92. Cephalus accidentally kills Procris

Once upon a time, Cephalus, the Athenian hero, and his pretty wife Procris, the daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens, lived in happy marital bliss.

At dawn, Cephalus would rise and taking his wonderful javelin, proceed to the mountains, to hunt for wild game. After a fruitful chase, he would rest his tired limbs at a cool shady place, where a soothing breeze blew, and he sang to the breeze, naming it as Aura.

Unknown to him, someone saw him resting there and singing praises to Aura. Thinking that Aura was some nymph or goddess, the tell-tale, fabricated a story of unfaithfulness, and told it very slyly, in whispers and furtive glances, to Procris, who fainted upon hearing it. When Procris recovered from her swoon, she bewailed for an imagined sorrow. But before accepting that her beloved husband had sinned, Procris decided to visit that place and see Aura with her own eyes.

The next morning when Cephalus left, Procris followed him secretly. After completing his hunt, Cephalus rested and as usual, started singing to Aura. Procris, who was spying from behind a bush, heard the song and became sad. She looked around but finding no one, she strained to look further. Her movement rustled the leaves of the thicket and Cephalus, thinking it to be some wild beast, threw his javelin at the thicket. The unerring javelin pierced the breast of Procris.

Recognizing the cry of his wife, Cephalus rushed to the spot and found Procris drenched in blood, being wounded by the same Diana-gifted javelin that she had given him. Weeping uncontrollably, Cephalus tore his tunic and wrapped it around the wound. But the fatally wounded Procris, in her dying breath, and with eyes fixed on her beloved Cephalus, asked him to forget Aura, so that Aura may never separate him from her. Since then, whenever Cephalus held the javelin, tears always flooded his eyes.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani