Another day, another idiom. This time we’re entering Greek mythology as we tackle: tomber de Charybde en Scylla / from the frying pan into the fire.
Some French idioms are either very similar to their English equivalent or easy to guess by their meaning. Think of “let bygones be bygones” (“passer l’éponge sur”) or “birds of a feather flock together” (qui se rassemble, s’assemble”).
Others are in a different league altogether and are hard to crack without prior knowledge. I’m not a huge football fan but let’s say that if these idioms played in a team they’d be more Manchester United than Frickley Athletic.
So what better to choose for my second idiom in this series than “tomber de Charybde en Scylla”. A suitably strange sounding phrase and on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “easy as pie” and 10 being “think I’ll change career” this one comes in at a good 7. Perfect for this blog then.
I’m not that well up on Greek mythology but may well be by the end of this blog, as this and other idioms stem from Greek myths. Charybde is known as Charybdis in English and is the name of a whirlpool (un tourbillon) that was located in a narrow section of sea opposite a cave. And within this cave lurked Scylla, a sea monster. The meaning of the French idiom is therefore clear: you might steer towards the cave to avoid the whirlpool but you’re swapping potential drowning for a possible mauling (déchiqueter). Not sure whether sea monsters maul or have another method of dealing with their prey, but you get the idea.