Europa and The White Bull—Not Your Typical Love Story

Based on the ancient texts male deities have always found earth women irresistible.  Be it from whatever perch they sat watching the earth, women always captured their steady gaze.

The story of Zeus and Europa is not your typical love story.   As the story goes, Zeus, the ruler of the skies, was searching the earth from Mount Olympus and his eyes fell upon Europa, a Phoenician Princess, who was gathering flowers.

Zeus, the crafty being that he was, transformed himself into a beautiful white bull as pure as snow and manifested himself near Europa and her maidens.  One of her maidens pointed out the beautiful creature and Europa, being curious, wandered over to it.  To her amazement it was as tame as a morning dove.

Being the adventurous sort she mounted the bull.  Before she had time to react, the bull took off to the sea and jumped in.

Europa and the White Bull
Europa and the White Bull

The Roman poet Ovid in his masterpiece Metamorphoses states

The frighted nymph looks backward on the shoar,
And hears the tumbling billows round her roar;
But still she holds him fast: one hand is born
Upon his back; the other grasps a horn:
Her train of ruffling garments flies behind,
Swells in the air, and hovers in the wind.

Landing on the shore of Crete, the white bull reverberated back to its true form of Zeus. As the mighty Thunderer stood before her in all of his Olympian splendor, she succumbed to his advances.  Out of this union of deity and human three sons were born—Sarpedon, Minos and Rhadamanthus.

Europa became Queen of Crete.  Rhadamanthus succeeded her as King of Crete. Her son Minos usurped the kingdom.  Minos banished both Sarpedon and Rhadamanthus.   Sarpedon became King of Lycia.

Rhadamanthus traveled to Boeotia.  There he would continue to establish a strict justice system.  Inflexible was the trademark for his justice.

The story of Zeus and Europa is one of dominance and seduction, not romantic love. The concept of romantic love would have to wait for a few generations before it would flourish in the literary compositions or find a place in the hearts of men and women.

The poetry of love would be displayed in the lives of men and women with its moments of exhilaration, joy, sadness, sorrow and good-byes.  In our next post we will take a look at romantic love with its bittersweet memories of one who has said their good-byes to their beloved.

G. D. Williams       © 2013

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