Shawna Lynn Cox

Legend – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“legend (Latin, legenda, “things to be read””

“a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude”

“includes no happenings that are outside the realm of “possibility” but which may include miracles”

“Legends may be transformed over time, in order to keep it fresh and vital, and realistic”

“legends operate within the realm of uncertainty, never being entirely believed by the participants, but also never being resolutely doubted”

“Brothers Grimm defined legend as folktale historically grounded. A modern folklorist’s professional definition of legend was proposed by Timothy R. Tangherlini in 1990:

Legend, typically, is a short (mono-) episodic, traditional, highly ecotypified historicized narrative performed in a conversational mode, reflecting on a psychological level a symbolic representation of folk belief and collective experiences and serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs.””

“Legend is a loanword from Old French that entered English usage circa 1340. The Old French noun legende derives from the Medieval Latin legenda. In its early English-language usage, the word indicated a narrative of an event.”

“legend gained its modern connotations of “undocumented” and “spurious”, which distinguish it from the meaning of chronicle”

“The narrative content of legend is in realistic mode, rather than the wry irony of folktale”

“in spite of its realistic mode, legend is not more historical than folktale”

“(1928), Ernst Bernheim asserted that a legend is simply a longstanding rumour”

“Gordon Allport credited the staying-power of some rumours to the persistent cultural state-of-mind that they embody and capsulise; thus “Urban legends” are a feature of rumour”

“Because saints’ lives are often included in many miracle stories, legend, in a wider sense, came to refer to any story that is set in a historical context but that contains supernatural or fantastic element”

“In the narrow Christian sense, legenda (“things to be read [on a certain day, in church]”) were hagiographical accounts, often collected in a legendary”

“Legends are tales that, because of the tie to a historical event or location, are believable, though not necessarily believed”

“he truth value of legends is irrelevant because, whether the story told is true or not, the fact that the story is being told at all allows scholars to use it as commentary upon the cultures that produce or circulate the legends”

“Hippolyte Delehaye, (in his Preface to The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography, 1907) distinguished legend from myth: “The legend, on the other hand, has, of necessity, some historical or topographical connection. It refers imaginary events to some real personage, or it localizes romantic stories in some definite spot.””

“Legend may be transmitted orally, passed on person-to-person, or, in the original sense, through written text.”

SLC comment: Important story structure and platform / publishing concept


“Jacob de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea or “The Golden Legend” comprises a series of vitae or instructive biographical narratives, tied to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. They are presented as lives of the saints, but the profusion of miraculous happenings and above all their uncritical context are characteristics of hagiography. The Legenda was intended to inspire extemporized homilies and sermons appropriate to the saint of the day”

“”The Vanishing Hitchhiker” is the most popular and well-known American legend. The traditional tale type involves a young girl in a white dress picked up alongside of the road by a passerby. The unknown girl in white remains silent for the duration of her ride, thanks the driver, and quietly gets out at her destination. When the driver turns to look back, the girl has vanished. Often, a third character is included at the destination to add further suspicion to the girl’s existence by informing the driver that no one has been seen all night. “The Vanishing Hitchhiker” and stories like it, display the fears and anxieties of a particular social group. For example, the hitchhiking tale speaks to America’s fascination with the road and also the anxieties inherent to traveling”

SLC comment: Interesting story point


“Examples of famous legends[edit]


The founding of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital

Cenodoxus, or the Damnation of the Good Doctor of Paris, told as an event justifying the sanctification of St Bruno

Celtic Legends

Don Juan

El Dorado

Fountain of Youth

Holy Grail

Helen of Troy and the Trojan War

Legends of Africa

Crimean legends

Loch Ness Monster


Philosopher’s stone

Robin Hood


Táin Bó Flidhais

Vlad the Impaler; stories of his cruelty have attained legendary status, most likely spread after his death by his enemies.

William Tell”

SLC comment: Legends to Research for possible story points.

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