set the marine monsters of the Odyssey in the Strait between Calabria and Sicily. Since then, this Mediterranean passage has been glowing with the literary aura of its mythological landmarks. Travellers and tourists have played Odysseus by re-enacting his journey. Scholars and explorers have explained the myths as metaphors of whirlpools and marine fauna. The iconic Strait and village of Scilla have turned into chrono-topic place-myths and playgrounds, defined by their literary aura and the region’s ancient heritage, inspiring representations in media, travels and tourism.

Carbone observes the enduring impact of Hellas on the real Strait today. The fascinations of artists and travellers, and their continuous rekindling of cultural and visual traditions of place have intersected withphilhellenic Western historiographies, shaping local policies, public histories, views of development and tourism, and forms of Hellenicist identitarianism. Elements of society have celebrated the landscape of the Odyssey, appropriated Homer as their imagined heirs and fellow citizen, and even purported themselves as the original Europeans, thus pandering to outdated ideological appropriations of ‘classical’ antiquity and exclusionary, West-centric views of the Mediterranean.

Table of Contents

Introduction (read online / download)
Notes on Places and People
List of Illustrations

2. The Strait of Homer and the Strait of Reality (read an excerpt)
3. Chronotopes of Hellas: The Grand Tour (read an excerpt)
4. Mediterranean Place-Myths (read an excerpt)
5. Myths of Myths: Mapping the Odyssey (read an excerpt)
6. Materialising Heritage: Tourism in Scilla (read an excerpt)
7. Denizens of the Odyssey (read / download an excerpt)
8. Conclusions: (Re)-Imagining the Strait (read an excerpt)


Review and complimentary copies:

– marcobenoitcarbone at gmail dot com