What Are The Differences Between Myth And Legend?

There are differences between myth and legend , their content and their scope in society. These stories are about various topics, places, people, events, and things. Some are based on real characters, while others have fictional elements and supernatural elements, such as special powers, magic, and sorcery.

In each region there is its own culture, with beliefs, religion and stories that have been transmitted through oral tradition from one generation to another, known as myths and legends.

Main differences between myth and legend

These stories are known as myths and legends, and they have different characteristics and styles as we will see below.

Definitions myth and legend


The word myth comes from the Greek word “mythos”, which means history, speech or reflection. It was used for the first time in 1830 in English, referring to a story about divine beings that is linked to religious matters.

The myth is a story about how a religious belief came into existence, through the use of symbols in narration. The myth has no intention of connecting with reality or the present.

It is a story related to the lives and actions of gods and supernatural forces, with the intention of delivering a moral lesson to the people who read it. The myths are considered sacred and true, and are affirmed by leaders and leaders.

They are about people, places and events that occurred in the distant past, which usually tells us the story of how some events and beliefs were born. It is used to explain why something exists.

Some exclusive characteristics of the myth is that it evokes the presence of the mystery, the Sacred and the Unknown; it has formative structures of dualities (good / bad, light / dark) that appear in the form of characters; its plot involves communication between two worlds (material / supernatural, primal world / current world); the characters are not human (gods, first men, supernatural beings, etc.); recounts events that defy natural laws; among other.

Mythology is the study of myths, or a collection of myths of a culture.


The word legend comes from the Latin “legere”, which means to read. The use of the noun has been in use since the early 17th century, in the Middle Ages . A legend is a story that has some reality and has been passed from person to person through oral tradition, due to the importance of its symbolism in the culture to which it belongs.

The legend – unlike the myth – includes some realistic elements, is based on historical facts, but retains its ” mythical qualities “. Legends often involve heroic people or fantastic places. It also has as an element some spiritual beliefs that are also part of that culture.

It is usually a traditional story and a historical record of events of people from very ancient times. Although it probably cannot be verified, it is accepted and becomes a popular item in members of later generations.

Legends are used to teach people about virtues important to society such as loyalty for example, in times of war and other difficulties.

Legends are the story of real people who stayed strong. The presence of super powers and their battles with life, fate, oppression, and powerful enemies may also be included.

Currently, the word legend is used to refer to a person who has an inspiring life story and achievement. Today’s legends are created with the help of the media and their protagonists are “modern heroes”, that is, people who belong to the world of excellent sports, the entertainment industry – such as singers, dancers, directors, actors, etc. – and those who have achieved success in business thanks to their effort and perseverance.

Important differences between myths and legends

Myths and legends are difficult to classify, because they are many times greater than their origin. This happens because they start from an event that occurred in remote times, which had a symbolism and a meaning for the generations of that time. This is why its historical relevance becomes much more important than the facts themselves.

At the moment of wanting to verify it, the story already has a life of its own and surpassed the real events of the original event, which at this moment become irrelevant since the message is much more important.

The myth is strongly linked to religion and its protagonists are deities and supernatural beings that explain beliefs; Unlike the legend that is a story of real people based or not on a historical fact, places or events that occurred in an ancestral past.

Myths and legends in history

Some historically famous legends are the legends of Robin Hood, Bigfoot, Beowulf, and of course, the legends of King Arthur, to name a few of them.

However, there are also legends that are also part of a small community, as people who have marked the lives of many others.

A teacher for a small school, a doctor in a community, can also be a legend for their actions and dedication. In this case they can become a “living legend”.

Myths, for their part, can be divine myths, which are related to the gods, creation, cosmic phenomena, as all the worldviews of the first cultures tend to be.

They are very present in Greek mythology, which was not only expressed through words, but also through artistic representations such as sculptures, vessels, painted frescoes and others.

Some of the most representative Greek myths are the myth of Hercules, the myth of Zeus, the myth of Demeter and Persephone, the myth of Perseus and Medusa, among many others. In all these myths we find topics such as the creation of the world, the cause of rain, thunder or the seasons of the year.

The characters of the myth are always characters are deities, who are also related to human affairs such as Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty; Zeus, the father of the gods and ruler of heaven, laws, destiny, and the weather; to name a few.

Other characters that are called “mythical” are supernatural beings such as mermaids, pegasi, centaurs, minotaurs, dragons, cyclops, among others.


  1. Difference between legend and myth. Recovered from differencebetween.net
  2. What are myths, legends and folktales? Recovered from myths.e2bn.org
  3. What is Myth. Mary Magoulik. Recovered from faculty.gcsu.edu.
  4. Myth Story Examples. Recovered from examples.yourdictionary.com.

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