The gods’ transformations tend to symbolically fit their personal motives behind each of the ventures that entail them. When a god wishes to observe and judge humans, he takes a shape that blends in well with them, as Zeus and Hermes did in their journey to judge the world of man (Ovid VIII). In this case, the pair travels as human beggars, which reflects their desire to blend in to human society: beggars are relatively low profile, easily melting into the bustling activity around them. More obvious than this type of transformation, though, is deceptive transformation: in order to disguise various personal motives, gods, especially Zeus, change their forms to a wide variety of animals, creatures, and other inanimate objects in their efforts to follow their personalities and wills. The most frequently occurring motive for these transformations is lust for mortals, and the most frequent offender is Zeus. As Arachne’s tapestry depicts, the Greek gods often descended from Mount Olympus to have their way with mortals. Zeus in particular did this quite frequently; to name a few, the king of the gods became a bull to chase Europa, a shower of gold to court Danaë, and an eagle and a prince to lay with Semele. These many forms each fit into their respective stories in one way or another, but the sheer number and variety of forms that Zeus is willing to take on just to promote his various mortal affairs speaks for itself. His brother, too, exhibited this rampant desire for mortal relations in his conquest of Theophane: transforming her into a sheep and himself into a ram, Poseidon so desperately desired her that he fathered a ram, rather than a human, as a son. The gods’ immense lust does not end here; both Zeus and Poseidon carry with them extremely long lists of offspring, with as many mothers and strange circumstances of birth. Yet more alarmingly, a great fraction of Poseidon’s children appear as monsters in Greek heroic mythology: evidently, the sea god transformed into much more than simply animals to spawn such offspring as Charybdis, Triton, and the Cyclopes (Pease 79-82). These monstrous children indicate an incredible amount of animal and monstrous transformations on Poseidon’s part, displaying his unbridled desire for offspring and pleasure in any shape or form.

The Greek gods’ broad scale intercourse with mortal beings is subject to varying interpretation. As the mortal Arachne seems to imply through her weaving, many of the Greek gods have a raging, unquenchable thirst for mortals of all kinds (Oliensis 287). Despite this rampant bestiality, though, Greek mythology still holds the gods, including the greatest offenders, Zeus and Poseidon, in highest honor. This could indicate that the Greeks were relatively open-minded to sexuality of all types, since they portrayed their gods, who should represent their societal ideals, in such an openly lustful light. Oliensis supports this assertion that the Greeks, represented by Arachne, were open to and even supported this “abundant vitality”(Oliensis 290), though the virgin goddess Athena in particular may have shunned it. Open relationships were a peculiar part of Greek culture: though standard heterosexual relations were deemed necessary for procreation, various other forms of love, most significantly homosexual love of teacher and student, were encouraged and often celebrated in Greek society. This being the case, it is inherently likely that the myriad of divine and mortal affairs serve to celebrate Greek sexual openness.

Alternatively, the gods’ lust could indicate that everything, including the gods, contains imperfections. The Greeks imbued a great degree of humanity in their gods, especially in those gods’ emotions. The human sides of the gods are evident in nearly all Greek myths involving mortal and immortal interactions. Whether the mortals tempt, please, or enrage the god in question, the Greek gods respond with predictable, humanlike actions. These often petty squabbles between mortal and immortal set Greek mythological figures apart from those of other religions: while the gods of most belief systems tend to be perfect, transcendent beings, those of the Greeks seem more down to earth and human in personality. Faultless gods are used in religion as moral role models, by which the heads of the religions judge the actions of humans. By giving their gods flaws, though, the Greeks demonstrate that perfection is a quality that cannot be achieved, even by immortals, and that shortcomings should be accepted for what they are.