Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Cephalus Character Analysis

Cephalus is a messenger from Athens who travels to Aegina to ask for their support in Athens’s war against king Minos. Cephalus hears king Aeacus’s story of Aegina’s plague, and shows Aeacus’s sons the magic spear that his wife Procris gave him. Cephalus and Procris are in love with each other, but many things get in the way of their happy marriage. Nymphs and goddesses who are unsuccessful in wooing Cephalus fill his head with suspicions that Procris is cheating on him. To discover the truth, Cephalus decides to test Procris by disguising himself and wooing her. Procris at last gives in to his seductions, at which point Cephalus reveals himself and calls her a slut. Over time, Cephalus persuades Procris to forgive him for his trick, and they live happily together again. However, their loving marriage ends tragically when someone overhears Cephalus speaking lovingly to the wind and tells Procris that Cephalus is having an affair with a nymph. To find out the truth, Procris follows Cephalus into the woods and catches him whispering to the wind. Cephalus hears her movements and, thinking she is a predator, impales her with his magic spear and kills her.
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Cephalus Character Timeline in Metamorphoses

The timeline below shows where the character Cephalus appears in Metamorphoses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 7: Minos and Aeacus
Time, Fate, and Poetry  Theme Icon
...away, a ship from Athens enters Aegina’s port. King Aeacus’s three sons—Telamon, Peleus, and Phocus—greet Cephalus, an aged hero, as he deboards with his two companions, Clytus and Butes, and welcome... (full context)
Book 7: The Plague at Aegina
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Cephalus’s business in Aegina is to bring a message from Athens asking for King Aeacus’s help... (full context)
Book 7: Cephalus and Procris
Time, Fate, and Poetry  Theme Icon
After King Aeacus tells the stories of the plague and the Myrmidons, he and Cephalus sit down to a feast. The next morning, strong winds prevent Cephalus and his companions... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Cephalus tells Phocus the story of the spear. A while ago, Cephalus married Procris, the sister... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Sensing Cephalus’s plan, Aurora disguises Cephalus to look like a different man. When Cephalus enters his house,... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Procris resents Cephalus for his trick and joins Diana’s clan of chaste women. Cephalus is still in love... (full context)
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
Cephalus tells what happened to the hunting dog that Procris gave him: one day, a ferocious... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Cephalus then tells the story of the spear: Cephalus and Procris are deeply in love and... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
The next morning, when Cephalus finishes his hunt, he asks the wind to delight him as usual. Suddenly, he hears... (full context)
Book 8: Scylla and Minos
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
When Cephalus finishes his story, King Aeacus appears with the soldiers he’s gathered for Athens. A few... (full context)