Europa Myth - Ancient Greece
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Europa and the Bull

Europa map

Europa, according to Greek mythology, was a girl who lived a long time ago, the daughter of the king of the Phoenicians. Zeus fell in love with her, and in order to get close to her, he disguised himself as a white bull. He carried her away from Phoenicia, to Crete (where Zeus himself stayed as a baby, so you might say it was his home), and she became the mother of King Minos of Crete. From her name, she does seem to have something to do with Europe, but nobody knows exactly what.

Europa and the bull
Europa holding the horn of Zeus (disguised as a bull) -
Athenian vase found in northern Italy, 480 BC

You could also see the story of Europa and the bull as a poetical way of remembering that people originally came to Crete from West Asia, long ago in the Stone Age.

Learn by doing: visit a real bull (at the state fair?)
More about Zeus

Bibliography and further reading about Europa:

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, by Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire.

More about Zeus
Ancient Greece
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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