Legend – Concept, characteristics, elements, types and examples

Legend – We explain what a legend is, its characteristics, elements and differences with a myth. In addition, types of legends and various examples.

A legend is a story or narrative that is passed down through generations and serves to explain a particular phenomenon or event. Legends often contain elements of truth, but they are usually exaggerated or embellished over time.

Legends can be used to explain natural phenomena, such as the origin of a river or mountain, or to explain the history of a particular place or event. Legends can also be used to explain the origins of certain customs or beliefs.

What is a legend?

A legend is a story that tells human or supernatural facts, which is transmitted from generation to generation orally or in writing within a family, clan or town. The legends relate facts and events related to the country, popular heroes, imaginary creatures and souls.

Despite the fact that they contain supernatural, miraculous events and fictitious creatures, legends are considered by many people as true stories, since they try to explain a phenomenon and are usually located in a known geographical place and in a certain period of history.

Usually the legends are related to the traditional popular culture of the towns. Some are very old, so they mutated as they were transmitted orally. In these stories, the deepest feelings of a community, its environment, its religiosity and its identity can be traced. What is it Ecosystem?

Characteristics of a legend

  • It has its origin in the oral tradition.
  • It is transmitted from generation to generation.
  • It focuses on a main character.
  • It is set in a specific time and place.
  • It is based on natural or supernatural facts.
  • Part of a specific historical fact or event.
  • It includes elements of reality and fantasy elements.
  • Try to explain a phenomenon.
  • It can be taken as a true narrative.
  • It transforms through time and can have several versions.
  • It is part of the culture of different peoples.
  • Conveys ideas or values.
  • Its main objective is to make sense of a society or culture.

Types of legends

types of legends
Religious legends narrate the lives of saints and martyrs.

According to the theme:

  • Religious legends: They recount the lives of saints and great vigilante characters.
  • Eschatological legends: They tell stories that refer to life after death.
  • Etiological legends: They explain how the different elements that make up nature were created, they are common in indigenous culture.

According to its origin:

  • Local legends: They are autochthonous stories typical of a region or province.
  • Rural legends: These are stories that are developed and transmitted in the countryside.
  • Urban legends: These are stories that are known today and are valid.

elements of a legend

  • Context: It is narrated in a specific time and space.
  • Plot: It has an argument and is a narrative with an introduction, a middle and an outcome or moral.
  • Narrator: Recounts in third person all the action.
  • Characters: It is usually carried out by a main character, human or not, and has few secondary characters.
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examples of legends

the crybaby

Legend has it that in the year 1500, a young mestizo girl, the daughter of a Spaniard and a native of the New World, fell in love with a Spanish captain, with whom she conceived two children. In time, the captain married a Spanish woman, and in a fit of madness, the first woman stabbed her two children to death. With bloody hands, she went out into the street crying and screaming.

La llorona is one of the most widespread legends in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. This character usually appears in rivers, and the people who live in the surrounding areas affirm that at night they can be heard crying.

The Loch Ness Monster

Legend has it that a beast similar to a whale exists in the waters of Loch Ness (located 270 km from Edinburgh in Scotland). The legend has its antecedents in the 6th century, but it was not until the end of the 19th century that newspapers began to spread the news and the legend gained international fame.

On one occasion, the animal was sighted by a couple who were driving near the shore of the lake, the news was reported by the Inverness Courier newspaper, who gave the creature the name “monster”.

From there, the story took a course in the media, multiple investigations were carried out, and many people claimed to have seen the monster.

Robin Hood

It is one of the most popular legends in the world set in medieval times in England. The story goes that Robin Hood was the leader of a band of bandits who lived in Sherwood Forest, who stole from nobles to give to those who had less.

The character represents the archetype of the hero and his story was taken to the theater, literature and cinema and is part of popular culture.

Legend of Romulus and Remus

This classic legend recounts the founding of Rome by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. During their childhood, the brothers were abandoned in a basket in the Tiber River, and fed by a wolf, Luperca.

Due to a dispute, Romulus killed Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BC.

The abominable snowman

This legend is part of the cultural tradition of Tibet and Nepal and refers to a giant ape that lives in the mountains. Those who defend the existence of this creature, also known as “Yeti”, assure that it lives in forest areas of the Himalayas.

Various investigations have been devoted in recent decades to the analysis of footprints and bone remains attributed to this creature.

Legend of Saint George and the Dragon

Legend has it that in a town in the Roman Empire there was a dragon that the inhabitants fed with lambs. There was a time when animals were scarce so people were sent to feed the beast.

When it was the turn of the king’s daughter, Saint George came with his horse and with his sword he killed the dragon and from the blood sprouted a rose that he gave to the princess.

Saint George was beheaded by the Diocletian government after a persecution of Christians and is one of the martyrs of the Christian religion. The legend became popular from the Middle Ages.

The curse of the College of Engineering

The current Faculty of Engineering of the University of Buenos Aires began to be built in 1912 under the orders of the engineer Arturo Prins who wanted to build the most surprising neo-Gothic building in the city.

In 1938, when the first stage of construction had already been completed, work mysteriously stopped. Some spoke that the costs had exceeded the budget and others that the plans had a miscalculation that, if the work continued, it would end in a collapse.

Prins died a year later and gossips claim that he committed suicide for not having endured the mistake made. From that moment on, no one else was encouraged to continue the building that is on Las Heras avenue, in the Recoleta neighborhood, imposing and unfinished.

legend and myth

The term “legend” is often used as a synonym for “myth”, and although both are narratives used to explain natural or supernatural phenomena, there are certain aspects that differentiate them:

  • Veracity: Legends can be taken as true stories by some people but are known to be fiction, while myths can only be originated if they were considered true within the context of a culture or religion. However, in other cultures myths are considered fiction, as is the case today with Greek mythology. On the other hand, the legends are based on facts of reality that were experienced or observed and to which an explanation is attempted, they can also be based on supernatural or imaginary events but that are conceived as real.
  • Shape: Legends tend to change shape over time, while myths are more specific and finished narratives.
  • Protagonist: The legends have as their protagonist men or animals that are believed to exist or existed in reality, while in myths the protagonists are heroes, gods or demigods that did not exist.
  • Context: The legends are placed in a recognizable context, they are located in a specific place and at a precise historical moment. Myths are usually located in places and past times that are difficult to recognize.

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Hello, I am Sunny Yadav. I am a writer and content creator. Through my blog, I intend to create simple and easy to understand content that will teach you how to start your online journey!

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