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The Many Loves of Zeus: Europa

Zeus fell for the daughter of the King Agenor of Sidon , Europa, who was pretty special in Greek mythology , she even had the continent of Europe named after her. In this article, you will learn how Zeus managed to seduce the young maiden and whether or not his affections were returned.

A dream that Europa had contributed to the birth of Europe. It is said that she dreamt of two continents that took on the form of two women arguing over her. Asia believed that since Europa had been born in Asia, that is where she belonged, while the other nameless landmass stated that her birthplace was not important and that Zeus would give her to it.

The next morning, Europa took off with friends to gather flowers by the sea. Zeus caught sight of the lovely group of ladies, but paid most attention to Europa, who was the best looking out of all the women. It is believed that Eros played a role in their union , hitting him with one of his seductive darts. Zeus transformed himself into an eye-catching white bull who had the scent of flowers and gift of music. The maidens were mesmerized by the bull and ran over to pet it.

The bull chose to lie in front of Europa and she chose to climb onto its back. Without a moment’s notice, the bull ran off and leaped into the sea. It started to quickly swim away from the shore. Looking behind her, Europa noticed a following that consisted of Triton blowing his horn and Nereids riding on the backs of dolphins. She concluded that the bull must have been a god. She begged for the god to take pity on her, but Zeus simply professed his love.

He took Europa to the place where he was raised , Create. He told her that she would give birth to sons who would become famous. Together, they produced Minos I and Rhadamanthus.

Minos I —
Minos would become the King of Create and best known for establishing a celebrated legal code. He enjoyed great victories and success as a lawgiver , so much so that after his passing, he was made into one of the three judges of the dead that presided over the Underworld. While he was ruler of Create, he was known as a major force to be reckoned with, but also created an impressive educational system. He also achieved successful trade endeavors, built notable buildings, and furthered the arts. Under his rule, he pushed for a strong navy.

Rhadamanthus —
Rhadamanthus earned the reputation as a wise and fair king after gaining ruling power from Asterion, who was the consort of Europa. He assumed the role of stepfather to both children that she had with Zeus. After his death, Rhadamanthus assumed the role as one of the three judges of the dead , alongside his brother.

Out of all the affairs that Zeus engaged in, Europa was the only woman that Hera overlooked when it came time to delivering punishment to mistresses.