Europa, in Greek mythology, was a maiden who was carried off by Zeus, the king of the gods, who had taken the form of a white bull. She was the daughter of Agenor, king of Tyre, and the sister of Cadmus. Zeus was attracted by Europa’s great beauty. As a magnificent white bull he mingled with Agenor’s cattle on the sea-shore where Europa and her companions were walking. Europa played with the seemingly gentle animal, but when she mounted his back he raced into the sea and swam to the island of Crete with the terrified girl.
On Crete, Zeus ravished Europa, and she eventually bore him three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. Europa later married Asterius, king of Crete, who adopted her sons. Zeus gave her three gifts: a bronze man, Talos, to guard the island, a hound that never lost his quarry, and a javelin that never missed its mark. The gifts were later passed on to Minos, who became king of Crete. The Cretans called Europa Hellotis and worshiped her as a goddess of fertility.
In the Homeric tales, Europa was the beautiful daughter of King Phoenix of Phoenicia.