Europa and the Bull

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Zeus changed himself into a beautiful white bull, told Europa to hop on. Zeus gave Europa 3 gifts:

Zeus also gave Europa a island, Crete.

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.

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

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.
Europa on the Bull by Asteas 3wqws
“Europa on the bull” by Assteas (370-360 BC)
Talos Didrachm Phaistos obverse CdM
Winged Talos (ΤΑΛΩΝ) armed with a stone. Silver didrachma from Phaistos, Crete (ca. 300/280-270 BC), obverse. (Cabinet des Médailles, Paris)

Talos a giant automaton made of bronze to protect Europa in Crete from pirates and invaders. He circled the island's shores three times daily.

Europa and the Bull, Fresco
Pompeii, Europa and the Bull, fresco in Pompeii, 1st century AD.
Terracotta Europa bull Staatliche Antikensammlungen
Terracotta figurine from Athens, ~460 BC – 480 BC. image source
commemorative coin Italy 2005
Italian commemorative coin, 2005
Greek commemorative coin
Greek commemorative coin.
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


Medeia and Talus 8pvzp
Medeia and Talus, 1920, by Sybil Tawse

Talos is described by Greeks in two versions. In one version, Talos is a gift from Hephaestus to Minos, forged with the aid of the Cyclopes in the form of a bull.[8] In the other version, Talos is a gift from Zeus to Europa.[9] Or he may have been the son of Kres, the personification of Crete;[10] in Argonautica Talos threw rocks at any approaching ship to protect his island.[11] In the Byzantine encyclopedia called the Suda, it is said that when the Sardinians did not wish to release Talos to Minos, he heated himself – by jumping into a fire – and clasped them in his embrace.[12]

Talos had one vein, which went from his neck to his ankle, bound shut by only one bronze nail. The Argo, transporting Jason and the Argonauts, approached Crete after obtaining the Golden Fleece. As guardian of the island, Talos kept the Argo at bay by hurling great boulders at it. According to pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheke, Talos was slain when Medea the sorceress either drove him mad with drugs, or deceived him into believing that she would make him immortal by removing the nail. In Argonautica, Medea hypnotized him from the Argo, driving him mad with the keres she raised, so that he dislodged the nail, and “the ichor ran out of him like molten lead”, exsanguinating and killing him. Peter Green, translator of Argonautica, notes that the story is somewhat reminiscent of the story regarding the heel of Achilles.[13]



Laelaps /ˈli ˌlæps/[1] (Greek: Λαῖλαψ, gen.: Λαίλαπος means “hurricane”) (Lelaps, Lalaps, Lailaps) was a Greek mythological dog who never failed to catch what she was hunting. In one version of Laelaps' origin, she was a gift from Zeus to Europa. The hound was passed down to King Minos. Procris's husband, Cephalus, decided to use the hound to hunt the Teumessian fox, a fox that could never be caught. This was a paradox: a dog who always caught his prey versus a fox that could never be caught. The chase went on until Zeus, perplexed by their contradictory fates, turned both to stone and cast them into the stars as the constellations Canis Major (Laelaps) and Canis Minor (the Teumessian fox).[2][3]

Laelaps (mythology)


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