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0816: The abduction of Europa. Painting by Antonio Carracci, 1583-1618. Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna.

"Ye coasts, pray tell my loving father that Europa has left her native land, seated upon a bull, my ravisher, my sailor, and as I think, my bed-fellow." (Europa. Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1.130).

Europa was carried off from Phoenicia to Crete, and was never found by the Phoenician relatives who sought her.

Europa's family

Some say that the father of this Phoenician princess was Agenor 1, but others say that it was Phoenix 1, who some claim was her brother. Agenor 1 was by birth an Egyptian, but he departed to Phoenicia and reigned there. According to some Agenor 1 is the son of Poseidon and Libya, but others affirm that his parents were Belus 1 and Anchinoe.

King Belus 1 of Egypt was son of Poseidon and Libya, and was also the father of Aegyptus 1 and Danaus 1 (see DANAIDS). His mother Libya was, in turn, daughter of Epaphus 1 and Memphis 2. And King Epaphus 1 of Egypt, from whom sprang the Libyans and the Ethiopians, was the founder of the city of Memphis in Egypt and the son of Zeus and Io, the girl who was once turned into a cow, but who is one of the Three Main Ancestors.

If Phoenix 1 would be considered to be the father of Europa, everything would amount to the same, because Phoenix 1, after whom Phoenicia is called, is said to be the son either of Agenor 1 or of Belus 1, and we would, also in this way, arrive to Io. Nothing is known about Europa's presumptive mothers.

The Bull

Some say that Zeus turned himself into a Bull, mounted Europa on his back, and conveyed her through the sea from Phoenicia to Crete. But others say that the Bull who carried Europa was the same Cretan Bull that Heracles 1 enjoined in one of his LABOURS, which in turn could be the same Bull, that was sent by Poseidon to King Minos 2 of Crete, and that later, consorting with the king's wife Pasiphae, became the progenitor of the Minotaur.

The search for Europa

When Europa disappeared on the back of the Bull, Agenor 1 sent out his sons in search of her, ordering them not to return until they had found their sister. That is how Cilix, Europa's brother, ended up in Cilicia in Asia Minor, a region called after him, where he became king after giving up the search. Cadmus, another of Europa's brothers, went with his mother Telephassa to Thrace, where he stayed for some time, before coming to Boeotia, where he founded the city of Cadmea, which was later called Thebes. For when Telephassa died, Cadmus went to Delphi to inquire about Europa, and the Oracle told him not to worry about her sister, but instead, following a cow, found a city wherever the animal would lay down to rest. And the cow rested in the spot where today the ciy of Thebes is. Another brother, Thasus, having sailed from Tyre, gave up the search and settled in an island off Thrace where he founded a city Thasus, called after himself. Europa's brother Phoenix 1 set out for Africa, and because he remained there, the Africans were called Phoenicians.

Europa marries

After having children with Zeus, Europa married Asterius 3, son of Tectamus, son of Dorus 1, son of Hellen 1, son of Deucalion 1, the man who survived the Flood. Tectamus had sailed to Crete with Aeolians and Pelasgians, becoming on his arrival king of the island. It is during the time when he was king of Crete that Zeus carried off Europa from Phoenicia. Tectamus' mother was daughter of Cretheus 1, son of Aeolus 1, brother of Dorus 1. Zeus gave Europa presents. One of them was a wonderful dog calle Laelaps 2 which was so swift that no beast could escape it. He also gave her Talos 1, a creature made of bronze, who was meant to be the warder of Crete. When after some time Cadmus, now king of Cadmea (the future Thebes) married Harmonia 1, daughter either of Ares and Aphrodite, or of Zeus and Electra 3 (the Pleiad), he gave his new wife a Robe and a Necklace as wedding presents (see Robe & Necklace of Harmonia 1), and some say that the Necklace was given by Europa, who had received it from Zeus. That is probably the last time someone heard of Europa, and her death was never reported.

After her time

After Asterius 3, Minos 1 became king of Crete, and after him his son Lycastus 1. After Lycastus 1, Minos 2 came to the throne, and when he died, Idomeneus 1 became king of Crete. Idomeneus 1 left his country in order to fight in the Trojan War, but when he returned from the war, an usurper Leucus 1 had taken the kingdom. Idomeneus 1 could not land in Crete and sailed for Italy.


Parentage (three versions)




Agenor 1 & Telephassa

Phoenix 1 & Perimede 3

Agenor 1 & Argiope 2

For Europa's father see main text above. The origin of those who are called Europa's mother is unknown.



Minos 1

Some say there were two Minos, and that Minos 2 was the son of Lycastus 1 and Ide 1, Lycastus 1 being the son of Minos 1. Ide 1 is daughter of Corybas, an otherwise unknown man.


Rhadamanthys acts as a judge in the Underworld, along with Minos 2. He is said to dwell in the Elysian Fields, or to have married Alcmena, Heracles 1's mother, after death in the Isles of the Blest.

Sarpedon 1

Sarpedon 1 and his brother Minos 2 disputed with each other, and Minos 2 prevailing, Sarpedon 1 emigrated to Lycia in Asia Minor, where he became king. Zeus granted Sarpedon 1 life for three generations, but Sarpedon 1 died at Troy killed by Patroclus 1.



Minos 2


Sarpedon 1

Asterius 3

Crete 1

According to some, Crete 1 was the wife of Minos 2, and not Pasiphae.



Carneus was worshipped in Sparta. His nurses had been Apollo and Leto.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Aegyptus 1, Agenor 1, Anchinoe, Andromeda, Antiphates 4, Asterius 3, Belus 1, Carneus, Cepheus 1, Crete 1, DANAIDS, Danaus 1, Deidamia 2, Deucalion 1, Dorus 1, Epaphus 1, Europa, Evander 3, Hellen 1, Io, Libya, Lycastus 1, Memphis 2, Minos 1, Minos 2, Nilus, Perseus 1, Poseidon, Rhadamanthys, Sarpedon 1, Sarpedon 3, Tectamus, Telephassa, Woman 11 Theban, Zeus.

Related sections Minos 2, Crete, Cadmus  

Apd.3.1.1-2; Dio.4.60.3; Hes.CW.19; Hyg.Fab.178; Nonn.1.350, 7.118; Ov.Fast.5.605; Pau.7.4.1, 3.13.5.