Bk VII:661-758 The infidelities of Cephalus and Procris.
They filled a long day with this and other talk: the last of the light was given over to feasting, and night to sleep. The sun shone gold again, but an east wind was still blowing, and kept the sails from the homeward voyage. The sons of Pallas joined Cephalus, their senior, and Cephalus and the princes then went to the king: but the king was still in a deep sleep. Phocus, Aeacus's son, received them at the threshold, since Telamon and his brother were selecting men for the war. Phocus led the Athenians into an inner walk, beautiful and secluded, where they sat down together, and noticed that the grandson of Aeolus carried a spear in his hand, tipped with gold, and made of an unknown wood. In the midst of their first short conversation, he said, "I am knowledgeable about woodland, and hunting wild animals, but I have been wondering for a while what tree that shaft was cut from. If it were ash it would be deep yellow, and if it were cornelian cherry it would be knotted. What it is I am ignorant of, but my eyes have never seen one more beautifully formed for throwing." One of the Athenian brothers replied, "You will marvel at its usefulness more than at its looks. It hits whatever it is aimed at: there is no chance involved, and then it flies back, bloodied, without needing to be retrieved." Then truly the son of the Nereid wanted to know everything: why this was so, where it came from, and who gave such a wondrous gift. What he wanted to know, Cephalus told him, but was still ashamed to say what a high price it had cost him. He was silent, and touched with sadness for his lost wife, tears welling in his eyes, he uttered these words.
"Son of the goddess, this weapon makes me weep (who would believe that?) and it will for many years if the fates grant me them. This weapon did for my dear wife and me. I wish that I had always been without it! She was Procris, or if Orithyia's name has chanced to fill your ears more loudly, the sister of that Orithyia whom Boreas stole, though if you were to compare the two in looks and manner, Procris was more worth stealing! Her father Erechtheus brought us together in marriage, and love brought us together too. I was called happy, and I was. But the gods' vision of the future was otherwise, or perhaps things would still be so.
The second month after our marriage, I was setting out nets to trap antlered deer, when golden Aurora, chasing away the shadows, saw me from the summit of Mount Hymettus, that is always bright with flowers, and took me away against my will. By the grace of the goddess I can repeat the truth: though her face has the blush of roses, though she keeps the borderland of light and night, though she drinks the dewy nectar, I was in love with Procris. Procris was in my heart: Procris was always on my lips. I kept talking about the sacred marriage bed, and the newness of our union, the recent wedding, and the prior claim of our deserted couch. The goddess was angered and said, 'Stop complaining, ungrateful man: have your Procris! But if my vision is far-sighted, you will wish you had never had her.' In a fury, she sent me back to her.
As I was returning, reconsidering the goddess's words, I began to fear lest my wife had not been faithful to our marriage vows. Her youth and beauty prompted thoughts of adultery, but her character forbade those thoughts. But I had been away a while, and she from whom I was returning was herself an example of the fault, and lovers fear the worst. I decided to try what might grieve me, testing her chaste loyalty with gifts. Aurora supported my fears, and she changed my appearance (I felt it happening).
Unrecognisable, I went back to Athens, city of Pallas, and entered my house. The house itself was irreproachable, gave every sign of innocence, and was only anxious for its vanished master. With difficulty, by a thousand stratagems, I gained access to Erechtheus's daughter. When I saw her I was rooted to the spot, and almost relinquished my thoughts of testing her loyalty. Indeed I could hardly keep from confessing the truth, and hardly keep from kissing her, as I ought. She was sad (but no one could be more lovely than her in her sadness). She grieved with longing for the husband who had been snatched away. Phocus, she was Beauty, whom Grief itself so befits! Why should I tell how many times her chaste nature repelled my advances? All those many times she said, 'I hold myself, in trust, for one man only: wherever he is, I keep what I can give, in trust, for that one man.' For whom, in his senses, was that not a great enough trial of loyalty? But I was not satisfied, and struggled on, wounding myself, until by promising to give a fortune for just one night with her, and then increasing the offer, I forced her to hesitate. Wrongly victorious, I cried out, 'I am no adulterer, wicked one! I am your true husband! You have me for a witness, you traitress!'
She said not a word. Silent with overwhelming shame, she fled from the treacherous threshold, and her evil husband. Deeply hurt by me, and hating the whole race of men, she wandered the mountains, following the ways of Diana. Then, deserted, a more violent flame burned in my bones. I begged her forgiveness, and confessed I had sinned, and that I too might have succumbed to the same fault, given the offer, if such gifts were offered to me. When I had owned to this, and after she had first taken revenge for her wounded honour, she returned to me, and we lived out sweet years in harmony. Moreover, as though she in yielding herself gave only a small prize, she gave me a hound as a gift, that her own goddess Cynthia had entrusted to her, saying, 'he will surpass all other dogs for speed.' She gave me a spear, likewise, the one, you see, I have in my hands. Do you want to know the fate of the other gift? Listen to something marvellous: you will be stirred by the strangeness of the thing!"