Extract from the book Europa:
In those distant days, there reigned in the East, in fabled Sidon, a king named Agenor, son of the earth-shaker Poseidon and the Oceanid Libya. Agenor had three sons: Phoenix, Cilix and Cadmus, and a daughter, Europa, who was so lovely that even the goddess Aphrodite was envious of her beauty.
One night, Europa dreamed that two women were struggling bitterly for her possession. One was called the East and the other the West. If the East won, Europa would remain in her birthplace among her own people, but if the West were the victor, then she would leave with her on a long voyage beyond the blue sea to the regions where the sun sets in maj-esty each night.
It was the West who won that struggle. Torn with grief, the East was obliged to bid farewell to the lovely princess her soil had borne and raised, and whose dazzling beauty was the pride of all Asia.
Europa woke in terror, for nothing in the world would in-duce her to leave the land that had given her birth and the parents she loved so deeply. Kneeling in prayer, she begged the gods, and above all Zeus, to save her from exile and the loss of her dear ones.
But Zeus had other plans for the girl. It was he who had sent the god of dreams to trouble her sleep, for he had wished her to come willingly to the West, and he was far from pleased when he saw that Europa shuddered at the very thought of leaving home. Be that as it may, mighty Zeus was stirred by the desire to bring the lovely princess to Greece and make her his wife, and what Zeus wished had to be accomplished. Now that Oneiros, god of dreams, had failed him he contrived a secret plan to carry off the unsuspecting maiden.
One sunny spring day, Europa and her friends went out with baskets to gather flowers and enjoy the beauty of the countryside. Dancing and skipping for joy, they came to a flowery meadow and soon made it echo with their happy cries and songs. Before them stretched the boundless sea, calm and inviting, while in a green field nearby the herds of Europa’s father, king Agenor, stood grazing.
The princess laughed and played with her friends, running from flower to flower as happily as a lark. She wore a charming red dress and her face was radiant with the delight of sharing such surroundings with companions she loved. The breeze caressed her silken hair and the golden rays of the sun bathed it in their glory, making her lovely face more beautiful still…