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Europa (mythology)

The abduction of Europa, on the Greek €2 coin
In Greek mythology Europa was a beautiful Phoenician princess, daughter of Agenor and Telephassa. Zeus saw her gathering flowers and immediately fell in love with her. Zeus transformed himself into a white bull and carried Europa away to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity and Europa became the first queen of Crete. By Zeus, she mothered Trojan War contemporaries Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon, who were raised by her husband, Asterion. Zeus gave her three gifts: Talos, Laelaps and a javelin that never missed. Zeus later re-created the shape of the white bull in the stars which is now known as the constellation Taurus.

Europa later married Asterius, the King of Crete.

A different woman named Europa was the daughter of Tityus and mother of Euphemus by Poseidon.

Europa has lent her name to the continent of Europe, which is called Europa in all Germanic languages (except English), and in all Slavic languages which use the Latin alphabet, as well as in Greek and Latin. Thus, for instance, its appearance on postage stamps commemorating a "United Europe" first issued in 1956.

Apollodorus. Bibliotheke III, i, 1-2; Ovid. Metamorphoses II, 833-III, 2.