Fjeld was wondering about Europe. I wonder if Popper would think that ‘the myth
of Europe’ is irrefutable.
In classical Graeco-Roman mythology, Europa (Ancient Greek: Εὐρώπη) is the name
of of an ancient queen.
The name contains the elements εὐρύς, "wide, broad" and ὤψ, "eye, face,
countenance", hence the name of the queen would mean "wide-gazing" or "broad of
Broad is an epithet of Earth herself in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European
religion and the poetry devoted to it.
For the second part, compare also the divine attributes of "grey-eyed" Athena
(γλαυκῶπις) or ox-eyed Hera (βοὠπις).
There have been attempts to connect Eurṓpē to a Semitic term for "west", this
being either Akkadian erebu meaning "to go down, set" (said of the sun) or
Phoenician 'ereb "evening, west", which is at the origin of Arabic Maghreb and
In fact, Michael A. Barry, professor in Princeton University's Near Eastern
Studies Department, finds the mention of the word Ereb on an Assyrian stele
with the meaning of "night, [the country of] sunset", in opposition to Asu
"[the country of] sunrise", i.e. Asia.
The same naming motive according to "cartographic convention" appears in Greek
Ἀνατολή (Anatolḗ "[sun] rise", "east", hence Anatolia).
Martin Litchfield West stated that "phonologically, the match between Europa's
name and any form of the Semitic word is very poor."
Next to these hypotheses there is also a Proto-Indo-European root *h1regʷos,
meaning "darkness", which also produced Greek Erebus.
Most major world languages use words derived from Eurṓpē or Europa to refer to
Chinese, for example, uses the word Ōuzhōu (歐洲/欧洲).
A similar Chinese-derived term Ōshū (欧州) is also sometimes used in Japanese
such as in the Japanese name of the European Union, Ōshū Rengō (欧州連合), despite
the katakana Yōroppa (ヨーロッパ) being more commonly used.
In some Turkic languages the originally Persian name Frangistan ("land of the
Franks") is used casually in referring to much of Europe, besides official
names such as Avrupa or Evropa.
Note that if “Brexit means Brexit,” when translated to Japanese (where ‘the
European Union’ is referred to as either Ōshū Rengō (欧州連合), or Yōroppa (ヨーロッパ),
May’s tautology comes out as more obscure. For surely May’s point is that the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland may leave the European
Union, but surely they cannot leave Europe!
The name Europe, as a geographical term, was first used by the Ancient Greek
geographer Strabo to refer to part of Thrace below the Balkan mountains.
Later, under the Roman Empire the name was given to a Thracian province.
It is derived from the Greek word Εὐρώπη in all Romance languages, Germanic
languages, Slavic languages, Baltic languages, Celtic languages, Iranian
languages, and Uralic languages (Hungarian Európa, Finnish Eurooppa, Estonian
Jürgen Fischer, in Oriens-Occidens-Europa summarized how the name came into
use, supplanting the oriens-occidens dichotomy of the later Roman Empire, which
was expressive of a divided empire, Latin in the West, Greek in the East.
In the 8th century, ecclesiastical uses of "Europa" for the imperium of
Charlemagne provide the source for the modern geographical term.
The first use of the term Europenses, to describe peoples of the Christian,
western portion of the continent, appeared in the Hispanic Latin Chronicle of
754, sometimes attributed to an author called Isidore Pacensis in reference to
the Battle of Tours fought against Muslim forces.
The European Union has also used Europa as a symbol of pan-Europeanism, notably
by naming its web portal after her, and depicting her on the Greek €2 coin and
on several gold and silver commemorative coins (e.g. the Belgian €10 European
Her name appeared on postage stamps celebrating the Council of Europe, which
were first issued in 1956.
The second series of euro banknotes is known as the Europa Series and bears her
likeness in the watermark and hologram.
For the record, from Lewis and Short:
Eurōpa, ae, and Eurōpe, ēs, f., = Εὐρώπη.
Daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor, sister of Cadmus, and mother of
Sarpedon and Minos by Jupiter, who, under the form of a bull, carried her off
to Crete, Ov. M. 2, 836 sq.; Hyg. Fab. 155; 178; nom. Europe, Hor. C. 3, 27,
25; 57; Prop. 2, 28, 52; gen. Europae, Mel. 2, 7, 12; acc.Europen, Ov. A. A. 1,
323; Juv. 8, 34: Europam, Varr. R. R. 2, 5, 5; Ov. H. 4, 55.— 2 Poet.
transf., the portico in the Field of Mars, which was adorned with a painting
representing the rape of Europa, Mart. 2, 14; 3, 20; cf. id. 11, 1.—
B Hence, Eurō-paeus, a, um, adj., of or belonging to Europa: dux, i. e.
Minos, Ov. M. 8, 23.—
The continent of Europe, named after her; usual form Europa, Mel. 1, 3, 1 et
saep.; Mart. Cap. 6, § 662; Plin. 3 prooem. § 3; 3, 1, 1, § 5; 4, 23, 37, § 121
et saepiss.: Europe, Mel. 1, 2, 1; 2, 1, 1; acc. Europen, id. 1, 1, 6; 2, 6, 9;
Hor. C. 3, 3, 47.—
B Derivv. 1 Eurōpaeus, a, um, adj., of or belonging to Europe,
European: adversarii, Nep. Eum. 3: Scythi, Curt. 7, 7, 2.— 2 Eurōpensis,
e, adj., the same: exercitus, Vop. Prob. 13: res, id. Aurel. 31.