Ovid Metamorphoses 7.672-862:
CEPHALUS AND PROCRIS
This narrative and many other tales
had occupied the day. As twilight fell,
festivities were blended in the night—
the night, in turn, afforded sweet repose.
Soon as the golden Sun had shown his light,
the east wind blowing still, the ships were stayed
from sailing home. The sons of Pallas came
to Cephalus, who was the elder called;
and Cephalus together with the sons
of Pallas, went to see the king. Deep sleep
still held the king; and Phocus who was son
of Aeacus, received them at the gate,
instead of Telamon and Peleus who
were marshalling the men for war. Into
the inner court and beautiful apartments
Phocus conducted the Athenians,
and they sat down together. Phocus then
observed that Cephalus held in his hand
a curious javelin with golden head,
and shaft of some rare wood. And as they talked,
he said; “It is my pleasure to explore
the forest in the chase of startled game,
and so I’ve learned the nature of rare woods,
but never have I seen the match of this
from which was fashioned this good javelin;
it lacks the yellow tint of forest ash,
it is not knotted like all corner-wood;
although I cannot name the kind of wood,
my eyes have never seen a javelin-shaft
so beautiful as this.”
To him replied
a friend of Cephalus; “But you will find
its beauty is not equal to its worth,
for whatsoever it is aimed against,
its flight is always certain to the mark,
nor is it subject to the shift of chance;
and after it has struck, although no hand
may cast it back, it certainly returns,
bloodstained with every victim.”
was Phocus anxious to be told, whence came
and who had given such a precious gift.
And Cephalus appeared to tell him all;
but craftily was silent on one strange
condition of the fatal gift. As he
recalled the mournful fate of his dear wife,
his eyes filled up with tears. “Ah, pity me,”
he said, “If Fate should grant me many years,
I must weep every time that I regard
this weapon which has been my cause of tears;
the unforgiven death of my dear wife—
ah, would that I had never handled it!
“My sweet wife, Procris!—if you could compare
her beauty with her sister’s—Orithyia’s,
(ravished by the blustering Boreas)
you would declare my wife more beautiful.
“’Tis she her sire Erectheus joined to me,
‘Tis she the god Love also joined to me.
They called me happy, and in truth I was,
and all pronounced us so until the Gods
decreed it otherwise. Two joyful months
of our united love were almost passed,
when, as the grey light of the dawn dispelled,
upon the summit of Hymettus green,
Aurora, glorious in her golden robes,
observed me busy with encircling nets,
trapping the antlered deer.
“Against my will
incited by desire, she carried me
away with her. Oh, let me not increase
her anger, for I tell you what is true,
I found no comfort in her lovely face!
And, though she is the very queen of light,
and reigns upon the edge of shadowy space
where she is nourished on rich nectar-wine,
adding delight to beauty, I could give
no heed to her entreaties, for the thought
of my beloved Procris intervened;
and only her sweet name was on my lips.
“I told Aurora of our wedding joys
and all refreshing joys of love — and my
first union of my couch deserted now:
“Enraged against me, then the goddess said:
‘Keep to your Procris, I but trouble you,
ungrateful clown! but, if you can be warned,
you will no longer wish for her!’ And so,
in anger, she returned me to my wife.
“Alas, as I retraced the weary way,
long-brooding over all Aurora said,
suspicion made me doubtful of my wife,
so faithful and so fair.—But many things
reminding me of steadfast virtue, I
suppressed all doubts; until the dreadful thought
of my long absence filled my jealous mind:
from which I argued to the criminal
advances of Aurora; for if she,
so lovely in appearance, did conceal
such passion in the garb of innocence
until the moment of temptation, how
could I be certain of the purity
of even the strongest when the best are frail?
“So brooding—every effort I devised
to cause my own undoing. By the means
of bribing presents, favored by disguise,
I sought to win her guarded chastity.
Aurora had disguised me, and her guile
determined me to work in subtle snares.
“Unknown to all my friends, I paced the streets
of sacred Athens till I reached my home.
I hoped to search out evidence of guilt:
but everything seemed waiting my return;
and all the household breathed an air of grief.
“With difficulty I, disguised, obtained
an entrance to her presence by the use
of artifices many: and when I
there saw her, silent in her grief,—amazed,
my heart no longer prompted me to test
such constant love. An infinite desire
took hold upon me. I could scarce restrain
an impulse to caress and kiss her. Pale
with grief that I was gone, her lovely face
in sorrow was more beautiful—the world
has not another so divinely fair.
