The story

The story of Cephalus and Aurora is told in Ovid’s, “Metamorphoses” (7: 701-14). Cephalus, an Athenian hero, fell in love with and married Procris. Shortly afterwards while a deer hunting on nearby mountains, he caught the attention of the Goddess of Dawn, Eos or Aurora. Aurora had a roving eye and was frequently attracted to young mortal men. Descending from Mount Olympus carried him off to live with her. However, on finding that he remained faithful to Procris, she allowed him to return home, secretly swearing vengeance. She caused a spirit of jealousy, and this eventually resulted in the accidental fatal wounding of Procris by Cephalus΄hunting spear. A 15th-century Italian play substituted a happier ending in which goddess Artemis (Diana) resurrects Procris and reunites her with Cephalus.

Aurora and Cephalus is a 1733 painting by François Boucher, in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy. Also, another portrait of Aurora and Cephalus c.1810 by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson (French, 1767-1824) is in The Cleveland Museum of Art. At the National Gallery London, one may admire the painting by Nicolas Poussin, c. 1630 where he shows the cause of Cephalus’ rejection of Aurora.