Europa to Europe again

EU published new Euro banknotes with the portrait of Europa, a figure from Phoenician and Greek mythology which gave the name of the European continent. The image found originally on an ancient vase in Louvers Museum.

Princess Europe

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When Europa disappeared on the back of the Bull, Agenor sent out his sons in search of her, ordering them not to return until they had found their sister.

Cilix, Europa’s brother went out in his search and 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 and stayed there 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 city of Thebes is.

Another brother, Thasus, having sailed from Tyre in his search of Europa, gave up and settled in an island off Thrace and founded a city, Thasus, called after himself. Meanwhile, another brother, Phoenix set out for Africa, and remained there.

Europa was a Phoenician woman of high lineage, from whom the name of the continent Europe has ultimately been taken. The story of her abduction by Zeus in the form of a white bull was a Cretan story; as Kerényi points out “most of the love-stories concerning Zeus originated from more ancient tales describing his marriages with goddesses. This can especially be said of the story of Europa”.