Crete, Gortyna - Europa, Queen of Crete

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This coin type evokes the myth of Europa and the bull, an ancient story linking the Greek and Semitic worlds. Europa was the daughter of the king of Tyre, and in the Cretan myth, Zeus first takes the form of a bull to carry her off to the island of Crete, and then an eagle, to make love to Europa in a scene reminiscent of Leda and the swan.

Her depiction here is unconventional; instead of her usual appearance as a scantily-clad young woman she wears a polos (an archaic headdress which in this period was usually only associated with deities such as Hera or Artemis), and holds a bird-tipped sceptre - both symbols of royalty. Indeed, according to myth Zeus made Europa the first queen of Crete, and it is in that station that we see her now.

Crete, Gortyna AR Stater. Circa 4th century BC. Europa seated half right within branches of a tree, her right hand resting on a branch below, her left arm extended before her / Cretan bull standing right, head facing, bee below. Le Rider p. 79, 67, pl. 19, 3 (same dies); Svoronos 70, pl. 14, 17 (same dies). 11.76g, 26mm, 6h.

Extremely Fine. Very Rare, and in exceptional condition for the type.

From the Eckenheimer Collection.