"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 the beautiful daughter of the king of Tyre, Agenor. Zeus (Jupiter)
, the King of the gods according to Greek mythology, saw Europa as she was gathering flowers by the sea a nd immediately fell in love with her.
Zeus transformed himself into the form of a magnificent white bull and appeared in the sea shore where Europa was playing. 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. 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. 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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
Europa was first discovered by Galileo in 1610, making it one of the Galilean Satellites. It is Jupiter's 4th largest moon, 670,900 km from Jupiter. With a diameter that is about half the distance across...more
For the ancient Greeks, the Hyades were daughters of Pleione and Atlas, a giant who carried the heavens on his shoulders. The Hyades had several sisters, such as the Pleiades and the Hesperides. They were...more
Callisto was a river goddess, descended from the river god Inachus. Callisto was the favorite companion of Diana. She accompanied her on the hunt and attended her at her bath after the hunt. ...more
One day the god Jupiter saw the beautiful Callisto and fell in love with her. Knowing that Diana had warned Callisto about men and gods, Jupiter pretended he was the goddess Diana. In this disguise, Jupiter...more
Some time after Callisto had been forced out of the company of Diana, she gave birth to a boy child named Arcas. Jupiter's wife Juno was mad and changed Callisto into a bear. Callisto was afraid and she...more
Europa was the beautiful daughter of the king of Tyre, Agenor. Zeus (Jupiter), the King of the gods according to Greek mythology, saw Europa as she was gathering flowers by the sea a nd immediately fell...more
In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leto (Letona). He was the twin brother of the goddess Artemis. He was the god of the Sun, logic, and reason, and was also a fine musician and...more