The Stuff of Myths and Legends

by Serina Bland, age 11

When myths and legends are passed verbally from generation to generation, we call that an oral tradition.

Legends are usually about people who lived and made an impact on those around them. There are different kinds of legends: historical, personal, supernatural, modern and contemporary. A historical legend is based on stories during historical times. Personal legends are events in a person’s life. Supernatural legends include ghosts, haunted houses, werewolves or people who rise from the dead. Dracula is a example of a supernatural legend. Dracula is obviously not real, but his character is based on a real person named Romanian Price who lived in the 1400’s. Modern legends can be in newspapers, on television, or on the internet.

Myths arose when people needed an explanation about the world around them. For example, in New Zealand, the Maori people had a myth about how animals argued if it was better to live on land or in the sea. Unable to come up with an agreement, some land animals went to the sea to become fish, while others lived on land. This myth explains why there are both fish and animals on earth. Myths, cause stories to become misunderstood, eventually changing the story.

A mythology is a collection of myths that contain the same group of gods or characters. Greek mythology is a example. Some of the gods include: Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war; Zeus, the king of gods, god of the sky and justice; and Poseidon, the god of waters, horses and earthquakes.

Although myths and other kinds of fairytales are believed to be fiction, they are still a source of hope and wisdom for many people.

[Source: Scholastic Children’s Encyclopedia]