Art: Europa and the Bull

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
Europa bull hg
«Europa carried away by a bull (bronze sculpture). Present given by American citizens to captain Johnssen after completing the maiden voyage of the express-steamer EUROPA in 1930. Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum, Bremerhaven, Germany» Photo by Hannes Grobe source.

Europa is a woman in Greek mythology. She is mostly known as the naming of Europe, and the rape by Zeus, knows as “Europa and the Bull”, where Zeus, the all-powerful pussy-loving male god, changed himself into a bull, and seduced and copulated with Europa.

Here's a few passage from Wikipedia:

According to legend, Zeus was enamored of her and decided to seduce or rape her, the two being near-equivalent in Greek myth. He transformed himself into a white bull and mixed in with her father's herds. While Europa and her female attendants were gathering flowers, she saw the bull and caressed his flanks and eventually got onto its back. Zeus took that chance and ran to the sea and swam, with her on his back, to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity, and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Zeus gave her three gifts: Talos, Laelaps and a javelin that never missed.

(Talos is a automaton that defends her island, and Laelaps is a dog that'll never fail to catch the prey.)

Here's a description of abduction of Europa in Metamorphoses (poem) by Ovid (43 BCE - 17 CE).

And gradually she lost her fear, and he
Offered his breast for her virgin caresses,
His horns for her to wind with chains of flowers
Until the princess dared to mount his back
Her pet bull's back, unwitting whom she rode.
Then — slowly, slowly down the broad, dry beach —
First in the shallow waves the great god set
His spurious hooves, then sauntered further out
'til in the open sea he bore his prize
Fear filled her heart as, gazing back, she saw
The fast receding sands. Her right hand grasped
A horn, the other lent upon his back
Her fluttering tunic floated in the breeze.

In western society, many artworks are drawn from Europa and the Bull. Here's a few sample.

Europa and the Bull, Fresco
Pompeii, Europa and the Bull, fresco in Pompeii, 1st century CE.
Terracotta Europa bull Staatliche Antikensammlungen
Terracotta figurine from Athens, ~460 BCE – 480 BCE. image source
Europa and the Bull on Euro coin Greek commemorative coin
Italian commemorative coin. Right: Greek commemorative coin, featuring Europa and her Bull.
Europa on the Bull, by Carl Milles, University of Tennessee. ©.
Europa and the Bull, Strasbourg
A sculpture at Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. (Photo by Elwood j blues, 2007-08) image source

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