The legend is a fairy tale and the related saga text type or literary genre.


The term derives from the medieval Latin word legenda from, which means as much as "that which is to be read ", "the Vorzulesende " or " to be read pieces ". The origin of the term thus suggests - contrary to legend - a close relationship to the literary tradition. Even in ancient times created literary stories about people who were perceived as superior moral and religious personalities and " saints."

In hagiography such legends of the saints are examined next martyr acts and other traditional texts as Vita. Such hagiographical texts are also now attributed by some scholars even without regard to the special nature of historiography, although would be to distinguish between " hagiography " and " Saint Biography ". Not least among the political legends, however, the idea is widespread that it is " incorrect factual allegations ." Nevertheless, individual legends contain a core of historical truth by looking at pictorial or scenic narrative to convey the core of a fact or meaning of an event, even if the story is told each source moderately untrusted.

In the form of the saint's legend, but the legend is aimed not only at the superficial for her historical truth, but to the proclamation of a truth of faith. It goes into her central to the revelation of the divine saving action that comes in the person of a saint to appearance, symbolically attested mainly by the sign of the miracle. The best known examples are the Christopher and legend of St. George, which can be regarded as a kind of narrative theology. Here is the narrative framework of the legend, as in the legend, the myth and fairy tale, in the fiction area.

In media parlance, the term is also frequently used in the general meaning " fame " and " celebrity ".

History and typologies

In his classification of legends, the theologian Harald Martin - choice leaning against the semantics of the term Legenda. According choice were in ancient Christianity, the legends about Jesus Christ ( Christ Legends ), taken partly in the apocryphal Gospels and in the stories of the apostles, and later to the legends of the first Christian martyrs ( martyrs legends) supplemented; especially to those of which the Fathers of the 3rd century ( Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian ) have reported and which are attested by ancient Greek grave inscriptions. Went hand in hand with these stories a religious veneration of the martyrs in the cult that is attested from the late 4th century for the Saints ( liturgy, worship of relics ). Since then, both the saints and the martyrs were called in the case of threat and distress together with angels and the apostles.

The philologist Benedikt Konrad Vollmann took as part of an article in a Christian dictionary as religious legends into view. Religious legends would arise according to him, the " gravitational field of the respective high- religion." By way of example, he led for Buddhism the Buddha legend, and for Islam, the legends of the exploits of Muhammad's son 'Ali. In the legends incurred in Christianity, he distinguished between Marie legends ( Marie miracle ), Apostle legends (eg, Andrew, Thomas, James ), Bishop legends ( Nicholas, Martinus ), monk Legends ( Anthony the Hermit, Benedict, Francis ), Mermaid legends ( Agnes, Agatha, Cecilia ) and Büßerlegenden ( Gregory ).

Among the earliest collections of legends are counted " Dialogi de miraculis patrum Italicorum " by Pope Gregory the Great ( 540-604 ). 959 Before closing the canoness Hrotsvit, which is considered the first German poet and writer of history, from her first collection of legends. Content of their written epic and elegiac form, among other legends was the life of Mary, Christ's resurrection and the life of Gangolf and Pelagius. The resulting legends culminated in Germany at the end of the Middle Ages in the Middle High German epic poems. With the best known include those of Hartmann von Aue, Konrad von Würzburg and Rudolf von Ems. In the High and Late Middle Ages, found especially in the form of literary legend collections composed Place Dare widespread. At the more powerful was the Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine ( 1228/29-1298 ), who recognized the enormous material wealth legend of his time and also available for religious purposes as well as for private piety made ​​. The influence of this work on the visual arts of that time is hard to overestimate.

Protestantism took up Luther's criticism, which resulted in the Kontroversisten from the second half of the 16th century to an extended polemic against the legends. After legends in the Age of Enlightenment, the critical interest did not stand up, they were taken back into the romance. Many writers of the 19th century, beginning with a plea Herder, created new legends. These included Goethe and Kleist's The Legend of the Horseshoe St. Cecilia or the power of music. In the 20th century the legend was and parody of " anti legend" a new attention. Contemporary legends are usually called Urban Legends.