Study Guide

Cephalus and Procris Cephalus

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On the one hand, Cephalus is kind of a stand-up guy. When he's stolen away by Eos, the gorgeous goddess of dawn, he stays true to his wife. In fact, he goes on about Procris so much that Eos gets fed up with him and sends him back to her.

Sure, in some versions, he does the dirty with Eos and they even have kids together, but most accounts claim he stays totally faithful to his wife despite Eos's persistent attempts at seduction. Put it all together, and what does Cephalus represent? We're thinking fidelity.

The trouble is that Cephalus is also a dude who himself is riddled with doubts about his wife's faithfulness. And instead of running home to explain why he's been gone so long, Cephalus decides to put her to the test. Not the healthiest relationship, in our opinion.

So are we supposed to be rooting for Cephalus? Or is he just a total sleaze ball? That's for you to decide, Shmoopers.

P.S. In some versions of the story, Cephalus actually takes his own life after Procris dies. This puts him in the company of Romeo, Pyramus, and Thisbe—lovers who offed themselves after their beloveds died. How does this possible ending change the way you understand Cephalus's character?

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