The Greek myth related to the Abduction of Europe by the Olympian god Zeus has its
origins in prehistoric times.
This myth originated in Crete, which maintained good relations with Fenice, both before and during the Minoan era. Europe as a theme for works of art, however, was popularized mostly during the Classic period, as is revealed by the art works found in different Greek regions. Many artists of Renaissance and of latter years were also inspired with Zeus strong passion for a mortal woman.
According to the myth, Europe -the fenecian nymph- and her maidservants were lying carefree near the sea shore when Zeus saw her. He marked her out, fell in love with and decided to abduct her. There is, however, one more version to the myth, which seems to dominate. According to that, Europe was daughter of the king of Tyre; Zeus met her in Fenice and took the decision to abduct and transport her to Crete. Transition on its own, bears a sense of transformation, therefore the characteristics of external beauty of that distinguished maiden, became, at the same time, exceptional mental talents.
Zeus, transformed to a white bull emerging from the sea, abducted the maiden. Each transformation implies the transition from a natural to a spiritual order. The transformation of Zeus was not fortuitous, forasmuch as the seed ox was the symbol of earth, possessing the robust potency for continuing his line.
The attributes of the bull are equal to the attributes of the sun, so beneficial for the nature (see Homeric Epics). The emergence of the bull did not startle anyone except Europe, who was amazed by this unexpected hymen with a God, which would give her immortality.
The abduction, as a symbolic act, seemed to survive in the matrimonial ceremonies of Ancientry. It was an age-old usage of marriage symbolizing the drastic transition from a position to another. Different depictions on vases referring to this ceremony, show the suitor holding the wrist, rather than the hand, of the bride. This example bears the mark of the forgotten and symbolic usage of a maidens violent abduction. It symbolized her detachment from the past and the transition from her virgin life to marital state based on procreation. This transition was also meant, for Europe, the simultaneous and unexpected change of her entity: she was mortal and she became the empyreal companion of the cloud compeller Zeus.
Nikos and Pandelis Sotiriadis, who elaborated the sculpture "The Abduction of Europe", are talented sculptors and know perfectly the behaviour and the abilities of the materials they use. They possess creativeness and knowledge. Many of their works are inspired from different myths, legends, traditions, symbols and archetypes, the altered versions of which they treat using their originality and their distinct expression.
The complex based on the myth of Europe, is made of forged metals and glass. The body of the nymph is made of bronze and the bulls body is of stainless steel .For the rear of the bull, they combined steel and glass, in order to show the bull emerging from the sea. It is a monumental sculpture 3,6 m high, 1,5m wide and 4m long. The base of the sculpture is 2m high, 2m wide and 5m long.
Nikos and Pandelis Sotiriadis used 2 different materials for the creation of this
complex, in order to show by their contrast, the fulgurant splendor of the white bull
(stainless steel) and the unimpaired blooming beauty of the aureate Europe (
The bull is purported vigorous, vehement and galloping, following a diagonal, acclivitous course. His head, however, is turned emotionally to the direction of the maiden and together with his ellipsoidal tail forms the shape of an embrace. The bull identifies only the essential characteristics of an animal, without dispossessing the rest of the regular moulded body - which accentuates the solid composition of the volume - of its dynamic abstractiveness.
Europe is mounting on the animals back, welcomed into the curve that is formed by the head and the back-end of the bull. Her sitting position reflects her sudden detachment from the earth and from her friends with whom she still keeps contact. Whereas, her position she has on the back of the disguised Zeus reveals her surprise. Her opened legs remind the way the woman of the Greek country were riding the mules.The maiden, with her nude , luscious and beautiful body, is in a balanced dancing motion. Simultaneously, she turns suspended around her pivot, transmitting her weight onto the bulls back.
The earthly materiality of her body is transubstantiated because, by the act of abduction, she receives transcendental powers from the god. Zeus symbolizes the transformed nature while Europe represents the transformed entity. The cause identifies the effect. The bull becomes the catalyst for the maiden Europe to be transformed to a symbol and a personalized concept.
The characteristics on the face of Europe and the bull, are fundamentally and essentially elaborated, idealizing by this way the natural aspect. Her face is presented as a persona, as a mask, resembling the stone- carved sculptures of Greek folklore, which in the past decorated the houses exteriors, to ward off the evil spirits. The two sculptors have transferred to the face of Europe, the memory of those stone- carved sculptures.
Europe is presented with many qualities at the same time: as woman and symbol, as mortal and imperishable entity, as memory and myth, as reality and post history and finally as an earthly and transcendental being. She is in permanent readiness and, with her distinguishable discernment, she faces courageously her hopeful future.
Her name (large brow significant of brilliance and contemplative glance significant of sagacity and wisdom) reveals the disposition to attemper all contrarieties and to overcome all obstacles.
This particular complex, as to its symbolism, is reduced to the unification of civilizations. These civilizations could create a new reality, where the particularities of each one are respected.
The style, the symmetries, the proportions, the associations and the analogies concur to an eloquent and stylish work, where myth becomes reality and reality becomes allegory. The instantaneous fact of abduction is construed to a permanent act of transitional change and reconstruction, tracing vigorously the progressive development of Europe; Europe, who was a maiden but became a geographic and mostly a multi-national concept, over all Europe became a homeland for everyone of us.