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Abduction of Europe

Liberal yes Verona • Painting, 1470, 39×118 cm
About the artwork
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Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Mythological scene
Materials: Wood
Date of creation: 1470
Size: 39×118 cm
Artwork in selections: 1 selection

Description of the artwork «Abduction of Europe»

The myth of Europe was often used to decorate chests.


Set forth by Mosch's poem Idylls.

The king of the rich Phoenician city of Sidon, Agenor, had three sons and a daughter, beautiful as an immortal goddess. This young beauty was called Europe. One day I had a dream of the daughter of Agenor. She saw how Asia and that continent, which is separated from Asia by 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 in to another. In awe, Europe woke up, she could not understand the meaning of this dream. The young daughter of Agenor began to humbly pray that the gods would turn away the misfortune from her if the dream threatens them. Then, dressed in purple clothes, woven with gold, she went with her friends to a green meadow covered with flowers, to the seashore. There, frolic, they collected Sidon virgins flowers in their golden baskets. They collected fragrant, snow-white daffodils, variegated crocuses, violets and lilies. The very daughter of Agenor, shining with her beauty among her friends, like Aphrodite, surrounded by Harites, gathered only scarlet roses in her golden basket. Having gathered flowers, the virgins began laughing with a cheerful dance. Their young voices far echoed through the flowering meadow and the azure sea, drowning out its soft gentle splash.
Not long had to enjoy a beautiful Europe carefree life. Saw her son Krona, a powerful tsutichitel Zeus, and decided to abduct 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 on his forehead burned like a moonlight, a silver spot, while the golden horns of the bull were curved, like a young month, when he was first seen in the rays of purple sunset. A wonderful bull appeared in the clearing and with light steps, barely touching the grass, went up to the virgins. The Sidon virgins were not afraid of him; they surrounded a marvelous animal and gently stroked him. The bull approached Europe, he licked her hands and caressed her. The bull's breath was fragrant by amvrosia, all the air was filled with this fragrance. Europe stroked the bull with her tender hand over the golden wool, hugged his head and kissed him. The bull lay down at the feet of a beautiful maiden; he seemed to be asking her to sit on it.
Laughing, Europe sat on the broad back of a bull. Other girls wanted to sit next to her. Suddenly the bull jumped up and quickly rushed to the sea. He stole the one he wanted. They screamed loudly from the fright of the Sidoni. Europe, however, reached out to them and called for their help; but the Sidon virgins could not help her. Like a wind, a golden-horned bull rushed. 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 wool without wetting it. Beautiful Nereids surfaced from the depths of the sea; they crowd around the bull and swim after him. The god of the sea Poseidon himself, surrounded by sea deities, swims ahead in his chariot, with his trident he tames the waves, smoothing the path of the sea to his great brother Zeus. Trembling with fear, sitting on the back of a bull Europe. With one hand she holds on to his golden horns, with the other she picks up the edge of her purple dress so that his sea waves do not soak. In vain is she afraid; the sea is affectionately noisy, and its salt spray does not reach it. The sea wind sways the curls of Europe and wave its light veil. Farther down the shore, he had already disappeared into the blue distance. Around only the sea and the blue sky. Soon they appeared in the sea distance of the coast of Crete. Quickly sailed to him with his precious burden Zeus the bull and went ashore. Europe became the wife of Zeus, and she has since lived in Crete. Three sons were born to her and Zeus: Minos, Radamanf and Sarpedon. All over the world the fame of these mighty and wise sons of the thunderer Zeus thundered.