Le Taureau blanc (The White Bull) is one of the last philosophical tales published in Voltaire’s lifetime. In the form of a historic tale, Le Taureau blanc aims directly at the Bible, and therefore Christianity and religion in general as well. True to the Enlightenment belief in rational enquiry and his personal tendency to Deism, Voltaire specifically targets the Garden of Eden myth and denounces a God that would forbid knowledge to humanity.
The story is based on the Greek tale of Europa and the bull, where the white bull is in fact the Greek god Zeus. Voltaire embeds himself in the tale in the form of the wise Mambrès.
The tale is set in Egypt. A young princess is in love with a prince, but her father, who is his rival, has forbidden her to utter his name. She meets a beautiful White Bull led by an old woman and feels immediately attracted to the animal. Believing she is bewitched her father orders the old woman and the bull to be sacrificed.