Europa, the Phoenician Princess
Phoenician Encyclopedia
The abduction of Europa by Zeus in the form of a bull.
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Europa, the Phoenician Princess
Overwhelmed Zeus with Love

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Europa was the beautiful daughter of the Phoenician king of Tyre, Agenor. Zeus, the King of the gods according to Greek mythology, saw Europa as she was gathering flowers by the sea and immediately fell in love with her.

Overwhelmed by love for Europa, Zeus transformed himself into the form of a magnificent white bull and appeared in the sea shore where Europa was playing with her maidens. The great bull walked gently over to where Europa stood and knelt at her feet. The appearance and movements of the bull were so gentle that Europa spread flowers about his neck and dared to climb upon his back overcoming her natural fear of the great animal.

But suddenly, the bull rushed over the sea abducting Europa. Only then the bull revealed its true identity and took Europa to the Mediterranean island of Crete. There, Zeus cast off the shape of the white bull, and back into his human form, made Europa his lover beneath a simple cypress tree. Europa became the first queen of Crete and had by Zeus three sons: King Minos of Crete, King Rhadamanthus of the Cyclades Islands, and, according to some legends, Prince Sarpedon of Lycia. She later married the king of Crete, who adopted her sons, and she was worshiped under the name of Hellotis in Crete, where the festival Hellotia was held in her honour. At last, Zeus reproduced the shape of the white bull, used by Zeus to seduce Europa, in the stars. Even today we can recognize its shape in the constellation Taurus.

The name Europa was given to one of Jupiter's 16 original moons. Europa is special, because it is one of the few moons in our solar system that may have liquid water.

Who was Europa?

Some say that the father of this Phoenician princess was Agenor, but others say that it was Phoenix, who some claim was her brother. Her mother is unknown.

Agenor was by birth an Egyptian, but he departed to Phoenicia and reigned there. According to some Agenor is the son of Poseidon & Libya, but others say that his parents were Belus & Anchinoe. King Belus of Egypt was son of Poseidon & Libya, and was also the father of Aegyptus and Danaus. His mother Libya was, in turn, daughter of Epaphus & Memphis, and King Epaphus of Egypt, from whom sprang the Libyans and the Ethiopians, was the founder of the city of Memphis in Egypt and the son of Zeus & Io, the girl who was once turned into a cow, but who is one of the Three Main Ancestors. If Phoenix would be considered to be the father of Europa, everything would amount to the same, because Phoenix, after whom Phoenicia is called, is said to be the son either of Agenor or of Belus, and we would, also in this way, arrive to Io. Nothing is known about Europa's presumptive mothers.

How Was She Abducted?

When Zeus turned himself into a Bull, mounted Europa on his back he conveyed her through the sea from Phoenicia to Crete. However, some say that the Bull who carried Europa was the same Cretan Bull that Heracles enjoined in one of his labours, which in turn could be the same Bull, that was sent by Poseidon to King Minos of Crete, and that later, consorting with the king's wife Pasiphae, became the progenitor of the Minotaur.

Europa's Brother Search for Her

When Europa disappeared on the back of the Bull, Agenor sent out his sons in search of her, ordering them not to return until they had found their sister.

Cilix, Europa's brother went out in his search and ended up in Cilicia in Asia Minor, a region called after him, where he became king after giving up the search.

Cadmus, another of Europa's brothers, went with his mother Telephassa to Thrace and stayed there for some time, before coming to Boeotia, where he founded the city of Cadmea, which was later called Thebes. For when Telephassa died Cadmus went to Delphi to inquire about Europa, and the Oracle told him not to worry about her sister, but instead, following a cow, found a city wherever the animal would lay down to rest. And the cow rested in the spot where today the city of Thebes is.

Another brother, Thasus, having sailed from Tyre in his search of Europa, gave up and settled in an island off Thrace and founded a city, Thasus, called after himself. Meanwhile, another brother, Phoenix set out for Africa, and remained there.

Europa's Family

After having children with Zeus, Europa married Asterius 3, son of Tectamus, son of Dorus, son of Hellen, son of Deucalion, the man who survived the Flood. Tectamus had sailed to Crete with Aeolians and Pelasgians, becoming on his arrival king of the island, and it is during the time when he was king of Crete that Zeus carried off Europa from Phoenicia. Tectamus' mother was daughter of Cretheus, son of Aeolus, brother of Dorus. Presents to Europa. Zeus gave Europa presents. One of them was a wonderful dog called Laelaps which was so swift that no beast could escape it. He also gave her Talos, a creature made of bronze, who was meant to be the warder of Crete.

Last Heard of Europa

When after some time Cadmus, now king of Cadmea (the future Thebes) married Harmonia, Europa gave her a Necklace which she had received it from Zeus. That was probably the last time someone heard of Europa, and her death was never reported.

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Additional references, sources and bibliography (Please don't write and ask me for references. You can find them at the end of article or in Bibliography)

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