Why Europe… what’s in a name?

March 16, 2008

Got to wondering about why Europe was called Europe, so I looked around and this is pretty much how it looks… 

Etymologically, the dominant theory suggests the name Europe is derived from the Greek roots meaning broad (eur-) and eye (op-, opt-), hence Eurṓpē, “wide-gazing” (compare with glaukōpis (grey-eyed) Athena or boōpis (ox-eyed) Hera). Broad has been an epithet of Earth itself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion.

 In ancient Greek mythology, Europa was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus abducted after assuming the form of a dazzling white bull. He took to the island of Crete where she gave birth to Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon. For Homer, Europe (Greek: Εὐρώπη, Eurṓpē; see also List of traditional Greek place names) was a mythological queen of Crete, not a geographical designation.

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One Response to “Why Europe… what’s in a name?”


  1. Given the multiple use of the name Europe in Greek mythos,for goddesses, mortals, towns, river, region:these would point to a pre-Greek goddess with a non-Greek name. So the Greek translation does not make much sense.


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