Home » Zodiac Signs » Taurus » Taurus Mythology
Old woodcarving of Taurus - the bull

Taurus Mythology

The Taurus constellation has been known since at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the Sun’s location during the spring equinox. It has been associated with the bull in many cultures and mythologies: Greek and Egyptian among others, and even going back to Ancient Babylon.

Depictions of Taurus and the Pleiades star cluster have even been found in a cave painting at Lascaux, dating back to 15,000 BC. Both the constellation and the Pleiades have been known in many indigenous cultures and referred to as the bull and the seven sisters, which indicates a common origin for the names.

Taurus wood cutting

In Greek mythology, Taurus is usually associated with Zeus, who adopted the shape of a bull in order to seduce and abduct Europa, the beautiful daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor.

Zeus mingled with the king’s herd and, being the most handsome bull there, he got Europa’s attention. The princess admired the bull and, when she sat on his back, he rose and headed for the sea. Zeus carried Europa all the way to the island of Crete, where he revealed his true identity and lavished the princess with presents.

The two had three sons together, including Minos, who grew up to be the famous king of Crete, who built the palace at Knossos where bull games were held, and who also sacrificed seven young boys and girls to the Minotaur each year. Zeus later commemorated the bull by placing it among the stars.

An alternative interpretation associates Taurus with the nymph Io, whose line Europa was descended from, who was also seduced by Zeus and then transformed into a heifer when the two were nearly caught by Hera.

According to another myth, the mythology of Taurus begins with a wandering bull known as Cyrus. Cerus was a large and powerful bull whose villagers were terrified of because of his tendency to trample their villages to pieces on a whim. He was not owned by anyone, and none of the farmers knew where he came from. Though he was not immortal, most people assumed him to be because of his sheer size and strength and the fact that despite all of the destruction he caused nobody was ever able to stop him.

The bull was wild and out of control, choosing to follow his emotions on a whim. One day the Spring goddess Persephone found him trampling through a field of recently-bloomed flowers and went to him. Though he couldn’t speak, he seemed to understand her and her presence calmed him. They formed a bond together, and the bull learned to behave himself. Persephone taught the bull patience and how to use his strength wisely.

After that, every year in the spring when Persephone returns to the land, Cerus returns to the land to join her. She sits upon his back and he runs her through the fields, allowing her to set all of the plants in bloom as they ride by. In the autumn when Persephone returns to Hades, Cerus returns to the sky as the Taurus constellation.

Babylonian astronomers called the constellation Mulapin, or “The Heavenly Bull.” In the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest literary works from Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh faces the Bull of Heaven sent by the goddess Ishtar to kill the hero after he had rejected her advances.

Gilgamesh is sometimes associated with the nearby Orion, another ancient constellation, and the two constellations are depicted as Gilgamesh and the bull in combat.

Scroll to Top