Europa, daughter of the king of Tyre, used to play with her companions on the sands where cattle were taken down to the shore. Jupiter (in Greek myth, Zeus) fell in love with her, and so, disguised as a bull with placid eyes, a show-white hide and horns shining like jewels, he joined the herd lowing in the grass. The disguised Jupiter frolicked and played until Europa lost her fear and hung garlands on his horns and finally ventured to mount him. With Europa on his back, Jupiter sped away across the ocean to Crete. Having landed on Crete, Jupiter made love to Europa. She gave birth to three sons. One of her sons, Minos, later became king of Crete.

Another version of the myth states that one of Europa's children was the continent that bears her name, and she herself was turned into a bull, which became the constellation and zodiac sign of Taurus.