ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • Ancient History»
  • Greek & Roman History

The Sons of Zeus and Europa in Greek Mythology

Updated on July 10, 2015
Colin Quartermain profile image

Having travelled through Italy, Greece and the Aegean in his youth, Colin quickly became interested in the ancient mythology of the region.

In Greek mythology, Zeus is well known for his numerous wives and lovers, and also the large number of offspring these relationships produced. Ancient writers would name hundreds of Zeus children, and whilst many of these offspring are forgotten today, some remain famous, including the three sons of Zeus born to Europa.

The Abduction of Europa

Carlo Maratta (1625–1713)  PD-art-100
Carlo Maratta (1625–1713) PD-art-100 | Source

Wives and Lovers of Zeus on Hubpages

Zeus and Europa

Europa was a princess of Tyre, the beautiful daughter of King Agenor. Zeus was so taken by the beauty of Europa that he decided to abduct her; something the god achieved by transforming himself into a magnificent white bull.

When Europa climbed on the back of the bull, the transformed Zeus swam away from Tyre, all the way to the island of Crete.

Revealing himself for who he was, Zeus and Europa would then have a brief relationship beneath a cypress tree. This brief relationship would bring forth three sons, Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon.

The three sons of Zeus and Europa would subsequently be adopted by the King of Crete, Asterion, when the king married Europa; and whilst the story of Europa ends at this point, the story of her sons continue.

Statue of King Minos

sailko CC-BY-SA-3.0
sailko CC-BY-SA-3.0 | Source

Minos

Minos is the most famous of the three sons of Zeus and Europa, as well as being one of the most famous kings of Greek mythology. The fame of Minos was such that when archaeological excavations were being undertaken on Crete, the discovered Minoan civilisation of the island was named in his honour.

Following the death of Asterion, the three adopted sons of the Cretan king would argue about who should succeed him.

Minos would pray to Poseidon for assistance, and in answering the prayers, the Greek sea god would send forth a white bull to indicate his preference for Minos. The sign of the god would ensure that Minos took the Cretan throne, and the new king would subsequently exile his brothers.

Minos, guided by Zeus, would introduce new, just laws by which Crete would be governed; and the suitability of the laws were such that they spread through other parts of the ancient world.

The justness of King Minos though was offset by some rash decisions and cruelness.

The first rash act made by Minos was in trying to deceive Poseidon by sacrificing an inferior bull in place of the magnificent white beast. Poseidon would subsequently curse Minos’ wife to fall in love with the bull, resulting in the birth of the Minotaur.

The cruelness of the king was also shown in his attitude towards Athens, for when Athens was bested by the army of Crete, Minos would subsequently demand human sacrifices, youths and maidens that were given over to the Minotaur.

Theseus would of course eventually kill the Minotaur, and when subsequently Daedalus, the king’s famous artisan, escaped from Crete, Minos would set off in pursuit.

This pursuit would prove deadly for Minos, for Daedalus found sanctuary in Sicily. Minos would eventually track the artisan down, but the daughters of King Cocalus would kill Minos whilst he bathed, as they had no wish to see Daedalus leave Sicily.

The story of Minos though even continues after his death, for it is said that Zeus appointed his son as one of the three judges of the dead, alongside Aeacus and Rhadamanthus; this position being in recognition for the introduction of just laws on Crete.

To reconcile the idea of a just and cruel king, some ancient sources would suggest that there were two different kings called Minos; one being the son of Zeus, and the other being the grandson of the first Minos.

Rhadamanthus, Minos and Aeacus

Arbeiten von Ludwig Mack, Bildhauer in Stuttgart PD-life-70
Arbeiten von Ludwig Mack, Bildhauer in Stuttgart PD-life-70 | Source

Rhadamanthus

The second son of Zeus and Europa was Rhadamanthus, and in some ancient sources, it was claimed that it was he who first succeeded Asterion, before being usurped by Minos.

Exiled from Crete, Rhadamanthus would travel to Ocaleia in Boeotia, and there, the son of Zeus would become king. Rhadamanthus would also find himself a bride, for he would wed Alcmene, the mother of Heracles. Rhadamanthus would become one of the tutors of Heracles, teaching his stepson the art of archery.

As a ruler, Rhadamanthus would become known for being just and honest, making fair judgements in all cases. King Rhadamanthus could not be bribed, nor could he be swayed by social standing, all those who came before him were treated the same. The fairness of Rhadamanthus was such that other kings of Ancient Greece would even come to Ocaleia to seek the guidance of Rhadamanthus.

Eventually though, Rhadamanthus would die, and again in recognition, Zeus would appoint him as one of the three Judges of the Underworld, as well as making him king of the Elysian Fields (paradise).

In truth, Zeus had no authority to appoint Rhadamanthus as a judge, nor as a king of paradise, for the underworld was the realm of Hades, not Zeus, but nevertheless, Rhadamanthus continued in Greek mythology in this position.

The Body of Sarpedon transported by Hypnos and Thanatos

Henry Fuseli (1741–1825)  PD-art-100
Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) PD-art-100 | Source

Sarpedon

The third son of Zeus and Europa, Sarpedon, is probably the least famous of the three brothers, and his story is probably the most confusing, for it is not necessarily clear in Greek mythology, whether there was one of two famous figures named Sarpedon.

Presuming there was one Sarpedon; the son of Zeus and Europa would leave Crete and would then settle in Milyas, which later become known as Lycia. Sarpedon would later be regarded as the king of Lycia.

Zeus would bless his son with the gift of long life, a life said to be equivalent to three generations.

The name of Sarpedon becomes famous when it appears in accounts of the Trojan War, for when the Achaeans attacked Troy, Sarpedon led Lycian forces to aid in the defence of King Priam’s city.

During the 10 year war, Sarpedon’s name would be amongst the most prominent of all Troy’s heroes. In one story, Sarpedon, along with his cousin Glaucus, would lead a two pronged attack against the Achaean’s camps, endangering the beached shops.

It had been foretold though that Sarpedon was destined to die at Troy, by the hand of Patroclus, and when Patroclus took to the battlefield in the armour of Achilles, the two would meet face-to-face.

Zeus pondered about sparing his son from his destiny, but other gods and goddesses pointed out that their own children were dying at Troy, and so Sarpedon was killed by Patroclus.

Glaucus would recover the body of his cousin, and then the god Apollo would cleanse the body. Hypnos and Thanatos would then carry the body of the Lycian king back to his homeland where funeral rites were completed.

Some writers would dismiss the three generation life line of Sarpedon as a myth, and like Minos, would instead regard the Sarpedon who fought and died at Troy, as the grandson of the original son of Zeus.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Colin Quartermain profile image
    Author

    Colin Quartermain 3 years ago

    many thanks for the compliment

  • daydreamer13 profile image

    daydreamer13 3 years ago

    Excellent subject! I find myself looking for your hubs in the list. I find them fascinating. Very glad you're on here.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)