The love story between Zeus and Europa is unusual on many account from Zeus’ other affairs. Europa is not only spared Hera’s jealous wrath, she also gains geographic fame through this story.

Europa was troubled by a dream which two continents in the guise of women—one Asia, and the other yet nameless—were fighting to possess Europa. She tried to busy herself with flower gathering the next day, and Zeus saw this pretty spectacle and fell in love with Europa. As a cautionary measure, Zeus assumed the shape of a bull to approach Europa. He was not a bull one would see grazing in a field, but a bull with a light chestnut color, a swelling neck, and massive shoulders.

A mark in the shape of a crescent moon graced Zeus’ forehead, and he seemed so gentle as well that Europa and the other maidens flower gathering were not startled by the bull’s approach. Europa was not hesitant to climb on the bull’s back, and as soon as she did Zeus took off at an alarming speed. To Europa’s shock, Zeus then began to cross the ocean to reach the island of Crete. There Europa remained, and bore Zeus two famous men: Minos and Rhadamanthus, who were rewarded for their justice upon the earth by being made judges of the dead.