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Book 7: Cephalus and Procris Notes from Metamorphoses

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Metamorphoses Book 7: Cephalus and Procris

The following morning, Cephalus and his men woke before Aeacus, and so the king's youngest son, Phocus, talked with them. The boy noticed Cephalus' javelin and asked him where he'd gotten it. Although it was a sore subject with Cephalus, he told the boy the story behind the javelin.

Cephalus married Procris, but two months after they were married, Dawn kidnapped him from the woods where he was hunting. Cephalus pined away for his wife, and so Dawn let him go, but warned him that he'd be sorry. From her warning, Cephalus believed that Procris had been unfaithful to him while he was gone or that she would be in the future. He decided to disguise himself and test her faithfulness, and Dawn changed his features so that Procris wouldn't recognize her husband. Although Cephalus found Procris pining away, he kept his disguise and tempted her. She didn't give in, but he kept trying to find her. Finally she faltered in her fidelity, and he revealed himself. She fled their home in anger and joined Diana's cult in the woods as a huntress. Cephalus finally apologized to her and she came back to him giving him the javelin that Diana had given her and a hunting hound.

The hound was so great that he almost caught the great fox that plagued Thebes. Just before the hound's teeth caught the fox, Jove changed both the fox and the dog to marble out of some sense of justice that determined that two creatures so equally great should not destroy each other.

So Cephalus and Procris were happy together. Each day he would go hunting in the woods, and when his hunting was done, he'd lie down in a clearing and let the breeze soothe him. Someone overheard him calling out to zephyr, the breeze, and thought that he was having an affair with a nymph named zephyr. The eavesdropper told Procris about zephyr, and she had to see for herself that her husband was cheating on her, so she followed him to the woods the next morning. When he called out to zephyr, she was in the woods nearby, and her movement made a noise. Cephalus thought she was a dangerous animal and threw his javelin into the brush. He heard Procris cry out and found that he'd stabbed his wife in the heart with the javelin she'd given him. She asked him not to marry zephyr and he realized the misunderstanding. Although he explained the mistake and tried to bandage her wound, she died.

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