Europa is a figure from Greek mythology. She is the daughter of Phoenician king Agenor and of Telephassa. Zeus falls in love with her. Because of his wife Hera, he has to take the shape of a bull. Hermes makes the herd of cattle with the bull Zeus graze near the beach near Sidon, where Europa is playing. That way, Zeus is able to abduct Europa on his back. He swims to Matala on Crete where he shows himself. The children of Europa and Zeus are Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. Because of a prophecy of Aphrodite, the new continent Europe is named after Europa.
The oldest known paintings which clearly show Europa date from the 7th century BC.
- Metamorphoses, ii, 833-875
- Bibliotca of Appolodorus, codex 186, p142a-b