Cephalus and Procris
and his men woke before Aeacus, and so the king's youngest son, Phocus, talked with them. The boy noticed Cephalus' javelin
and asked him where he'd gotten it. Although it was a sore subject with Cephalus, he told the boy the story behind the javelin.
The “…javelin was made from some unknown wood and tipped with gold”
Cephalus married Procris, but two months after they were married, Dawn kidnapped him from the woods where he was hunting. Cephalus pined away for his wife,
and so Dawn let him go, but warned him that he'd be sorry.
From her warning, Cephalus believed that Procris had been unfaithful to him while he was gone or that
she would be in the future. He decided to disguise himself and test her faithfulness, and Dawn changed his features so that
Procris wouldn't recognize her husband.
Although Cephalus found Procris pining away, he kept his disguise and tempted her. She didn't give in,
but he kept trying to find her. Finally she faltered in her fidelity, and he revealed himself. She fled their home in anger
and joined Diana's cult in the woods as a huntress. Cephalus finally apologized to her and she came back
to him giving him the javelin that Diana had given her and a hunting hound.
The hound was so great that he almost caught the great fox that plagued Thebes
. Just before the hound's teeth caught the fox, Jove changed both the fox and the dog to marble out of some sense
of justice that determined that two creatures so equally great should not destroy each other.
So Cephalus and Procris were happy together. Each day he would go hunting in the woods, and when his hunting
was done, he'd lie down in a clearing and let the breeze soothe him. Someone overheard him calling out to zephyr, the breeze,
and thought that he was having an affair with a nymph named zephyr.
The eavesdropper told Procris about zephyr, and she had to see for herself that her husband was cheating
on her, so she followed him to the woods the next morning. When he called out to zephyr, she was in the woods nearby, and
her movement made a noise.
Cephalus thought she was a dangerous animal and threw his javelin into the brush. He heard Procris cry
out and found that he'd stabbed his wife in the heart with the javelin she'd given him. She asked him not to marry zephyr
and he realized the misunderstanding. Although he explained the mistake and tried to bandage her wound, she died.
Book VIII (the five main stories)
Scylla and Minos
“Minos was plundering the shores of Megara , and trying
out his military strength”
During that time, Scylla, King Nixus’ daughter, fell in love with Minos. She gave into her love
and killed her father to help Minos. This story is similar to Jason and Medea and Ariadne and Theseus as they both betray
She took his purple lock of hair, the source of his powers, to Minos and presented
herself as his bride and her country that he'd been fighting to conquer as her dowry. Minos was horrified by her treachery
and told her that she was “…a disgrace to our times”
He took his fleet and left. Scylla realized that she would be shunned from her own country and all others
for her betrayal, and so she swam after Minos' ships. She was clinging to the bow of one ship when her father, who had been
transformed to an osprey, attacked her and made her fall from the ship. She, too, was transformed into a
Deadalus and Icarus
“Deadalus, an architect famous for his skill” who constructed a labyrinth where the Minotaur
cold be held captive, was sent into exile with his son
He decided to build wings for him and Icarus to escape by air as although “Minos may possess all
the rest…he does not possess the air.”
He laid down all the feathers “…beginning with tiny ones, and gradually increasing their length…Then
he fastened the feathers together in the middle with thread and at the bottom with wax”
The only people that saw them were fishers, Shepard or a peasant that were amazed thinking that these
creatures who could fly through the air must be gods.
Deadalus warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun as the wax may melt. However, Icarus was so overjoyed
at being free and being able to fly, “…he left his guide and soared upwards…” but he flew too close
to the son causing the wax to melt and he fell into the sea which now bears his name as a remembrance.
Meleager and the Calydonian Boar-Hunt
Theseus had killed the Minotaur and for his bravery, Meleager, the Prince, asked him to help him get rid
of the boar that was terrorising Calydon ,
Diana had sent the great boar as a plague to the city, and it was destroying the crops. So Meleager called
together a great assembly of heroes, among them a woman named Atalanta. Meleager was impressed by her looks, but he focused on the task at hand.
The boar had “…a fiery gleam in its bloodshot eyes… bellowed loud harshly…and
its teeth were like elephants’ tusks: fires issued from its jaws.”
