A son of Deion, the ruler of Phocis, and Diomede, was married to Procris or Procne, by whom he become the father of Arcesius, the father of Laërtes. He is described as likewise beloved by Eos,1 but he and Procris were sincerely attached, and promised to remain faithful to each other. See also Cephalus, the son of Hermes.
Once when the handsome Cephalus was amusing himself with the chase, Eos approached him with loving entreaties, which, however, he rejected. The goddess then bade him not break his vow until Procris had broken hers, but advised him to try her fidelity. She then metamorphosed him into a stranger, and gave him rich presents with which he was to tempt Procris. Procris was induced by the brilliant presents to break the vow she had made to Cephalus, and when she recognized her husband, she fled to Crete and discovered herself to Artemis. The goddess made her a present of a dog and a spear, which were never to miss their object, and then sent her back to Cephalus.
Procris returned home in the disguise of a youth, and went out with Cephalus to chase. When he perceived the excellence of her dog and spear, he proposed to buy them of her; but she refused to part with them for any price except for love. When he accordingly promised to love her, she made herself known to him, and he became reconciled to her. As, however, she still feared the love of Eos, she always jealously watched him when he sent out hunting, but on one occasion he killed her by accident with the never-erring spear.2
Somewhat different versions of the same story are given by Apollodorus3 and Ovid.4 Subsequently Amphitryon of Thebes came to Cephalus, and persuaded him to give up his dog to hunt the fox which was ravaging the Cadmean territory. After doing this he went out with Amphitryon against the Teleboans, upon the conquest of whom he was rewarded by Amphitryon with the island which he called after his own name Cephallenia.5
Cephalus is also called the father of Iphiclus by Clymene.6 He is said to have put an end to his life by leaping into the sea from cape Leucas, on which he had built a temple of Apollo, in order to atone for having killed his wife Procris.7
A few Greek vases show Cephalus as hunter, others tell the story of Cephalus and Procris. An Etruscan mirrow depicts the abduction of the prince by Eos. The theme was used by painters such as Piero di Cosimi and Reni.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 9.4; Hyginus. Fabulae, 125; Scholiast on Callimachus. Hymn to Artemis, 209.
- Hyginus. Fabulae, 189.
- The Library iii, 15.1.
- Metamorphoses vii, 394 ff.; comp. Antoninus Liberalis, 41; Scholiast on Euripides' Orestes, 1643.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.7; Strabo. Geography x, p. 456; Eustathius on Homer, p. 307 ff.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 29.2.
- Strabo. Geography x, p. 452; comp. Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 37.4; Hyginus. Fabulae, 48.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.