Greek Mythology >> Greek Gods >> Rustic Gods >> River Gods >> Cephisus (Kephisos)


Greek Name

Κηφισος Κηφισσος


Kêphisos, Kêphissos

Latin Spelling

Cephisus, Cephissus


River Cephisus

KEPHISOS (Cephisus) was a River-God of Phokis (Phocis) and northern Boiotia (Boeotia) in central Greece.

The Kephisos River had its headwaters on the northern slopes of Mount Parnassos (Parnassus) and the southern foothills of the Mount Othrys. It flowed east through Phokis and Boiotia before emptying into Lake Kopais (Copais) near the town of Orkhomenos (Orchomenus). The most important neighbouring rivers of Boiotian Kephisos were the Sperkheios (Spercheus) of Malis to the north, the Pleistos of Phokis to the south, and the Ismenos of central Boiotia to the south-east.

It is possible that this River-God also presided over the two Kephisos streams of Attika. The river may have been thought to travel underground from Lake Kopais, rising again in the mountains of Kithairon (Cithaeron) and Parnes to form the two Athenian rivers of the same name. A fourth river named Kephisos, located in Argos, vanished into a cleft in the earth. It may have been imagined as the source of the Phokian river--reemerging in Phokis after travelling north through subterranean channels.



[1.1] OKEANOS & TETHYS (Hyginus Preface)


[1.1] ETEOKLOS (Hesiod Catalogues Frag 26, Pausanias 9.34.9)
[2.1] THE KEPHISIDES (Corinna Frag 655)
[3.1] LILAIA, DAULIS, MELAINE (Pausanias 10.32.4, 10.4.7, 10.6.4)
[4.1] KASTALIA (Alcaeus Frag, Pausanias 10.8.9)
[5.1] THYIA (Herodotus 7.178)
[6.1] NARKISSOS (by Liriope) (Ovid Metamorphoses 3.342)
[6.2] NARKISSOS (Hyginus Fabulae 271, Statius Thebaid 7.340)


CEPHISSUS (Kêphissos), the divinity of the river Cephissus, is described as a son of Pontus and Thalassa, and the father of Diogeneia and Narcissus, who is therefore called (Cephisius. (Hygin. Fab. Praef.; Apollod. iii. 5. § 1; Ov. Met. iii. 343, &c.) He had an altar in common with Pan, the Nymphs, and Achelous, in the temple of Amphiaraus near Oropus. (Paus. i. 34. 2.)

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.


Homer, Iliad 2. 523 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Kephisos (Cephisus), the river immortal . . . and Lilaia (Lilaea) beside the well springs of Kephisos."

Hesiod, Catalogues of Women Fragment 26 (from Argument: Pindar, Ol. xiv) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Kephisos (Cephisus) is a river in Orkhomenos (Orchomenus) where also the Kharites (Charites, Graces) are worshipped. Eteoklos (Eteoclus) the son of the river Kephisos first sacrificed to them, as Hesiod says : ‘which from Lilaia spouts forth its sweet-flowing water . . . And which flows on by Panopeus and through fenced Glekhon (Glechon) and through Orkhomenos, winding like a snake.’"

Homeric Hymn 3 to Pythian Apollo 239 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"Kephisos' (Cephisus') sweet stream which pours forth its sweet-flowing water from Lilaia (Lilaea)."

Pindar, Pythian Ode 12. 26 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"The Kharites’ (Charites') city [Orkhomenos (Orchomenus)], home of lovely dances, where the Nymphe, daughter of Kephissos (Cephissus), has her precinct [i.e. the Naiad-nymphe of the town's fountain]."

Alcaeus, Fragment 307 (from Himerius, Orations) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (C7th to 6th B.C.) :
"Kastalia (Castalia) flows in poetic fashion with waters of silver, and Kephisos (Cephisus) rises in flood surging with waves, in imitation of Homer's Enipeus : for Alkaios (Alcaeus) is compelled just like Homer to give even water the power to sense the presence of gods."

Corinna, Fragment 655 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C5th B.C.) :
"Women of Tanagra . . . often I adorned [with songs] our ancestor Kephisos (Cephisus) with my words, often great Orion and the fifty sons of high strength whom he fathered by intercourse with the fair Nymphai (Nymphs) [i.e. the daughters of Kephisos]."

Herodotus, Histories 7. 178. 1 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"The precinct of Thyia [near Delphoi] the daughter of Kephisos (Cephisus)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 34. 9 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Eteokles (Eteocles) [king of Orkhomenos (Orchomenus)] was the son of the river Kephisos (Cephisus), wherefore some poets in their verses called him Kephisiades (Son of Kephisos)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 4. 7 :
"They say that the name of the city [Daulis in Phokis] is derived from Daulis, a Nymphe, the daughter of Kephisos (Cephisus)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 6. 4 :
"Others say that his [Delphos eponymous king of Delphoi's] mother was Melaina (Melaena), daughter of Kephisos (Cephisus)."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 8. 9 :
"I have heard another account, that the water [of the fountain Kastalia (Castalia) at Delphoi] was a gift to Kastalia from the river Kephisos (Cephisus). So Alkaios (Alcaeus) has it in his prelude to Apollon."

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10. 32. 4 :
"They say that Lilaia (Lilaea) was one of the Naiades, as they are called, a daughter of the Kephisos (Cephisus), and that after this Nymphe the city [Liliai in Phokis] was named."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Oceanus and Tethys [were born] the Oceanides . . . Of the same descent Rivers : Strymon, Nile, Euphrates, Tanais, Indus, Cephisus, Ismenus, Axenus, Achelous, Simoeis, Inachus, Alpheus, Thermodon, Scamandrus, Tigris, Maeandrus, Orontes."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 271 :
"Youths who were most handsome . . . Narcissus, son of the River Cephisus, who loved himself."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 3. 342 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Wave-blue water-nymph Liriope, whom once Cephisus in his sinuous flow embracing held and ravished. In due time the lovely sprite bore a fine infant boy, from birth adorable, and named her son Narcissus."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 7. 388 ff :
"Cephisus weeping for his grandson [i.e. Phokos (Phocus)] made a bloated seal."

Statius, Thebaid 7. 340 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Thou too, Cephisus, would have sent Narcissus [to the war of the Seven Against Thebes], pre-eminent in beauty, but already, stuffborn-hearted boy, he is a place flower in a Thespian field : thou, O father, dost lave it with thy childless waves."





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