Europa and the bull

Zeus and Europa

This time I will relate another of Zeus’s love affairs and some curious details related to that. Here we go:

Why is Europe called that?

Europa was a Phoenician princess, daughter of Agenor, King of Tire, and Queen Telefasa.

Her name meant something like “the one with the broad face” or “where the sun sets.” This last meaning was the one that gave the name to the continent, since in ancient times, people believed that Europe was the continent that was further west, where the sun sets.

This maiden was also a descendant of the mythical princess Io.

And it seems that she was pretty

One day, Europa was playing with her friends on the beach, when Zeus saw her and fell in love with her. The god tried to seduce her by adopting the form of a white bull with horns in the shape of a crescent moon (with this we can already imagine the girl’s sexual preferences).

The bull approached the beach and laid down close to the young woman. In another version, it joined other cattle that were grazing near the beach. She was scared at first. But then she started stroking the bull.

Zeus was excited, but held on, waiting for the right moment to act. Meanwhile, the girl’s friends were making jokes and challenging her to get on the back of the bull.

Shall I do it or shall I not?

The girl accepted the challenge and at that moment, Zeus started to run towards the sea. Europa screamed, in fear, but the bull was running so fast, that she had to cling to its horns. This excited Zeus even more.

Thus they traveled together over part of the known world and, little by little, Europa began to like that tourist’s life. Finally, they stopped on the island of Crete.

And we go directly to the honeymoon

Under some bananas that grew near a fountain, Zeus returned to his original form. Then, Zeus and Europa consummated their relationship.

Zeus also gave Europe four gifts: a necklace made by Hephaestus, a bronze robot named Talos, a dog named Lelape who never released its prey, and a javelin that always hit the target.

We put together DNA from dad, DNA from mom…

From that union, Minos, Sarpedon and Radamantis were born. But in order to avoid acknowledging his paternity, Zeus gave Europe in marriage to the king of Crete, Asterion, who adopted the children.

Minos, in turn, inherited the Cretan throne, but that’s a story for another time.

And what happened next?

When Europa died, Zeus, in gratitude and homage to her, placed her in the sky, in the form of a bull. This is how the constellation Taurus was formed.

In some versions, this white bull is the same one that fathered the Minotaur.

Is there any truth behind the myth?

According to the historian Herodotus, Europa was actually kidnapped by Cretan sailors, who sought, in turn, to avenge Io’s kidnapping. But this, it seems, would only be a rationalization of the myth.


  • Antes del Principio, by Ariel Pytrell
  • Wikipedia

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