After last week’s disappointingly normal entries, this week we are back with more from the mythological naked lady lover, François Boucher. It’s a double feature again, because these two works form a thematic set of being totally blasé about abduction and sexual assault.
The paintings represent the story of the abduction and rape of the woman Europa (sometimes used as a personification of Europe). The story goes like this: in a totally out of character move, Zeus has the hots for Europa, so he disguises himself as an animal to get close to her and have sweet, sweet bestial sex. Remember the swan? This time it’s a white bull. Which I guess is at least slightly more anatomically plausible in terms of human-animal proportions, if you want to consider the logistics, which I really don’t.
So, he transforms into a bull and hides out in her father’s herd. Europa and friends are hanging out and gathering flowers, because that was the only acceptable lady-activity in ancient times besides being lusted after. In the midst of the flower-gathering, she spots the bull and starts caressing it, apparently not questioning the fact that she’s never seen this particular bull before. Maybe Zeus had some background info on her personal preferences and the bull wasn’t such a longshot choice of animal, after all. Anyway, eventually she sits on the Mystery Bull’s back, and at this point Zeus the Bull seizes the opportunity to zoom off into the sea and swim to Crete with her. Presumably it’s this point that he rapes her, although Wikipedia tactfully only mentions that he made her queen of Crete.
The first painting is “The Abduction of Europa.”
This is the most laid-back abduction ever. First off, the “abducted” lady is surrounded by people, none of whom seem to bat an eye at the random bull their friend has plonked down on like some kind of smelly La-Z-Boy.
They’re more like, “Hey Europa, want some more flowers to adorn that adorable bull? He’s so kewwwwwt.”
Europa herself doesn’t seem terribly concerned by the situation. She’s not even paying much attention to the naked baby angel she has on a leash, who frankly looks way more threatening than the bull. She’s just sort of staring blankly into space, enjoying her very comfy, loose-fitting garb.
Even the bull isn’t in a rush to get up. The random naked man coming out of the sea (who no one seems to notice) is more concerned with the situation, whispering, “Uh, hey, Zeus, you might want to get a move on with the whole abduction thing before Hera notices what you’re doing. Again.”
The dude behind him in the water is the most concerned of anyone, wondering to himself, “Is this really a smart abduction plan? Having a bovine swim to an island, with nothing to hold the woman in place? Should we at least knock her out? No? Ok then.”
Now we get to the second painting, “The Rape of Europa.”
This is also the most laid-back rape ever, as Europa still doesn’t seem to have noticed that anything is amiss. Maybe she goes long-distance swimming with bulls as a part of her regular health routine. Frankly this looks suspiciously like the scene we just saw, with lots of ladies and flowers hanging out, except here there are less clothes and the accompanying cupids look more like they are melting.