Legends are sometimes just stories that are passed down from generation to generation, or they are events from the past blown out of proportions. They have one thing in common; they become a part of the culture of the people, and usually they impart lessons. No wonder people are still fascinated with the Arthurian legends, stories of Robin Hood and Dracula, and the intriguing legends of the Greek mythology.
Legends are stories with an element of truth. A legend usually has its roots in some important historical event, and is spun around the lives of great warriors. Here we have some of the most famous legends that refuse to die...
The Legend of Atlantis
The story of Atlantis was originally told by Plato in 360 B.C. According to him, Atlantis was a great island populated by people who were technically way ahead of their time, and were very rich. Atlantis existed 9,000 years before Plato’s time. The island vanished after it was defeated by Athens.
Meticulous research has shown that such an island never existed. However, another weird theory is that Atlantis was gobbled up by the Bermuda Triangle.
The hitchhiker and the ghost
Possibly one of the oldest urban legends still being told, this one tells of a motorist who picks up a female hitchhiker on a lonely stretch of road. He drives her home only to find that she has disappeared from his backseat. After knocking on her door, he is told the girl died in a car accident years ago in the very same spot that he picked her up.
The Legend of Lady Godiva
Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon woman and wife of the ruler of Coventry, England. She loved her husband dearly, but always opposed the way he treated his people.
When her husband issued a heavy tax on the local people, Lady Godiva begged him to stop this oppressive tax, called a "Heregeld". According to the legend, Godiva's husband retorted that he would only stop the tax if she rode through the streets of Coventry naked.
For the love of her people Lady Godiva did this, covered only with her hair. She was, however, so popular and respected that the entire city stayed put while she rode through it except for Tom, a tailor, who watched through a hole in his shutter. Thus the term ‘peeping Tom’. Legend says he was struck blind for not obeying Lady Godiva's request.
Godiva’s husband, of course, abolished the oppressive law.
The favourite most legend we grew up reading and viewing is that of King Arthur and his chivalrous Knights of the Round Table and their adventures. Arthur, according to common belief, fought the Saxon invaders who attacked Britain. Mordred was another well-known character in Arthurian legend. He is commonly believed to be Arthur's illegitimate son. After being dealt a fatal blow by Mordred, Arthur was taken to Avalon, where he died.
Avalon was a mystical island, which is said to be where Glastonbury is located now. Monks at Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have found the bones of Arthur and Guinevere in the 12th century.
It wasn't until the 12th century that King Arthur emerged as we know him today in History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Queen Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, and the wizard Merlin emerged as key figures in the legend of King Arthur in this and further renditions of the tale.
The Legend of the Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth contains water with special powers. Those who drink from it are blessed with eternal youth. According to some legends, it is in Spain.
The story of the Fountain of Youth originates from the Arabic lands of the Middle East and has been recycled throughout the centuries throughout many different cultures' legends and literature.
There are so many Coca-Cola legends that they have their own category known as “Colklore.” The most popular says if you leave a tooth in a cup of Coke overnight, by morning the tooth would be completely dissolved. Like most of the other legends involving the popular drink, this is totally untrue.
According to Greek Mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of entirely female warriors. It was believed that the Amazons lived in Themiscyra near the Black Sea. This area is now Turkey, Eastern Europe.
Bloody Mary is one of the most popular ghosts in the world. But who was she, really? No one actually knows. There are hundreds of legends about this famous legendary character. Some say she was a widow who killed her children, while some say she was a young child who was murdered and is wandering around her grave. Other tales say the ghost is Mary Worth, a woman said to be a witch who was burned at the stake.
One legend about Bloody Mary says that if a person says "Bloody Mary" three times in front of the mirror after midnight, Mary's ghost will appear and kill them.
Some legends also portray her as a good ghost, but she is most often seen as an evil spirit.
The most important aspect of the legend of Bloody Mary is not the story of Mary herself but the ritual of summoning her. Folklorists have written about Bloody Mary rituals in American culture since the 1980s, describing them as seance-like events that usually involved candles, mirrors, and chanting an incantation to summon Bloody Mary. It is uncertain whether the legend derives from the myth or vice versa.
The Titanomachy is a series of wars in Greek mythology. These wars took place in Thessaly, and were also called the War of the Titans, the Battle of the Titans, the Battle of the Gods or just the Titan War. These wars were between the Titans, the older gods, and the Olympians, a newer generation of gods. The Titans ruled Mount Othrys, and the Olympians would rule Mount Olympus. The Titans and the Olympians fought to decide who would rule the universe. In the end, the Olympians who were led by Zeus won.
There were several poems about the war between the gods during the Classical Greek Age. Only one poem has survived. It is called the Theogony and is said to be written by Hesiod. The Titans and Olympians are mentioned in many other poems, particularly those of Orpheus.
Once Zeus grew up, he went to his father’s mountain and served him as a cupbearer. His father did not know that Zeus was his son. A Titan goddess named Metis helped Zeus fool his father into drinking a mixture of mustard in his wine. This caused Cronus to feel sick, and he threw up all of his children that he had eaten, one by one. Once Cronus had expelled all of Zeus’ brothers and sisters, Zeus talked them into rebelling against Cronus, their father.
This is what started the Titanomachy, or the Titan’s War. Zeus and his brothers and sisters rebelled against his father, Cronus. Zeus set the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires free from their underground prison and convinced them to join the rebellion against Cronus, too. Remember, Cronus had been the one who locked up his siblings, so they agreed to join Zeus. The Hecatonchires used rocks as weapons, and the Cyclopes made Zeus’ thunderbolts. Together they also made Poseidon’s trident and Hades’ helm of darkness.
The only Titans (the older generation) to fight with Zeus were Themis and Prometheus. This war lasted 10 years. Atlas was a major leader on the side of the Titans and Cronus. After the war was over, Zeus imprisoned all of the Titans, except for Themis and Prometheus who fought for him. These Titans were imprisoned in the earth the same way that Cronus, Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes once were. Hecatonchires guarded the Titans in their prison. Because Atlas was such an important fighter for the opposition, Zeus gave him the special punishment of holding up the world.
After the Titans’ War, Zeus and his brothers, Hades and Poseidon decided to divide the universe into three parts. They drew straws to see who would rule over which part. Zeus drew the longest straw, so he was given the title of King of the Sky. This also meant that he was the head of mortals and all the gods, too. Poseidon got the middle straw, so he became King of the Sea. Hades drew the shortest straw, so he became the ruler of the Underworld. The Underworld is also known as the realm of the dead.
Once Zeus had reign over the earth, he decided to ask Prometheus and Themis to create man and animals to populate the earth as a new generation of mortal beings. Themis created animals, and Prometheus was given the job of creating man. Themis took his job very seriously and finished all of the animals before Prometheus had even decided what gifts to give mankind. By the time Prometheus was ready to give mankind the gifts, Themis had already used them all on the animals!
Prometheus was so angry that he stole the godly fire back from Zeus, and gave it to man. Zeus was so angry that he chained Prometheus to a mountain forever. Zeus was still so angry that he wanted to punish mankind. He did this by creating a beautiful woman, named Pandora. Pandora was given a box with a little bit of each of the gods’ powers. Pandora then married, and lived a very happy life, until one day she got very curious. Pandora and her husband decided to open the box.
When they opened this box, all the evils of the world came spilling out. According to Greek mythology, this is where we get pride, envy, greed, pain, suffering and anything bad. Pandora and her husband managed to close the box before every horror escaped. They only opened it one more time because the box whispered that it had hope inside, and wanted to let it out. They did open the box then, and hope was released for all of mankind.