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Europe

The king of the rich Phoenician city of Sidon, Agenor, had three sons and a daughter, beautiful as an immortal goddess. The name of this young beauty Europe. I once had a dream of Agenor's daughter. She saw how Asia and the continent that is separated from Asia by the sea, in the form of two women, fought for her. Every woman wanted to own Europe. Asia was defeated, and she, who brought up and nurtured Europe, had to give it up to another. Europe woke up in fear, she could not understand the meaning of this dream. The young daughter of Agenor humbly began to pray that the gods would avert misfortune from her if sleep threatened them. Then, dressed in purple robes, woven with gold, she went with her friends to a green meadow covered with flowers, to the seashore.

Abduction of Europe
The abduction of Europe.
(painting by V. A. Serov)
There, frolicking, the Sidonian maidens gathered flowers in their golden baskets. They collected fragrant, snow-white daffodils, colorful crocuses, violets and lilies. The daughter of Agenor herself, shining with her beauty among her friends, like Aphrodite, surrounded by charites, collected only scarlet roses in her golden basket. Having gathered flowers, the virgins began to lead a merry dance with laughter. Their young voices carried far across the blooming meadow and across the azure sea, drowning out its soft gentle splash.

For a short time I had to enjoy a beautiful and carefree life. Her son saw her Krona, the mighty cloudworm Zeus, and decided to kidnap her. In order not to frighten young Europe with his appearance, he took the form of a wonderful bull. All the hair of Zeus the bull sparkled like gold, only a silver spot burned on his forehead, like the radiance of the moon, while the golden horns of the bull were curved, like the new moon when it is first seen in the rays of a purple sunset. A wonderful bull appeared in the clearing and with light steps, barely touching the grass, approached the maidens. The maidens of Sidon were not afraid of him, they surrounded the wonderful animal and gently stroked him. The bull came up to Europa, he licked her hands and caressed her. The bull's breath was fragrant with ambrosia, the whole air was filled with this fragrance. Europe stroked the bull with her gentle hand on the golden wool, hugged his head and kissed him. The bull lay down at the feet of the beautiful maiden, he seemed to ask her to sit on him.

Europe on a bull sails through the sea
Europe sails across the sea on a bull, followed by Eros;
on the right stands King Agenor, the father of Europe.
(Drawing on a vase.)
Laughing, Europe sat on the bull's broad back. Other girls also wanted to sit next to her. Suddenly the bull jumped up and quickly rushed to the sea. He stole the one he wanted. The Sidonians screamed loudly from fright. Europe stretched out her hands to them and called for their help; but the maidens of Sidon could not help her. A golden-horned bull was rushing like the wind. He threw himself into the sea and quickly, like a dolphin, swam through its azure waters. And the waves of the sea parted before him, and their spray rolled down like diamonds from his fur, without wetting it. Beautiful nereids have surfaced from the depths of the sea; they crowd around the bull and swim after him. The god of the sea himself Poseidon, surrounded by sea deities, sails ahead on his chariot, with his trident he tames the waves, leveling the way across the sea to his great brother Zeus. Trembling with fear, Europe sits on the back of the bull. With one hand she holds on to his golden horns, while with the other she picks up the edge of her purple dress so that the sea waves do not soak it. In vain she is afraid; the sea gently roars, and its salty spray does not reach her. The sea wind stirs the curls of Europe and flutters its light veil. Further and further the shore, now he has disappeared into the blue distance. All around is the sea and the blue sky. Soon the shores of Crete appeared in the sea distance. Zeus the bull quickly swam to him with his precious burden and went ashore. Europa became the wife of Zeus, and she has lived in Crete ever since. Three sons were born to her and Zeus: Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon. The glory of these mighty and wise sons of the thunderer Zeus thundered all over the world.