Lore of the Constellations: Taurus

There are a couple of Greek myths associated with Taurus the bull.  The most prominent one recounts how the bull is actually Zeus in a disguise he adopted to impress Europa, daughter of King Agenor of Phoenicia.

Europa liked to play along the beach.  So, one day, Zeus had Hermes drive the King’s cattle from their pastures to the mountain slopes where he would disguise himself as a bull and mingle among them.  It was there that Zeus waited to abduct Europa.  There was no mistaking the nicest-looking bull.  The bull Zeus turned into had a white hide and horns like polished metal.

Zeus allowed Europa to climb on his back and stroke his hide.  It was then that he stood up from the sand and began to wade out into the surf.  Europa held on to his horns as the bull began to get further and further out into the sea. The further out they got, the closer she held herself to the bull. 

Together, the two waded out into the ocean until finally Zeus dipped below the water to have Europa hold on to his neck. 

Eventually, the bull waded back to shore and Zeus revealed his true nature and seduced Europa.  He gave her presents that included a dog that later would become the constellation Canis Major. 

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