Rape of Europa

   A mythological story told by Ovid in the Metamorphoses. Europa was the daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor and Telephassa. One day, as she played by the beach with her attendants, Jupiter appeared to her in the form of a white bull. At first, she was frightened but soon began to pet the animal, decorate it with flower garlands, and finally she sat on its back, at which point the bull took off with her to Crete. The union of Europa and Jupiter resulted in the birth of Minos, the Cretan king. The scene is often depicted in art, with Titian (1559; formerly Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) and Paolo Veronese (1580; Venice, Doge's Palace) providing some of the most striking examples.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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