This distinctly peculiar legend may have been an attempt by the Greeks to explain invasions, expeditions, or cultural or trading links of the past, or even reflect distant memories of such events. Herodotus asserts that Greek raiders—“they were probably Cretans”—kidnapped Europa from Tyre, possibly in revenge for the earlier abduction of Io from Argos. Several cities of the ancient world (including the Roman Republic) put Europa on their coins, and she also makes a modern appearance on the standard two Euro coins of Greece—one of the most attractive designs in the whole Euro series.
At Seleuceia ad Calycadnum in Cilicia, the depiction of the abduction includes a little figure of Eros giving his encouragement to what is going on.
* Seleuceia ad Calycadnum in Cilicia, coins of Julia Domna showing Europa carried r. on a bull, holding a billowing garment above her head (to suggest the wind, i.e. movement). The bull is being led by Eros flying r. (but turned back to look at Europa); below it is the upper body of an ocean deity wearing a crab headdress, and holding a rudder and a dolphin.
Æ 22, 2 h, 4.87 g. Obv. IOYΛIA ΔOM[NA CEBACT]. Draped bust of Julia Domna r. Rev. CEΛEYKEΩN KA, in ex. ΛYKA. As described above.
Æ 23, 6 h, 6.43 g. Similar, with a delightful portrait of Domna (Private collection, photos by permission).
Æ 24, 8.05 g. Similar (Photo courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., www.cngcoins.com).
References: SNG von Aulock 5829; SNG France 984; SNG Levante 742; SNG Levante Supplement 191; Imhoof-Blumer, Kleinasiatische Münzen, 10; SNG Pfalz, 6, 1053; Lindgren III, 895