Europa and the Bull, another one of Zeus’ love story

“Zeus saw her, fell in love with her, and seduced her” is a pretty standard summary of many stories of Greek mythology and without Zeus love stories, ancient artists would have had a hard time finding inspiration…

Greek Mythology with and without Zeus' love stories...

Some of Zeus’ lovers, willing or unwilling, included Antiope, Callisto, Danae, Europa, Electra, Ganymede, Leda, Leto, Taygete, Niobe, Io, Semele, Themis, Mnemosyne, Demeter and Alcmene. Some of them bore him children and his liaisons with many mortals resulted in offspring who are described as semigods.

Today I’d like to share with you how ancient artists represented what we usually call “The Rapt of Europa”.


The veil arranged in a bow over the head of Europa seems to be a recurring element of her specific iconography.  The bull and her are sometimes in company of winged erotes as in the mosaics from Lullingstone, UK or the redfigure vase from Paestum, But most of the time, they are represented just by themselves.

In a next article I will speak to you about the cryptographic inscription at the top of the Lullingtone’s mosaic, and how I reproduced its design which I intend to use in my post-covid mosaics…

In the meantime, stay clear of friendly white bulls…


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abduction, bull, crete, europa, fresco, gods, Greece, greek mythology, hesiod,, mythology, paestum, phoenicia, rape, rapt, tarquinia, theogony, vase, zeus
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