MYTHS, LEGENDS, AND FOLKTALES: MAINLY- WHAT'S A MYTH?


What is a Legend?
Definition: A Legend is a non historical story handed down through generations and usually believed to have happened.
An examples of Legends would be St. Nicholas ( aka Santa Clause). It may have been based on a real person but the stories, movies, TV shows are very different form the actual people. Today kids write letters to Santa Clause in hopes of getting presents. He goes around to all the houses when everybody is asleep and puts presents under the Christmas tree for all the kids that have been good.




Folktales: What are they?
Folktales are like fairy tales or fables. Folktales are stories that are passed down orally, or by the mouth. Folktales are found all over the world, from many different countries. It is a traditional story that often teaches a lesson to the listeners where the heroes are rewarded and villains are punished. Folktales may vary from teller to teller, but the main idea always stays the same in the story. There are several different types of folktales including, religious folk tales, humorous folktales, animal folktales, and cumulative folktales. Folktales often take place in faraway imaginary lands and often have magic involved with them.
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EXAMPLE OF A FOLKTALE: The Harpist and the Princess
*This folktale originates from the country of Burma/Myanmar

This tale is about a young orphaned boy named Thi Hah. He lived in the city of Mandalay. Even though Thi Hah was poor; he played the harp with fine skill and charmed the hearts of listeners in the village. A magician called The Shwe grew jealous of Thi Hah's growing fame. The Shwe wanted his own son to become a famous harpist. To ensure that Thi Hah would not become famous, he cast a spell on Thi Hah to give him an ugly appearance. Boils appeared on his face. To hide; Thi Hah fled to the forest in order to not be seen. In order for the spell to be lifted, a princess would have to call Thi Hah her Maestro. Thi Hah was playing his harp in the forest one day when a princess named Yi Yi ventured into the forest. After becoming enchanted with Thi Hah's playing, she commanded her soldiers to find whoever was playing the harp. The soldiers found Thi Hah and was disgusted by his appearance. Thi Hah tried to decline but he had to obey the princess's orders. He came to the castle in a guise by covering himself head to toe in robes. After playing for the princess, he then proceeded to teach the princess how to play the harp. The princess played exceptionally well and asked the king to grant her to host a competition for all harpists in the kingdom and neighboring countries. The person who would beat the princess in the competition would be the one to marry her. The king complied, happy to give the princess a chance to find her suitor. On the day of the competition, many gathered to compete with the princess. Each one played but could not beat the princess. Thinking she had won the competition, Yi Yi stood up to receive ovation for her talent, but was cut short by the sweet melody of a song coming from a harp. Confused, she started playing against her unseen competitor to ensure her victory. As the song became more complex, the princess found that she could not beat her competitor. Standing up, she headed over to her competitor and admitted defeat. She acknowledged him as her maestro. Suddenly Thi Hah transformed into the handsome young man he used to be. Princess Yi Yi broke Thi Hah's curse as they were married happily ever after.
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This is an example of a folktale involving magic and a happy ending. Other examples of folktales can be found on the website in this link:
Folktales

Myths Compared to Legends and Folktales:


Myths, legends, and folktales all are types of stories that have things in common. All three types are fictitious tales that come from either imagination or created from a historical event. These three tales have a similar formula that follows a theme/pattern. The term for that would be called archetype. Myths, legends, and folktales always seem to take place in the past and are usually false. Legends can sometimes be proven true, but the other two types of stories are false. Legends and folktales both are stories past down from generation to generation. The difference between the two was that folktales were told orally and did not involve a historical character that might have been real. All types have in common that they belong to the aspect of tradition. It was tradition for these stories to be told and spread to others. Myths and folktales are similar because they both have a hero in the story that overcomes a task. Myths are different from legends and folktales because myths in the past were considered true stories while the others are mostly believed to be fake. Myths also have a religious aspect to them.
Definition of Archetype

Why the Stories About the Olympians are Myths:

The tales about the Olympians are classified as myths is because of religious elements found within them. The Olympians are the Greek Gods, and each story was based off of a hero born of a god/goddess and human or about a Greek god/goddess. Myths are stories about gods and goddesses from past civilizations and are considered not true. Gods and goddesses are considered supernatural begins and these stories fit within the myth category. (See myth definition below.)



Myths: What are they?
A traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.


EXAMPLE OF A MYTH: Zeus vs. Typhon

Typhon started destroying cities and hurling mountains in a fit of rage. All of the gods of Olympus fled to their home. Only Zeus stood firm, and the battle raged, ending when Zeus threw Mount Etna on top of Typhon, trapping him.The enemy of the Olympian god is described in detail as a vast grisly monster with a hundred serpent head "with dark flickering tongues" flashing fire from their eyes with many scary voices. The monster also had one hundred serpent legs, a feature shared by many monsters of Greek myths. The titanic struggle created earthquakes and a tsunami.Once conquered by Zeus' thunderbolts, Typhon was cast into Tartarus, the common destiny of many such enemies towards the Gods, or he was placed beneath Mount Aetna.


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What's the Difference?

Stories about the Olympians are myths, not legends or folktales because myths are based off a tradition or legend and have a deep symbolic meaning which will never change. Both legends and folk tales are passed down from person to person, allowing the story to develop new parts and characteristics. Every time a folk tale or a legend is told, it could be completely different from a previous version.


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