Cephalus, Procris and Artemis (Diana) 1635/36, Claude Lorrain (1600-1682)

In Greek mythology, Cephalus ( Κέφαλος ) was the son of Hermes and Herse. When Hermes fell in love with Herse, a jealous Aglaulus, Herse's sister, stood between them and refused to move. Hermes changed her to stone.

Cephalus was married to Procris, a daughter of Erechtheus. The goddess of the dawn Eos (Aurora to the Romans) kidnapped Cephalus when he was hunting and tried to seduce him. Some sources say he refused to be unfaithful to Procris, others that he had a relationship with the goddess for some years and that she bore him three sons Phaethon, Tithonos and Hesperos, but that Cephalus then began pining for Procris, causing a disgruntled Eos to return him to her - and put a curse on them.

Procris had come into possession of a magical javelin, given by Artemis that never missed its prey, as well as a hunting hound who always caught its prey. The hound met its end chasing a fox which could not be caught, and they both turned into stone. But the javelin was used by Cephalus while hunting.

Cephalus sat by a tree one day, hot after hunting, and sang a little hymn to the wind (Aura). A passerby heard him and thought he was serenading a lover. Procris found out and the next day went out to find him. As he sat singing the same hymn, she thought he was singing to Aurora (Eos) and moved. Cephalus threw the javelin of Artemis into the brush, thinking the noise was an animal, and killed her. As she lay dying in her arms, she told him "On our wedding vows, please never marry Aurora". Cephalus went into exile.

Later, Cephalus helped Amphitryon in a war and was awarded the island Cephallenia.


Cephalus and Aurora, by Nicolas Poussin, (c. 1630), 96,5 × 130,5 cm , National Gallery , London

Aurora abducting Cephalus (c1636) by Peter P. Rubens (1577-1640)

Eos und Cephalus Altar, Gela 500-475 BC

Kephalos and Prokris , Benjamin Clemens 1910

Cephalus Grieving over the Dying Procris , Abraham Janssens ,


Cephalus and Aurora, George Benda (1722-1795)


Mythology Images

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