Myths and Legends: Journeys Through Time

Myth or legend? How does one define a story as a myth or a legend? Why do we say “The

legend of King arthur” and “Greek mythology” instead of  “The myth of King arthur and

Greek legends”? Myth and legend are synonyms for each other. They can be used

interchangeably but is this correct? In some cases yes it is. In other no. Myth and legend are

like first cousins as opposed to siblings. A legend is defined as one of several things; A group

of stories relating to a particular group, people or clan such as the Native American legends. A

collection of stories such as the Legend of King arthur and Excalibur, the person at the center

of such stories like King arthur or the story telling of the life of a saint and emphasizing the

miracles that the saint preformed or their unrecorded deeds. A myth on the other hand is

defined as an invented story, idea or concept such as “John’s story about his character

Meliate is nothing but myth.” This is considered a myth since he came up with it himself, a

story about gods, demigods,and goddess, a traditional story of a being or event that has no

factual basis or the facts are very questionable. A myth is also defined as an imaginary person

or thing. To break it down in layman’s terms, a myth is usually a traditional story passed down

from generation to generation, and is usually about a being that has incredible powers, has

done something  amazing or an event that was simply magical. A legend on the other hand is

a story about somebody that might possibly have a grain of truth in it but has been greatly

exaggerated. If that’s still confusing think of it like this. Myths are timeless and change very

little. Roman and Greek myth are about the same. Egyptian myth has many similarities to

Norse myth and so on. Legend on the other hand…legend tends to be a little more logical

and a little more modern. As stated before legend might have a grain of truth in it while

the rest has been greatly exaggerated. It’s quite logical that in the early sixth century, there

may have been a person that was honorable, fought valiantly to save his country from

invaders, killed a great number of invaders and had a tragic romance. Perhaps that happened

and as word of this person spread, some things were misheard repeatedly differently and

minor details grew into impossible lengths, covering one grain of truth in many layers

of mystery and magic, eventually turning that person into the legend we know as King arthur.

Myths…myths generally don’t change much. Most mythology has beings that have unlimited

powers, unending lifespans, incredible knowledge, amazing strength, flawless beauty, and

great enemies. These myths also usually have these same beings assigned to similar areas

of expertise such as wisdom, war, love, marriage, hate, death and so on. Also they have one

being that is ruler above all other, somebody constantly trying to gain that position and

beings older then the ones being talked about, that were overthrown. Essentiall..90% of

myths sound or are similar whereas 90% of legends sound similar but have different aspects

and key points. As was stated earlier, myth and legend are more like first cousins than

siblings. They’re related pretty closely but vary widely in how they’re defined. Just

remember this. Legends are usually more logical and modern. Myths are usually

ancient or timeless, and focus more so on people being helped by powerful beings or

being powerful beings themselves.