So far the peculiar mark of the wilder American tribe legends is the bestial character of the divine beings, which is also illustrated in Australia and Africa, while the bestial clothing, feathers or fur, drops but slowly off Indra, Zeus and the Egyptian Ammon, and the Scandinavian Odin.
Among the lowest races the culture-hero commonly wears a bestial guise, is a spider (Melanesia), an eagle hawk (in some myths and south-east Australia), a coyote (north-west America), a dog or raven (Thlinkeet), a mantis insect (Bushman), and so forth, yet is endowed with human or even super-human qualities, and often shades off into a permanent and practically deathless god.
Men ask themselves why their gods are worshipped in the form of beasts, birds, and fishes; why their gods are said to have prosecuted their amours in bestial shapes; why they are represented as lustful and passionate - thieves, robbers, murderers and adulterers.
From these sources come almost all the more inhuman, bestial and discreditable myths of the gods.
There was something horrible and bestial in the fleeting glance they threw at the riders and in the malevolent expression with which, after a glance at Kutuzov, the soldier with the sores immediately turned away and went on with what he was doing.
We may indeed with Mr Andrew Lang explain the many myths of the bestial transformations of Zeus on the theory that the God was the tribal ancestor and assumed the shape of the animal-totem in order to engender the tribal patriarch; 7 but on the actual cults of Zeus theriomorphism has left less trace than on those.
Of so dissolute a life that, although married, he had children by several mistresses at the same time, he gave vent to all his passions with a ferocity that was bestial rather than human.