Procne's beautiful sister Philomela visited the couple and was raped by Tereus, who tore out her tongue to prevent her revealing the crime. She wove a tapestry which made it clear what had been done, and the two women took their revenge.
Procne killed Itys, boiled him and served him as a meal to her husband. After he had finished his meal, the sisters presented Tereus with the severed head of his son, and he realised what had been done. He snatched up an axe and pursued them with the intent to kill the sisters. They fled but were almost overtaken by Tereus. In desperation, they prayed to the gods to be turned into birds and escape Tereus' rage and vengeance. The gods transformed Procne into a swallow, Philomela into a nightingale and Tereus into a hoopoe. The swallow genera Progne, Ptyonoprogne and Psalidoprocne and the treeswift family Hemiprocnidae derive their names from the myth.
- Apollodorus, The Library with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
- Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses translated by Brookes More (1859-1942). Boston, Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses. Hugo Magnus. Gotha (Germany). Friedr. Andr. Perthes. 1892. Latin text available at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Stephanus of Byzantium, Stephani Byzantii Ethnicorum quae supersunt, edited by August Meineike (1790-1870), published 1849. A few entries from this important ancient handbook of place names have been translated by Brady Kiesling. Online version at the Topos Text Project.
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- Schmitz, Leonhard (1870). . In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.