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What is a Legend?
A legend is a story of human events passed down from generation to generation and which is perceived both emitter and receiver, as part of the story. The legend possesses qualities that give it some credibility, but to be transmitted by word of mouth, is changing and mixing with fantastic stories. Part of a legend is that it is told with the intention of making believe that it is a real event, but in reality, a legend is composed of traditional and not historical facts.
The term "legend" comes from the latin legenda, meaning "what is to be heard". Originally, it was a written narrative that was read in public at the celebrations of the festivals of the Saints. Since the 19th century, the legend is considered a synonym of the so-called popular tradition. As part of the literary genre, the legend is considered as a narration of fictional character with oral origin.
A legend has as a fundamental feature, that is oral in nature, i.e. is a spoken story which airs traditionally on a place, a people, a population. It also stands out in a legend, which designates specific places, which are part of the reality in its history. In addition, it relates to facts, places, monuments, people and communities. The facts reported in a normal legend, are transformed with the passing of the years, unless the legends are written, since they do not have that feature. Some legends begin and continue to be oral in nature, while others have the same origin but later passed to be written.
Although the legend has wonderful and fictitious stories, are normally based on reality, whether it be a person, a place, a natural phenomenon, etc. Thus, heroes, history, Saints, legends can be etc., giving the legend with the possibility of being religious, profane, popular or scholarly. Is this what the difference of the myth, which is relative, because the myth is essentially a tale of wonderful facts, with supernatural characters and that tries to explain the origin of things, answer questions related to the creation or the end of the world, etc. The legend, rather than explain something supernatural, is unveiled, in a striking way, the characteristics of a town, region, etc. It is this closeness with the culture of a particular place, what makes the legend part of folklore.
There are many legends that are specific to a country, city, region or town, but there are many others that are shared by all the world, with a specific source, but due to globalization, have become more popular. It is the case of legends like the island of Atlantis, the city of El Dorado, Robin Hood, King Arthur, the philosopher's stone, Beowulf, among others. Many legends have been the cause of finds by archaeologists, of cultures that for a long time were considered only a legend. It is the case of Troy and his famous war, Pompeii and its great destruction, among others.