Study Guide

Cephalus and Procris The Hero's Journey

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The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a framework that scholar Joseph Campbell came up with that many myths and stories follow. Many storytellers and story-readers find it a useful way to look at tale. (That's actually putting it lightly. Some people are straight-up obsessed.) Chris Vogler adapted Campbell's 17 stages of a hero's journey, which many screenwriters use while making movies. Vogler condensed Campbell's 17 stages down to 12, which is what we're using. Check out a general explanation of the 12 stages.

The story of Cephalus and Procris doesn't fit perfectly into the Hero's Journey structure, but we're giving it a shot. As the gross old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Ordinary World

Cephalus is a hunky hunter with a wife named Procris, whom he's totally into. Sounds pretty ordinary to us.

Call To Adventure

Eos, goddess of dawn, swoops down from the sky and tries to seduce Cephalus. More like call to booty, but it still fits.

Refusal Of The Call

Cephalus resists the lusty goddess, telling her that he's too in love with his wife to even think about flying away with her. That's a stand-up refusal if we ever heard one.

Meeting The Mentor

The only real mentor-figure here is Eos, whose goal is to encourage Cephalus to join her in her bed. Not sure that's the normal kind of mentor, but we figured we'd mention it.

Crossing The Threshold

Cephalus is shoved across the threshold unwillingly, when Eos grabs him and flies away. He's going with the winged goddess whether he likes it or not.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Eos may be friendly—like really friendly—with Cephalus, but she definitely turns out to be more of an enemy than an ally. Even when she eventually allows Cephalus to return to his wife, she plants seeds of doubt in him, saying that Procris has been unfaithful while he was away. When Cephalus decides to disguise himself as a stranger and try to seduce Procris, it's the ultimate test of whether his wife is a friend or a no-good traitor.

Approach To The Inmost Cave

As Cephalus approaches his house in disguise, he's super nervous and hoping that his wife stays true.


After a lot of convincing and a bunch of gifts, Procris kind-of-sort-of gives an indication that she might be into the mysterious stranger. They both go through a pretty rough ordeal when Cephalus reveals himself, and Procris runs off in shame to hang out with Artemis in the woods.


Procris eventually returns and gets back in her husband's good graces by giving him a hunting dog that always catches its prey and a spear that never misses its target. Nice prizes, don't you think?

The Road Back

This doesn't really apply here, unless you count Procris's journey home. Then it's just a little out of order.


In a lot of stories, this is the place where the hero faces his worst obstacle, almost dies, and emerges triumphantly. Unfortunately, it doesn't go that way for Cephalus when he accidentally spears the suspicious Procris while she's spying on him from behind a bush.

Return With The Elixir

Nope, there's no elixir here—only tears.

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