Zeus, Europa and the Birth of Minos
This myth of Zeus and Europa carries historical resonance – reflecting Crete’s connections with the East. It explains, in its way, how Crete with its prehistoric ties to Asia Minor, Syria, the Levant (Phoenicia) and Egypt also acquired a European dimension.
After Zeus grew up, he fell in love with Europa, the daughter of the King of Phoenicia. Maddened by his desire, Zeus wanted to ensnare her affections by guile. Making himself into a handsome white bull, he went and lay down on the sea-line on the beach where Europa was playing. Trusting the bull, Europa came and sat on his back .. at which point the bull sank at once into the waves .. and swam over to Crete.
One tradition has it that their union was consummated in the shade of a plane tree at Gortyn! From them were born three sons: Minoas (Minos), Rhadymanthys and Sarpedon. Asterios, King of Crete married Europa, adopted the boys and raised them.