Lucian: The myth of Europe

From Loeb Classical Library, vol. 7; transl. M.D. Macleod.

Published by permission Of Harvard University Press

Dialogues of the Sea Gods – West Wind and South Wind

West Wind: I’ve never seen a more magnificent pageant on the sea, ever since I began to live and blow. Didn’t you see it, Notus?

South Wind: What pageant do you mean Zephyrus? Who were in it?

W.W: You missed a most delightful spectacle, the like of which you’ll never see again.

S.W.: Well, I was at work about the Red Sea, and I blew also over the parts of India near the cost. So I’ve no idea what you are talking about.

W.W.: But do you know Agenor of Sidon?

S.W. :Yes, Europa’s father. Of course I do.

W.W.: I’ll tell you something about the girl herself.

S.W.: Not that Zeus has long been in love with her? I’ve known that for ages.

W.W.: Well, you may know about his love, but let me now tell you what followed. Europa in her play had come down to the beach with her companions, and Zeus took the shape of a bull, and started playing with them, looking magnificent, for he was all white with nice curly horns and gentle eyes. Well, he too started skipping about on the beach, and bellowed most charmingly, so that Europa even dared to climb up on to him. Thereupon Zeus galloped off to the sea with her on his back, plunged in and began to swim; she was quite terrified, and clutched his horn with her left hand so as not to slip off, while she held her robe down against the wind with her right hand.

S.W.: Indeed a delightful spectacle, for you, my dear Zephyrus -a real love-scene! Zeus swimming along and carrying off his beloved!

W.W. But what followed was far more delightful, Notus. The sea became waveless at once, and draping herself in calm, made herself smooth; we all kept quiet, and followed beside them, just watching what was going on, while the Loves fluttered alongside just above the sea, occasionally just touching the water with their feet, carrying lighted torches, and singing the marriage hymn, and the Nereids, coming to the surface, rode alongside on dolphins, clapping their hands, pretty well half-naked. The Tritons and all other creatures of the sea that do not frighten the eye, were dancing round the girl. Poseidon astride his car, with Amphitrite beside him, was driving in front, delighted to lead the way for his brother as he swam. To cap all, two Tritons were carrying Aphrodite reclining on a shell, and sprinkling all manner of flowers over the bride. This went on all the way from Phoenicia to Crete; but when he set foot on his island, the bull was no more to be seen, but Zeus took Europa’s hand and led her to the cave on Mount Dicte -blushing she was, and looking on the ground, for now she knew why she was being carried off. But we each assailed a different part of the sea, and stirred up the waves.

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