“Ah, Phocus, it is wonderful to think
of beauty so surpassing fair it seems
more lovable in sorrow! Why relate
to you how often she repulsed my feigned
attempts upon her virtue? To each plea
she said: ‘I serve one man: no matter where
he may be I will keep my love for one.’
“Who but a man insane with jealousy,
would doubt the virtue of a loving wife,
when tempted by the most insidious wiles,
whose hallowed honor was her husband’s love?
But I, not satisfied with proof complete,
would not abandon my depraved desire
to poison the pure fountain I should guard;—
increasing my temptations, I caused her
to hesitate, and covet a rich gift.
“Then, angered at my own success I said,
discarding all disguise, ‘Behold the man
whose lavish promise has established proof,
the witness of your shameful treachery;
your absent husband has returned to this!’
“Unable to endure a ruined home,
where desecration held her sin to view,
despairing and in silent shame she fled;
and I, the author of that wickedness
ran after: but enraged at my deceit
and hating all mankind, she wandered far
in wildest mountains; hunting the wild game.
“I grieved at her desertion; and the fires
of my neglected love consumed my health;
with greater violence my love increased,
until unable to endure such pain,
I begged forgiveness and acknowledged fault:
nor hesitated to declare that I
might yield, the same way tempted, if such great
gifts had been offered to me. When I had made
abject confession and she had avenged
her outraged feelings, she came back to me
and we spent golden years in harmony.
“She gave to me the hound she fondly loved,
the very one Diana gave to her
when lovingly the goddess had declared,
‘This hound all others shall excel in speed.’
Nor was that gift the only one was given
by kind Diana when my wife was hers,
as you may guess—this javelin I hold forth,
no other but a goddess could bestow.
“Would you be told the story of both gifts
attend my words and you shall be amazed,
for never such another sad event
has added sorrow to the grieving world.
“After the son of Laius,—Oedipus,—
had solved the riddle of the monster-sphinx,
so often baffling to the wits of men,
and after she had fallen from her hill,
mangled, forgetful of her riddling craft;
not unrevenged the mighty Themis brooked
her loss. Without delay that goddess raised
another savage beast to ravage Thebes,
by which the farmer’s cattle were devoured,
the land was ruined and its people slain.
“Then all the valiant young men of the realm,
with whom I also went, enclosed the field
(where lurked the monster) in a mesh
of many tangled nets: but not a strand
could stay its onrush, and it leaped the crest
of every barrier where the toils were set.
“Already they had urged their eager dogs,
which swiftly as a bird it left behind,
eluding all the hunters as it fled.
“At last all begged me to let slip the leash
of straining Tempest; such I called the hound,
my dear wife’s present. As he tugged and pulled
upon the tightened cords, I let them slip:
no sooner done, then he was lost to sight;
although, wherever struck his rapid feet
the hot dust whirled. Not swifter flies the spear,
nor whizzing bullet from the twisted sling,
nor feathered arrow from the twanging bow!
“A high hill jutted from a rolling plain,
on which I mounted to enjoy the sight
of that unequalled chase. One moment caught,
the next as surely free, the wild beast seemed
now here now there, elusive in its flight;
swiftly sped onward, or with sudden turn
doubled in circles to deceive or gain.
With equal speed pursuing at each turn,
the rapid hound could neither gain nor lose.
Now springing forward and now doubling back,
his great speed foiled, he snapped at empty air.
“I then turned to my javelin’s aid; and while
I poised it in my right hand, turned away
my gaze a moment as I sought to twine
my practiced fingers in the guiding thongs;
but when again I lifted up my eyes,
to cast the javelin where the monster sped,
I saw two marble statues standing there,
transformed upon the plain. One statue seemed
to strain in attitude of rapid flight,
the other with wide-open jaws was changed,
just in the act of barking and pursuit.
Surely some God—if any god controls—
decreed both equal, neither could succeed.”
Now after these miraculous events,
it seemed he wished to stop, but Phocus said.
“What charge have you against the javelin?”
And Cephalus rejoined; “I must relate
my sorrows last; for I would tell you first
the story of my joys—’Tis sweet to think,
upon the gliding tide of those few years
of married life, when my dear wife and I
were happy in our love and confidence.
No woman could allure me then from her;
and even Venus could not tempt my love;
all my great passion for my dearest wife
was equalled by the passion she returned.
“As early as the sun, when golden rays
first glittered on the mountains, I would rise
in youthful ardor, to explore the fields
in search of game. With no companions, hounds,
nor steeds nor nets, this javelin was alone
my safety and companion in my sport.
