"The Abduction of Europa"by Francois Boucher (1703-1770).
The princess Europa is seated on the back of a beautiful white bull with her playmates nearby, tending to her and handing her garlands of flowers.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of the Reunion des Musees Nationaux, France.
Europa was a beautiful princess. According to Greek mythology, Europa was seduced by Zeus
, the king of the gods. Zeus fell in love with Europa after seeing her gathering flowers by the sea.
Zeus changed into a white bull and appeared
in the sea shore where Europa was playing. The appearance and movements
of the bull were so gentle that Europa spread flowers about his neck and dared to climb upon his back.
But suddenly, the bull rushed away over the sea with Europa. He took her to Crete. After seeing the bull was Zeus, Europa married him.
At last, Zeus reproduced the shape of the magic white bull in
the stars. Even today we can recognize its shape in the constellation Taurus.
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