One of the strange legends of the Phoenicians involves the disappearance of Europa, the daughter of Canaan 1, the son of Poseidon. In some versions of the story, Europa was a princess, in others, the daughter of a god. She was said to be exceedingly beautiful, and her father's favorite. One day a servant came into the palace and told Europa that a beautiful white bull had appeared mysteriously on the beach. Intrigued, Europa went down to see the unusual creature. The bull, we are told, was indeed very beautiful, and seemingly very tame and playful. Europa wrapped garlands of flowers around its horns, and frolicked beside it. Encouraged by the creature's gentleness, she climbed atop it, and it ran about the beach to her utter delight. Then, unexpectedly, the creature turned and ran toward the ocean. The servant ran after the two, but it was no use. The bull had run into the waves and had begun to swim out to sea. Europa's handmaiden could only watch in helpless horror as the vision of the princess disappeared off into the distance.
This same story is told by the Greeks, the only exception being that the figure of Canaan is replaced by Aegeanor (from whose name we derive the Aegean Sea.) Perhaps the oddest aspect of this unusual story is that historical chroniclers deny that its purely mythological. Herodotus says that the story of Europa was based on a real incident, and that she was in fact an historical personage. Though such a claim is certainly bizarre, it seems no less bizarre than the fact that the continent of Europe should have taken its name from the central figure in such a story. Why name a continent after a girl associated with the notion of being taken away by a sea bull? It only starts to make sense when one considers the story of Europa in conjunction with the story of the Quinotaur. The tale that begins with the kidnapping of Europa is finished by the myth of the Quinotaur, who sires a race of sacred kings. For the Greeks (and many scholars), the sea bull of the Europa saga is seen as Zeus, the god traditionally associated with (or personified as) a bull. But bulls were also associated with many of the gods and kings of Phoenicia and Sumeria. In fact, the figure of the sea bull can be traced directly to the figure of Dagon. An alternate name of Zeus was Dyaus, and an alternate name for Dagon was Daonos. So it would seem that Zeus and Dagon were different labels, applied by different cultures in different times to essentially the same figure. This of course is a very common process, and one that is encountered repeatedly in even the most superficial comparisons of one mythology to another. The kings of the most ancient cultures in time become their gods, and repeatedly the gods of dominant cultures become the gods of less dominant ones. So it is that the sea bull of Europa is one in the same as the Quinotaur of the Merovingian kings, and as the Quinotaur was the legendary father of European monarchs, the mother was Europa, after whom they named their continent.