Types of Legends

A legend is a story that narrates events of doubtful veracity, located in a real space and time, which is transmitted orally.

It is a diverse genre, present in most cultures and its classification depends on the place where it originates and the theme it addresses.

Here we explain the types of legend that exist.

According to your place of origin

Urban legends

They are legends that are located in a more current era and are set in a city. They count, as real events that they are not, and whose diffusion, as if it were a rumor, is what makes them urban legends.

Generally, its content is of a tragic or mysterious nature, although we can also find stories for moral or educational purposes.

One of the best known examples is the legend of the girl on the curve . It is said that a girl appears at night to drivers on a dangerous secondary road. Her mission is to warn of the danger posed by 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 the villages and their extensive fields, in solitary environments, such as forests and mountains, and are framed in a time far from ours.

It is frequent, on the one hand, the fatal component with certain shades of terror and, on the other, the appearance of fabulous characters that inhabit those places.

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

In these meetings the neighbors congregated to practice witchcraft, invoke 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 the goat’s meadow.

Local legends

They are stories that describe events in a specific place, or the deeds of historical figures to whom the site owes its fame. They are generally related to the foundation of the place or its great deeds.

The legend of the River Lethes is a good example. He says that everyone who crossed the river 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 to call them by name, thus ending the superstition of the troops.

The Romans, in reality, were in front of the Lima River and built a bridge that would end up giving the town its name.

According to its theme

Children’s legends

This type of legend is in charge of explaining certain facts, providing lessons and morals for the little ones in a simple and interesting way. They usually cover everyday problems, historical events or traditions in the form of short stories and, generally, through funny characters.

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

Such was the hubbub that the rain came closer to find out what was happening. Hearing the dispute gave them a good fight, because all colors are important and have to live in harmony. She ordered them to hold her hand and go after her.

From that moment, when the rain stops and the sun rises, the rainbow appears, to show us the beauty behind companionship and equality.

Etiological legends

They are in charge of giving humanity the answer of how and why the geographical accidents that make up their environment exist. They usually narrate distant events 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 Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl explains the love story that gave rise to the existence of these two volcanoes present in the Mexican geography.

Iztaccíhuatl, daughter of a famous chieftain, fell in love with one of the warriors who fought alongside her father, Popocatepetl. The warrior was sent to fight with the promise to marry the princess upon his return.

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

When, on his return, the warrior learned the dire news, he had a burial mound built where he would watch over his beloved. There, in front of his corpse, by the light of a torch, Popocatepetl remained until he perished.

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

Historical legends

This is the most realistic type of classification, as they address actual past events such as war conflicts. They are also starring characters whose existence was real. Its objective is usually to praise the event, place or character in question through a conflict resolved in a favorable way, although there are cases whose outcome is tragic.

The legend of Guzmán, el Bueno is one of them. It recounts the exploits of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, a nobleman from León from the 13th century, who was ordered to defend the fortress of Tarifa from the attack of the Muslims.

Unable to take the citadel, the enemies kidnapped Alonso’s youngest son, threatening to assassinate him if the father did not yield in the fight.

Far from agreeing to such vile blackmail, Alonso threw his dagger from the wall while shouting “kill him with that one if you have so determined, what more do I want honor without a son, what a son with my stained honor”.

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

Religious legends

Their main theme is the life of the saints and martyrs, which places us in a very distant time, although this type of stories gained solidity during the Middle Ages. Their goal is to exalt the religion of which they are a part and at times celebrate their triumph over evil.

In the legend of George and the dragon we find a kingdom subjugated by a dragon to which animal and human sacrifices were offered to keep it calm.

One day by chance, the victim who fed the dragon was the princess of the kingdom. About to be eaten by the beast, Jorge appeared on horseback in his imposing armor. After a violent fight, he killed the dragon, rescuing the princess unscathed and ridding the kingdom of its threat.

A rose bush emerged from the earth bathed in the monster’s blood, which Jorge gave to the princess. Jorge died as a martyr for defending Christianity and was later canonized.

Moral legends

They are stories that offer a lesson about values ​​and behavior through conflict. The protagonist finds two possible paths to follow and, generally, chooses the correct one, the path of virtue. Good over evil triumphs again, but from an ethical rather than a religious perspective.

The legend of The Dog and Kakasbal presents us with a miserable man who constantly mistreated his dog. Kakasbal, a demon expert in deception, decided to try to take advantage of the injustice that the dog was experiencing.

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

The demon started to count them. About to finish, the dog remembered that he owed fidelity to his master and moved so that Kakasbal lost count. He repeated this ruse until the demon noticed and stopped counting, assuming the lesson the animal had taught him, for it is easier to corrupt the soul of a man than the soul of a dog.

Eschatological legends

They deal with what is related to life after death, so we are dealing with a kind of ghostly legend. One of the most present and least resolved existential doubts in earthly life, perhaps because the witnesses do not return to tell it.
All this makes this type of legend is present in the tradition of many cultures.

The legend of the Santa Compaña takes us to Galicia in the Middle Ages. There a procession of souls in pain, walks during the night staining with fog and fear the places where it passes.

It is directed by the bearer of the cross, still alive, chosen and condemned to wander until he dies or until another unfortunate man carries the cross in his place. Lit by the candles that each one of the spectra carry, they leave a sinister smell of wax in their wake.

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

Marine legends

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

The Legend of Captain Morgan chronicles the looting of the Welsh sailor Henry Morgan during the golden age of Caribbean piracy. Numerous Spanish ships were embezzled, although their greatest feat was the looting of Panama, the richest of the cities of the time.

Once he obtained the loot, he went to the island of San Andrés to hide it in a cave that today is known as Morgan’s cave. The inhabitants of the island maintain that the treasure remains hidden there 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. Both the characters and the location are usually real and the distortion is reflected in the event it is about, which is usually invented, exaggerated or simply distorted in its transmission.

This is the case in the legend of Dracula, which places us in 15th century Transylvania. There lived Vlad Dráculea, prince of Wallachia, known as Vlad Tepes, for the cruelty with which he treated his enemies whom he tortured and condemned to die. This character was inspiring for the novel that finished forging the legend and spread it throughout the world.