“And often when my right hand felt its weight,
a-wearied of the slaughter it had caused,
I would come back to rest in the cool shade,
and breezes from cool vales—the breeze I wooed,
blowing so gently on me in the heat;
the breeze I waited for; she was my rest
from labor. I remember, ‘Aura come,’
I used to say, ‘Come soothe me, come into
my breast most welcome one, and yes indeed,
you do relieve the heat with which I burn.’
“And as I felt the sweet breeze of the morn,
as if in answer to my song, my fate impelled
me further to declare my joy in song;
“ ‘You are my comfort, you are my delight!
Refresh me, cherish me, breathe on my face!
I love you child of lonely haunts and trees!’
“Such words I once was singing, not aware
of some one spying on me from the trees,
who thought I sang to some beloved Nymph,
or goddess by the name of Aura—so
I always called the breeze.—Unhappy man!
The meddling tell-tale went to Procris with
a story of supposed unfaithfulness,
and slyly told in whispers all he heard.
True love is credulous; (and as I heard
the story) Procris in a swoon fell down.
When she awakened from her bitter swoon,
she ceased not wailing her unhappy fate,
and, wretched, moaned for an imagined woe.
“So she lamented what was never done!
Her woe incited by a whispered tale,
she feared the fiction of a harmless name!
But hope returning soothed her wretched state;
and now, no longer willing to believe
such wrong, unless her own eyes saw it, she
refused to think her husband sinned.
had banished night, and I, rejoicing, ranged
the breathing woods, victorious in the hunt
paused and said, ‘Come Aura—lovely breeze—
relieve my panting breast!’ It seemed I heard
the smothered moans of sorrow as I spoke:
but not conceiving harm, I said again;
“ ‘Come here, oh my delight!’ And as those words
fell from my lips, I thought I heard a soft
sound in the thicket, as of moving leaves;
and thinking surely ’twas a hidden beast,
I threw this winged javelin at the spot.—
“It was my own wife, Procris, and the shaft
was buried in her breast—‘Ah, wretched me!’
She cried; and when I heard her well-known voice,
distracted I ran towards her,—only to find
her bathed in blood, and dying from the wound
of that same javelin she had given to me:
and in her agony she drew it forth,—
ah me! alas! from her dear tender side.
“I lifted her limp body to my own,
in these blood-guilty arms, and wrapped the wound
with fragments of my tunic, that I tore
in haste to staunch her blood; and all the while
I moaned, ‘Oh, do not now forsake me—slain
by these accursed hands!’
“Weak with the loss
of blood, and dying, she compelled herself
to utter these few words, ‘It is my death;
but let my eyes not close upon this life
before I plead with you! — By the dear ties
of sacred marriage; by your god and mine;
and if my love for you can move your heart;
and even by the cause of my sad death,—
my love for you increasing as I die,—
ah, put away that Aura you have called,
that she may never separate your soul,—
your love from me.’
“So, by those dying words
I knew that she had heard me call the name
of Aura, when I wished the cooling breeze,
and thought I called a goddess,—cause of all
her jealous sorrow and my bitter woe
“Alas, too late, I told her the sad truth;
but she was sinking, and her little strength
swiftly was ebbing with her flowing blood.
As long as life remained her loving gaze
was fixed on mine; and her unhappy life
at last was breathed out on my grieving face.
It seemed to me a look of sweet content
was in her face, as if she feared not death.”
In tears he folds these things; and, as they wept
in came the aged monarch, Aeacus,
and with the monarch his two valiant sons,
and troops, new-levied, trained to glorious arms (original Latin).
Hyginus Fabulae 189
Procris was the daughter of Pandion. Cephalus, son of Deion, had her to wife, and since they were bound by mutual love, they promised each other never to be untrue. However, when Cephalus, who was fond of hunting, had gone to the mountain in the warly morning, Aurora, wife of Tithonus, fell passionately in love with him, and begged for his embrace. He refused, since he had given his promise to Procris. Then Aurora said: “I don’t want you to break faith, unless she has done so before you.” And so she changed his form into that of a stranger, and gave him beautiful gifts to give to Procris. When Cephalus had come in his changed form, he gave the gifts to Procris and lay with her. Then Aurora took away his new appearance. When Procris saw Cephalus, she knew she had been deceived by Aurora, and fled to the island of Crete, where Diana used to hunt. When Diana saw her, she said to her: “virgins hunt with me, but you are not a virgin, leave my company.” Procris revealed to her her misfortune and told her that she had been deceived by Aurora. Diana, moved by pity, gave her a javelin which no one could avoid, and the dog Laelaps which no wild beast could escape, and bade her go contend with Cephalus. With her hair cut, and in young man’s attire, by the will of Diana, she came to Cephalus and challenged him, and surpassed him in the hunt. When Cephalus saw that javelin and Dog were so irresistible, he asked the stranger to sell them to him, not knowing she was his wife. She refused. He promised her also a share in his kingdom; she still refused. “But if,” she said, “you really continue to want this, grant me what boys are won to grant.” Inflamed by desire for the javelin and the Dog, he promised he would. When they had come into the bed-chamber, Procris took off her tunic and showed that she was a woman and his wife. Cephalus took the gifts and came again into her favor. Neverthless out of fear of Auora she followed him to watch him in the early morning, and hid among the bushes. When Cephalus saw the bushes stir, he hurled the unavoidable javelin, and killed his wife, Procris. By her Cephalus had a son Arcesius, whose son was Laertes, Ulysses’ father (original Latin).
