Sunday, September 29, 2013

The legend behind the figurehead – Dutch tall ship EUROPA

In classic Greek Mythology, Zeus, king of the gods, took many human lovers. He attracted these maidens by changing himself into various forms.
When he first cast his eyes on Europa, daughter of the king of Pheonicia, she was walking along a beach. Disguising himself as a glistening snow-white bull, he approached the maiden.
Being so gentle and tame, Europa stroked the bull and draped a garland of wild flowers around his curving horns.
Feeling no fear of the beautiful beast, she climbed on its back and let it carry her down to the shore.
But once his feet touched the water, the bull leapt into the sea and carried Europa to the island of Crete, where the Greek God took her for his bride.

In Metamorphoses, the poet Ovid (born 43 BC) wrote:
…slowly, slowly down the broad, dry beach—
First in the shallow waves the great god set
His spurious hooves, then sauntered further out
'til in the open sea he bore his prize…

Today, the goddess Europa is remembered through her presence as the figurehead on the Dutch sailing ship which bears her name.
And like the young princess, who was transported to sea on the back of the glistening white beast, today's voyage crew show the same faith and fearlessness as they are carried to sea to sail the vast oceans of the world aboard this magnificent tall ship.

1) Europa and bull - Greek vase Tarquinia Museum, circa 480 BCE (Wiki)
2) Europa and the bull, by Fredericus de Wit (1700)(Wiki)
3) Figurehead (MM)
4) Bark EUROPA - photo courtesy of passenger on Oosterchelde.

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