In Greek mythology Europa (Greek Εὐρώπη) was a Phoenician
woman of high lineage, from whom the name of the continent
Europe has ultimately been taken. The name Europa occurs in
Hesiod's long list of daughters of primordial Oceanus and
Tethys. The story of her abduction by Zeus in the form of a
white bull was a Cretan story; as Kerényi points out "most of
the love-stories concerning Zeus originated from more ancient
tales describing his marriages with goddesses. This can
especially be said of the story of Europa".
The daughter of the earth-giant Tityas and mother of Euphemus
by Poseidon was also named Europa.
Europa's earliest literary reference is in the Iliad, which is
commonly dated to the 8th century BC. Another early
reference to her is in a fragment of the Hesiodic Catalogue of
Women, discovered at Oxyrhyncus. The earliest vase-painting
securely identifiable as Europa, dates from mid-7th century
（Εὐρώπη), according to the Iliad (14.321), a daughter of
Phoenix, but according to the common tradition a daughter of
Agenor, was carried off by Zeus, who had metamorphosed himself
into a bull, from Phoenicia to Crete. (Apollod. 3.1.1; Mosch.
2.7; Hdt. 1.173; Paus. 7.4.1, 9.19.1; Ov. Met. 2.839, &c.;
Comp. AGENOR.) Europe, as a part of the world, was believed to
have received its name from this fabulous Phoenician princess.
(Hom. Hymn. in Apoll. 251; Hdt. 4.45.) There are two other
mythical personages of this name (lies. Theog. 357; Pind. P.
4.46), which occurs also as a surname of Demeter. (Paus.
9.39.4.) - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and
mythology, William Smith, Ed.