Europa and the Alphabet: Phoenicians Awaken the Greeks from Their Dark Age

Event has passed (Thu Feb 22, 2018 - Thu Feb 22, 2018)
The Commonwealth Club
06:00 PM
Claim this listing


Douglas Kenning, Former Professor of History and Literature

The rape of Europa is a Greek myth that tells of a Phoenician princess stolen across the sea from Tyre to Crete. Her five brothers are sent to find her. Although none are successful, one brother, Cadmus, finds the city of Thebes, marries a local girl named Harmonia, and is credited with giving Greece agriculture, the alphabet and metalworking—the pillars of civilization. The myth’s names tell its story: Europa means “west,” Cadmus derives from the word for “east,” and Harmonia (“harmony”) was how Greeks defined beauty. The Greek myth is thought to depict the arrival of ideas, art, stories and technical skills from the Near East to Europe in the middle of the first millennium B.C. It was a seedtime that fertilized rocky, resource-poor, illiterate Greece, giving birth to western civilization.
Douglas Kenning relates the history that this richly layered myth evokes, both as it was once told and as it is told now, using century after century of beautiful paintings to illustrate this history.
Location: 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program MLF: Humanities Program organizer: George Hammond
All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.


  1. The Commonwealth Club 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA