What Types of Legends Are There and Examples

A legend is a story that relates events of dubious veracity, set in real space and time, that is transmitted orally.

It is a diverse genre, present in most cultures and its classification depends on where it comes from and the theme it deals with.

Below we explain the types of legend that exist.

According to your place of origin

Urban legends

These are legends that are set in a more current era and that have a city as their setting. They count, as real events that are not, and whose dissemination, as if it were a rumor, made them urban legends.

Generally, its content is of a tragic or mysterious nature, although one can also find stories with a moral or didactic purpose.

One of the best known examples is the legend of the girl with the curve. It is said that a girl appears at night to drivers on a dangerous side road. Her mission is to warn of the danger of the curve in which she lost her life due to a traffic accident.

Rural legends

These stories, similar in content to the previous ones, have their context in cities and their vast fields, in solitary environments, such as forests and mountains, and take place in a time very distant from ours.

On the one hand, there is often a disastrous component with certain shades of terror, and on the other, the appearance of fabulous characters who inhabit these places.

The legend of the witches of Zugarramurdi He tells us about the encounters that took place in the caves and meadows of this municipality located in the Navarrese Pyrenees.

At these meetings, neighbors came together to practice witchcraft, summon spirits and cast spells. His powers could protect, sicken and even destroy or kill. From this story comes the term akelarre, which in Basque means goat meadow.

Local legends

These are stories that describe events in a specific place, or the exploits of historical figures to whom the site owes its fame. They are generally linked to the foundation of the place or to its major actions.

The legend of the river lethes It is a good example. He says everyone who has crossed the river has lost their memory.
One day, a group of Roman soldiers refused to cross the river for fear of being forgotten.

Their commander, to convince them that there was no danger, swam across the river and began calling them by name, thus ending the troop’s superstition.

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The Romans, in fact, stood in front of the Lima River and built a bridge that would eventually give the city its name.

According to your theme

Childhood legends

This type of legend is responsible for explaining certain events, giving lessons and morals to the little ones in a simple and interesting way. They usually deal with everyday issues, historical facts or lore in the form of short stories and, usually, through amusing characters.

The rainbow legend, for example, recounts that one day the colors were in dispute because each was considered more important than the others. One by one, they explained the reasons why their color was the most beautiful in the world.

The hubbub was such that the rain approached to find out what was happening. Hearing the argument led to a good fight, as all colors are important and should live in harmony. She ordered them to join hands and chase after her.

From that moment, when it stops raining and the sun rises, the rainbow appears, to show us the beauty behind fellowship and equality.

Etiological legends

They are responsible for giving humanity the answer to the how and why of the geographical features that make up their environment. They usually recount events distant in time and their characters can be varied, such as gods, kings, animals, etc. The real element is given by the place where the story takes place.

The legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl explains the love story that gave rise to the existence of these two volcanoes present in the Mexican geography.

Iztaccíhuatl, daughter of a famous cacique, fell in love with one of the warriors who fought alongside her father, Popocatépetl. The warrior was sent into battle with the promise of marrying the princess when he returned.

A suitor of the princess, jealous of her love, spread the rumor that Popocatépetl had been shot, which caused Iztaccihuatl to die of grief.

When, on his return, the warrior heard the disastrous news, he had a tomb built where he would watch over his beloved. There, in front of his corpse, by the light of a torch, Popocatépetl remained until he perished.

The gods, moved by such events, decided to turn them into volcanoes, face to face, so that they could be together forever.

Historical legends

It is the most realistic type of classification because they deal with real past events such as war conflicts. They also feature characters whose existence was real. Its aim is usually to exalt the fact, place or character in question through a conflict resolved favorably, although there are cases with a tragic outcome.

The legend of Guzmán, the Good It’s one of them. It recounts the exploits of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, a 13th century nobleman from Leone, who was ordered to defend the fortress of Tarifa against Muslim attacks.

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Unable to take the citadel, the enemies kidnapped Alonso’s youngest son, threatening to murder him if the father did not give up the fight.

Far from accepting such despicable blackmail, Alonso threw his dagger from the wall shouting “kill him with this if you’ve decided, I want honor without a son more than a son with my tarnished honor”.

The Muslims murdered the miner but the siege failed and Alonso received the nickname of Guzmán, el Bueno and the lordship of Sanlúcar.

Religious legends

Their main theme is the lives of saints and martyrs, which places us in a very distant time, even if this type of story was reinforced during the Middle Ages. Their purpose is to exalt the religion of which they are a part and sometimes to celebrate their triumph over evil.

In the legend of george and the dragon we find a kingdom submitted by a dragon to which animal and human sacrifices were offered to calm him down.

One day chance wanted the victim to feed the dragon to be the princess of the kingdom. About to be devoured by the beast, Jorge appeared on horseback in his heavy armor. After a fierce fight, he slew the dragon, saving the princess unscathed and ridding the kingdom of its threat.

From the ground bathed in the blood of the monster emerged a rosebush that Jorge offered to the princess. Jorge died as a martyr for defending Christianity and was later canonized.

Moral legends

They are stories that offer a lesson in values ​​and behaviors through conflict. The protagonist finds two possible paths to follow and usually chooses the right one, the path of virtue. Good again triumphs over evil, but from a more ethical than religious perspective.

The legend of The dog and Kakasbal introduces us to a miserable man who constantly abused his dog. Kakasbal, a demon expert in deception, decided to try to take advantage of the injustice that the dog suffered.

He approached the animal to convince him to leave his owner but the dog refused because his loyalty came first. Several times he insisted until the dog, to stop his efforts, confessed that he had convinced him. Kakasbal asked for his soul in exchange for a wish, and the dog wished for a bone for every hair that covered his body.

The demon began to count them. About to be done with it, the dog remembered that he owed loyalty to his master and made Kakasbal count for nothing. He repeated this trick until the demon noticed it and stopped counting, assuming the lesson the animal had taught him, since it is easier to corrupt the soul of a man than the soul of a dog.

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Eschatological legends

They deal with issues related to life after death, so we are faced with a kind of chilling legend. One of the most present and least resolved existential doubts of earthly life, perhaps because the witnesses do not come back to talk about it.
All this makes this type of legend present in the tradition of many cultures.

the legend of holy company takes us to Galicia in the Middle Ages. There, a procession of lost souls marches during the night, coloring the places where it passes with mist and fear.

It is led by the cross-bearer, still alive, chosen and condemned to wander until his death or until another unfortunate person carries the cross in his place. Lit by the candles carried by each of the specters, they leave in their wake a sinister smell of wax.

His presence predicts death, either by appearing to one who is about to die, or by visiting the houses where a sick soul was about to die.

Legends of the sea

This category arises from the uncertainty that the sea generates for men, due to its extension, its unpredictable and indomitable behavior, the beings that can inhabit its depths and the ships that it can lead to its shores.

the legend of Captain Morgan chronicles the plunder of Welsh sailor Henry Morgan during the golden age of piracy in the Caribbean. Many Spanish ships were hijacked, although their greatest exploit was the sacking of Panama, the wealthiest of cities at the time.

Once he got the loot, he traveled to San Andrés Island to hide it in a cave now known as Morgan’s Cave. The inhabitants of the island claim that the treasure is still there hidden under the water and will be visible when it evaporates.

Horror legends

They relate macabre events, apparitions, strange phenomena, tragic events that cause an early or traumatic death to the protagonists. The characters and location are usually real, and the distortion is reflected in the event it is about, which is usually made up, exaggerated, or simply distorted in its transmission.

It is therefore in the legend of Dracula, which places us in 15th century Transylvania. Vlad Draculea, Prince of Wallachia, known as Vlad Tepes, lived there because of the cruelty with which he treated his enemies, whom he tortured and condemned to death. This character was a source of inspiration for the novel that ended up forging the legend and spreading it around the world.