Difference Between Myth vs Legend

Difference Between Myth vs Legend

Everyone loves a good story, be it fiction or not. It is understandable when a storyteller has to employ some form of real-life experiences or imaginations to form an interesting tale, but there are others that are not based on experiences and imaginations. Such tales are the basis of the cultural and religious beliefs of a group of people.

In this post, we will be talking about two distinct forms of stories, specifically, the difference between legend and myth. These two come quite close in meaning. For instance, scholars refer to them as tools for the preservation of culture from one generation to another, but there are some differences you should be aware of if you must use these terms accurately.

Definition of Myth

Myth is defined as fiction aimed at clarifying life like how it originated, works, and how it should be handled. Note that the term “life” in this definition refers to everything from the existence of human beings, plants, animals, the world, natural events like earthquakes, spirits, death, and so on. This term has a Greek origin, derived from the word “mythos,” which literally translates to “thought, speech, or story.”

What makes a “myth” different from other forms of stories? To answer this question, we will reference one of the oldest widely-known myths on earth today – the story of creation. If you remember this story, regardless of version, then you would agree that it has the following qualities.

  • Explaining natural events that were beyond natural human comprehension at the time. The tale about creation explained how the first man and woman came to be, the animals, plants, and skies, water bodies, and so on.
  • Preserves the history of a people and that of every other generation after them. This history, more often than not, explains how and why certain events took place. For example, how the world started with the first man and woman – Adam and Eve.
  • There is usually no evidence to prove certain events and characters involved. They are usually based on real facts.

In a legend vs myth comparison, scholars presumed that the latter can be likened to ancient science, which is drastically different from what is obtainable today but played a huge role in scientific revolutions.

Definition of Legend

A legend is defined as a tale about real life people that went through tough challenges and accomplished outstanding deeds in life. This definition sounds like it is referring to non-fiction, but in some cases, these stories are known to have some elements of fiction in them. Whatever be the case, this form of tale always has an important purpose expected to serve as the moral.

Just to make it a little more interesting, the writer or storyteller may decide to exaggerate the facts, which is where the element of fiction comes in.

There are a lot of features that show the difference between myth and legend. For instance, some of the characters involved in the former are supernatural beings – gods, demigods, and supernatural creations, while the ones involved in the latter are real life people.

Main Differences Between Myth vs Legend

Now that you know the difference between these two in terms of definition, let us take a more detailed look at how they are different from one another.

Basis of ComparisonMythLegend
DefinitionFiction aimed at demystifying life, its origin, how it works, and how it should be handledA tale about real life people that accomplished outstanding feats in life
CharactersSupernatural characters involvedHistorical figures
EvidenceNoneSome evidence involved
ThemeExplaining unnatural phenomenon through symbols and figures of speechTeaches how certain person historically overcame certain obstacles

Difference Between Myth and Legend: Conclusion

Stories will continue to be a part of human existence. They have helped to preserve the origin, culture, and identity of different people. They were handed over from generation to generation, and as such, may have little alterations as a result, but the moral of these stories remains the same.

In conclusion, in the myth vs legend comparison, we deduced that the latter mostly focused on humans that have achieved great feats while the former usually involves humans and other supernatural beings.