“Europa’s Rape” (ll) – Ovid

by richibi

The Rape of Europa, c.1732 - 1734 - Francois Boucher

         The Rape of Europa” (c.1732 – 1734)


               François Boucher





            Agenor’s royal daughter, as she plaid

            Among the fields, the milk-white bull survey’d,


Agenor, king of Tyre, in Phoenicia,

an area comprised then of ancient

Lebanon, as well as a good part of

the Eastern, and later, the Southern,

which is to say the African,

Mediterranean coasts, father of,

notably, Europa, his royal, his

indeed mythic, daughter 

            And view’d his spotless body with delight,

            And at a distance kept him in her sight.


Europa is intrigued, delight[ed], by this

milk-white …spotless …bull, but from

a distance, discreetly, furtively

            At length she pluck’d the rising flow’rs, and fed

            The gentle beast, and fondly stroak’d his head.


pluck’d, dared, mischievously, to



the rising flowers, offering [their] cup

to the sun


            He stood well-pleas’d to touch the charming fair,

            But hardly could confine his pleasure there.

            And now he wantons o’er the neighb’ring strand,

            Now rowls his body on the yellow sand;


to wanton, to play, to frolic, often

immodestly, like puppies, goats


strand, shore


rowls, rolls


            And, now perceiving all her fears decay’d,


decay’d, dispelled, dissipated,



            Comes tossing forward to the royal maid;

            Gives her his breast to stroke, and downward turns

            His grizly brow, and gently stoops his horns.


grizly, grizzly, grayish

            In flow’ry wreaths the royal virgin drest


drest, adorned


            His bending horns, and kindly clapt his breast.

            ‘Till now grown wanton and devoid of fear,

            Not knowing that she prest the Thunderer,


the Thunderer, Jove / Jupiter / Zeus


            She plac’d her self upon his back, and rode

            O’er fields and meadows, seated on the God.


however heedlessly, however

immoderately, immodestly,

however innocently


see above

            He gently march’d along, and by degrees

            Left the dry meadow, and approach’d the seas;

            Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,

            Now plunges in, and carries off the prize.

            The frighted nymph looks backward on the shoar,


shoar, shore


            And hears the tumbling billows round her roar;

            But still she holds him fast: one hand is born


born, borne, held


            Upon his back; the other grasps a horn:

            Her train of ruffling garments flies behind,

            Swells in the air, and hovers in the wind.


see here also for a more windswept

picture of Europamore in keeping

with the last few lines

            Through storms and tempests he the virgin bore,

            And lands her safe on the Dictean shore;


Dictean, of Dicte, or Dikti, a mountain

range in Eastern Crete, site of the

Diktaion Antronor Dictaean Cave,

the place where Jove / Jupiter / Zeus

was apparently born, if it wasn’t the

Idaean Cave, which is to say a cave on

Mount Idatherefore Idaean, also in

Crete, both hollows having claimed

the right to be called the site of the

exalted provenance


            Where now, in his divinest form array’d,

            In his true shape he captivates the maid;


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus manifest, no

longer bull, but divinity, dripping

still in bovine potency, however


            Who gazes on him, and with wond’ring eyes

            Beholds the new majestick figure rise,

            His glowing features, and celestial light,

            And all the God discover’d to her sight.


once, to a man who’d bewitched me,

how could you touch me, I wrote, you

must’ve known you would transfix me,

leave me breathless, which he,

however inadvertently, had, did


I went on, of course, to not populate

continents, nor to become queen of

Crete, but was Europa, in that

instance, before my own exalted




R ! chard