Apollodorus Library 3.15.10
Antoninus Liberalis 41
English translation available here.
Palaiphatos Katast 33
Pausanias Description of Greece 9.19.1
On this highway is a place called Teumessus, where it is said that Europa was hidden by Zeus. There is also another legend, which tells of a fox called the Teumessian fox, how owing to the wrath of Dionysus the beast was reared to destroy the Thebans, and how, when about to be caught by the hound given by Artemis to Procris the daughter of Erechtheus, the fox was turned into a stone, as was likewise this hound. In Teumessus there is also a sanctuary of Telchinian Athena, which contains no image. As to her surname, we may hazard the conjecture that a division of the Telchinians who once dwelt in Cyprus came to Boeotia and established a sanctuary of Telchinian Athena (original Greek).
Apollodorus Bibliotheca 2.4.6-7
When Electryon reigned over Mycenae, the sons of Pterelaus came with some Taphians and claimed the kingdom of Mestor, their maternal grandfather, and as Electryon paid no heed to the claim, they drove away his kine; and when the sons of Electryon stood on their defence, they challenged and slew each other. But of the sons of Electryon there survived Licymnius, who was still young; and of the sons of Pterelaus there survived Everes, who guarded the ships. Those of the Taphians who escaped sailed away, taking with them the cattle they had lifted, and entrusted them to Polyxenus, king of the Eleans; but Amphitryon ransomed them from Polyxenus and brought them to Mycenae. Wishing to avenge his sons’ death, Electryon purposed to make war on the Teleboans, but first he committed the kingdom to Amphitryon along with his daughter Alcmena, binding him by oath to keep her a virgin until his return. However, as he was receiving the cows back, one of them charged, and Amphitryon threw at her the club which he had in his hands. But the club rebounded from the cow’s horns and striking Electryon’s head killed him. Hence Sthenelus laid hold of this pretext to banish Amphitryon from the whole of Argos, while he himself seized the throne of Mycenae and Tiryns; and he entrusted Midea to Atreus and Thyestes, the sons of Pelops, whom he had sent for.
Amphitryon went with Alcmena and Licymnius to Thebes and was purified by Creon and gave his sister Perimede to Licymnius. And as Alcmena said she would marry him when he had avenged her brothers’ death, Amphitryon engaged to do so, and undertook an expedition against the Teleboans, and invited Creon to assist him. Creon said he would join in the expedition if Amphitryon would first rid the Cadmea of the vixen; for a brute of a vixen was ravaging the Cadmea. But though Amphitryon undertook the task, it was fated that nobody should catch her (original Greek).
As the country suffered thereby, the Thebans every month exposed a son of one of the citizens to the brute, which would have carried off many if that were not done. So Amphitryon betook him to Cephalus, son of Deioneus, at Athens, and persuaded him, in return for a share of the Teleboan spoils, to bring to the chase the dog which Procris had brought from Crete as a gift from Minos; for that dog was destined to catch whatever it pursued. So then, when the vixen was chased by the dog, Zeus turned both of them into stone. Supported by his allies, to wit, Cephalus from Thoricus in Attica, Panopeus from Phocis, Heleus, son of Perseus, from Helos in Argolis, and Creon from Thebes, Amphitryon ravaged the islands of the Taphians. Now, so long as Pterelaus lived, he could not take Taphos; but when Comaetho, daughter of Pterelaus, falling in love with Amphitryon, pulled out the golden hair from her father’s head, Pterelaus died, and Amphitryon subjugated all the islands. He slew Comaetho, and sailed with the booty to Thebes, and gave the islands to Heleus and Cephalus; and they founded cities named after themselves and dwelt in them (original Greek).
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