Many of the great warriors fell to the boar. For supposedly skilled hunters some of the party are a bit
farcical; the Great hero Nestor is forced to vault up into a tree.
Atalanta gave the boar his first wound. Meleager, after many tries, finished the animal off. He shared
the spoils of the defeat with Atalanta, and two brothers jealously took away the prize he'd given Atalanta. Meleager's wrath
overcame him and he killed them both.
Meleager, for once is a true gentleman and Atalanta, a noble Amazon Queen.
Philemon and Baucis
One day, Jupiter and Mercury visited a place disguised as mortals. The two gods went to thousands of homes
looking for somewhere to rest, but no one would have them.
One couple let them in “…Baucis by name, and her husband Philemon…” let them in.
The house was of a “…humble dwelling roof with thatch and reeds from the marsh.
They were a poor old couple, but offered the strangers the best of all they had, not knowing that they
were serving as gods.
They kindled the fire, cooked some vegetables which they picked from their garden, “…a small
piece of long cherished meat”
There was “…wild cherries…preserved in lees of wine, endives…radishes…a
piece of cheese, and eggs lightly roasted…all set out in clay dishes...” this was followed by dessert which consisted
of “…nuts, a mixture of figs and wrinkled dates, plums and fragrant apples…and black grapes”
As the dinner went on, the old man and women realised that the wine was refilling itself and they became
afraid. They were ready to kill their goose “…which acted as a guardian of their little croft…” when
they announced “We are gods”.
The gods told them that this neighbourhood was a wicked one and they would destroy it except for their
two hosts who would follow them up the mountain side.
Everything was destroyed “only their own home left standing…and their old cottage…was
changed into a temple”
The gods offered to give the couple anything they wanted, and the two asked to be temple guards and to
die at the same time. When their time came, the two became two trees that shared a trunk
“Whom the gods love are gods themselves, and those who have worshipped, should be worshipped too”
(These are the last words of the man who told the story)
Erysichthon and his daughter
After hearing the first story, the guests were eager to here more.
Erysichthon despised the gods and one day, he destroyed the sacred tree of Ceres.
It was a “…huge oak, which had grown sturdy and strong...” and often had the Dryads
danced round it hand in hand who lived there.
But for all that, Erysichthon saw no reason why he should spare it and he ordered his servants to cut
it down. When he saw them hesitate he snatched an axe from one.
As he was about to strike, the tree started to tremble and groan. “The leaves and acorns began to
turn white and long branches lost their colour.” When he struck the tree, it began to bleed
All the bystanders were horror-struck, and one of them ventured to remonstrate and hold back the fatal
axe. Erysichthon turned against him the weapon which he had held aside from the tree, gashed his body with many wounds, and
cut off his head.
A nymph from inside the tree warned him that he would be punished. But he ignored them and the tree fell.
The dryads were deeply distraught at the loss of their home, and urged Ceres to punish him and decided
“…to torment him with deadly Hunger”
An oread, a mountain spirit, was ordered by Ceres to get Hunger and tell her to live inside the stomach
of Erysichthon and let no amount of food defeat her.
“The creatures face was colourless, hollow-eyed, her hair uncared for, her lips bleached and cracked…her
skin was hard and transparent revealing her inner organs. The brittle bones hung out beneath her hollow loins…”
and her bones were all out of proportion.
Hunger obeyed the goddesses orders, she found Erysichthon fast asleep. She breathed into his lips, throat
and heart and spreading huger throughout his veins and body
Even in his sleep, he dreamt of food and his jaw was moving as if he was eating. When he woke, he was
“…furiously hungry” and he ordered as much food as was possible. Food for an entire nation would not have
filled his hunger. The more he ate, the hungrier he became.
Once he had eaten all his wealth, all that was left was his daughter. So he sold her but she was a spirited
child and prayed to Neptune to save her.
He listened to her prayers and turned her into a fisherman and escaped her master.
She returned back to her original form and when her father realised that she could perform such transformations,
he repeatedly sold her and she repeatedly escaped.· Soon “…in his violence of malady…the wretch began to bite and gnaw at his own limbs, and fed his
body by eating it away.”