Europa and the bull

(Ovid, Metamorphoses II, 833 ff.)

The young Phoenician princess Europa is playing with her friends on the beach one day when Jupiter, king of the gods, finds himself struck by her beauty and falls instantly in love.

To avoid rousing suspicion in his jealous wife Juno, and to ensure the girl is not deterred by his divine manifestation, he takes the shape of a white bull. Europa and her friends adorn the bull with garlands and she climbs onto his back. But Jupiter rushes into the waves, abducting the girl, and swims to his birthplace of Crete.

Once there, he reveals his true form to her and they make love. Europa bears him three sons – Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. With Jupiter forced to return to Olympus, Europa marries King Asterion of Crete, who adopts her three sons and helps raise them.

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