Phoenicia was a major influence in trade and commerce throughout the ancient world.
Europa was the daughter of Agenor, the King of Tyre.
Europa was abducted by Jupiter (Greek god Zeus), who disguised himself as a white bull. He swam across the surface of the water to the island of Crete. Representation of Europa on a metope from a temple at Selinus, c. 500 B.C.
Diagram of Greek Doric architecture: metope in frieze
Illustrations of Classical architecture in our region: Corinthian column with acanthus leaves Frieze with griffins at the Buffalo Museum of Science
Representations of Europa in Greek classical art: Representations of Jupiter’s abduction of Europa on Greek vase paintings.
Representations of Europa in Roman classical art: Roman mosaic of Europa
Representations of Europa in Western art: Antonio Carracci, 1583-1618: “The Abduction of Europa” Notice the garland of flowers around the bull’s neck
An “eponym” (Greek epi + onuma = name), adjective = eponymous: a person whose name is thought to be the source of the name of something The ancient civilization on the island of Crete is eponymous with King Minos, who is the son of Jupiter (after he transformed himself from the bull form) and Europa. “Minoan” is the name given to the extinct Bronze Age civilization (3000-1000 B.C.) on Crete by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans
King Minos and Minoan civilization on Crete Fresco on a wall of the palace at Knossos on Crete showing some “bull jumping” ceremony (?).
Details of the myth of the abduction of Europa by Jupiter Europa bore Jupiter three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon Jupiter gave Europa three gifts: a bronze robot, talos, who guarded the shores of Crete against invaders; a dog that would never let its prey escape; and a hunting spear that would always hit its mark (target) Jupiter married Europa to the King of Crete, Asterius, who adopted her children Europa’s son Minos was married to the daughter of Helios, Pasiphae, who bore him children: Ariadne, Phaedra, and Androgeus
Genealogy of the progeny of Europa Agenor m. ? King of Tyre in Phonecia Asterius* m. Europa m. Zeus Rhadamanthus Sarpedon Minos m. Pasiphae m. white bull *Asterius adopted Europa’s children by Jupiter Ariadne Phaedra Androgeus Minotaur All of Europa’s children, in addition to the Minotaur, are involved in their own myths, all tragic in outcome.
Minos’ bull: the myth of the Minotaur When competing for supremacy in Crete, Minos claimed that the gods destined him to rule; Minos offered a sacrifice to Poseidon and prayed that a bull might come out of the sea as a sign that he (Minos) was chosen by the gods to rule; it did, and he was made King of Crete Minos should have sacrificed the bull to Poseidon to thank him for his help; however, Minos admired the bull and kept it
The consequences of Minos’ violation of sacred obligations to the gods Poseidon punished Minos by causing his wife, Pasiphae, to fall in love with the bull The product of their union was the monster the Minotaur (Minos’ bull), a human man with the head of a bull (man-eating monster)
The Labyrinth Minos hired Daedalus, a famous architect, to build a labyrinth to hide/ confine the Minotaur In a later myth, the Greek hero Theseus kills the Minotaur and escapes the labyrinth, aided by Ariadne (a daughter of Minos)
The Myth of Daedalus and Icarus Minos then marooned Daedalus and his son Icarus on an island so that Daedalus could not reveal the secret of the labyrinth (how to get in and back out again) Daedalus then created wings so that he and his son could fly off the island
The Myth of Daedalus and Icarus Even though Daedalus warned his son not to fly too near the sun, Icarus did not heed his father’s warning and fell crashing into the sea The myth of Daedalus and Icarus is a “didactic” myth—it teaches a lesson: don’t ignore the advice of your father !
Minoan civilization The “Lion Gate” at the Palace of Knossos on Crete.
Another view of the “Lion Gate” at the Minoan palace on Crete
Myth as Symbol The abduction of Europa from Phoenicia and her life on Crete is a symbolic representation of the transplanting and merging of the culture of the Near East, through the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, with the culture of Europe and Western Civilization. This incident was “rationalized” by the Greek historian Herodotus as one of the “historical” incidents between the Greeks and the Asians that ultimately led to the Persian Wars.
Minoan and Mycenaean civilization Mycenae-a very ancient city on a hill in the north-east corner of the Plain of Argos in the Peloponnesus on the mainland of Greece-was inhabited in the third millennium B.C. by a pre-Hellenic (Greek) population, akin to that of Minoan Crete; there is some mysterious link between these civilizations, illustrating the “diffusion” (spread) of culture to remote locations The Mycenaean civilization was revealed in 1876 through the excavations of Heinrich Schliemann
According to Greek myth, Mycenae was founded by the legendary (mythic) hero Perseus, and subsequently became the kingdom of Agamemnon (brother of Menelaus)—the leader of the Greek forces in the Trojan War This golden death mask of an Aegean king was found at the acropolis of Mycenae. The archeologist Heinrich Schliemann referred to it as the Mask of Agamemnon.