Cephalus and Procris

This Greek myth is the tragic love story of Cephalus, a beautiful young man and his wife, Procris. It could be viewed as being about the importance of not gossiping.

Cephalus enjoyed hunting and would get up early to hunt in the woods. The story begins with Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, stealing Cephalus up into the heavens because she fell in love with him. Cephalus, however, had just recently married his wife Procris, whom he loved. He told Aurora that he loved his wife and wanted to go back to her. Aurora gives in but warns him, “I will let you go back to your mortal wife but I’ll warn you that someday you will be sorry to see her”.

So, Cephalus goes back to being happy with his wife on Earth. Procris, his wife, was a favorite herself of a goddess. Diana, the goddess of the hunt, favored her and as a token of that gave her a dog that could outrun all other animals and a javelin that would always hit its mark, as gifts. Procris gives both these gifts to her husband to use while he hunts.

Then it turns out that an unknown god has created and let loose a fox to harass the countryside. The townspeople are unable to capture the fox so they ask Cephalus if he would help. Cephalus lets loose his dog after the fox and his dog takes off so fast that no one could follow him with their eyes. The people go to a hilltop to watch the hunt when all of a sudden both animals come to an immediate stop. The gods had turned both animals into stone because, being that both were gifts from the gods, they couldn’t have one beat the other.

So, life continued happily and the same as before even though Cephalus’s dog had been turned to stone. He still had his javelin and went hunting daily with it. One day after becoming tired from hunting, Cephalus takes a break by a stream. He takes off his clothes and was saying things to the breeze like “Please come and fan my chest, breeze. You know how I love you. You make my solitary hunting trips so pleasant”.

Well, as it turns out, someone was walking by and heard Cephalus talking to someone like that and rushes to tell Procris about her cheating husband. Procris first faints and then when she comes-to, doesn’t believe it. She says that she won’t believe it until she hears and sees it for herself.

So, the next day she sneaks out and follows Cephalus as he hunts. Then when he takes his usual break by the stream to cool off, he begins talking to the breeze the same way. Procris is hiding in the bushes and hears it all. She begins to cry softly and Cephalus hears the noise from the bushes. He thinks it’s a wild animal so he throws his javelin, the one Procris gave him, and it hits her. He hears his wife cry out and when he goes over he sees her bleeding and dying.

They both try to stop the bleeding but it doesn’t work. As Procris is dying she makes one last wish to her husband. She says “If you can do me one favor after I’m dead, please just don’t marry that horrible Breeze”. Cephalus understands the confusion but it’s no use to tell her. She dies, and somehow, he is able to relate the confusion to his wife and her face becomes calm in death.