What is our love affair with myths and legends?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:  I am fed to the teeth with elevated themes! Old dead legends! Why must we go on forever writing about gods and legends?” 

Baron Van Swieten:  Because they do. They go on forever. Or at least what they represent. The eternal in us.” 

─ Amadeus (1984)

I think it’s safe to say that people love stories. We’ve heard them since we were children, at bedtime, around a campfire, on our favorite TV show, and in the movies. Stories are what entertain us whether were sitting in a Broadway theater or watching the latest anime on our smartphone.

kingarthurThere are so many ways for authors and writers to tell their favorite stories, whether its a retelling of an old legend or a brand new story. These folk tales and fairy tales are the composite of our combined history. The give us hope, give us faith, and make us believe in something more than our everyday life. For writers like me, myths and legends are the source of inspiration for my writing.

As you travel around the world, you’ll find that every culture has a lot of the same stories, just told with different characters. There are creation stories, love stories, tales of famous heroes rescuing a damsel in distress, and some about a girl saving the day too. It’s all part of that shared history that all human beings have. No matter what the color of your skin, the language you speak or where you live, its the stories of the past that bring us together.

I’m reminded of the television miniseries Roots, based on the novel by author Alex Haley on how he discovered his lineage all the way back to Africa. He found it through a family story that was passed down from generation to generation. It was the story of how Kunta Kinte went out into the jungle to cut down a tree to make a drum for a gift, and how he was captured and taken away from his village. This story resonated through history until Alex Haley returned to the village of his ancestor and heard the story again, but from one of the village elders. That story connected them together over hundreds of years and thousands of miles That’s the power of stories.

“That’s how it is with legends. The greater they sound, the more must’ve got left out.”
― Tim Tharp, Knights of the Hill Country

Thou some are flights of fancy, others are based on some truths. We’ve seen some stories told over and over again, from Greek mythology and King Arthur, to stories from the Bible. These are some of the great tales that resound in all of us due to their morals, their heroism, their faith, and how they impact us emotionally. These tales have resonated from century to century, across thousands of miles and multiple languages. That is what makes them immortal.

Clash of the Titans is one of my favorite movies, from the original 1981 with Harry Hamlin and Sir Lawrence Olivier to the 2010 remake with Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson. No matter how much the story changed in 30 years, it still had the same myth at its base–Perseus, the Kraken, Medusa, etc. No matter how it inspired the writer, the story was the same at its core.

No matter how they’re told, myths and legends are the stories that we all share. We have a responsibility to keep passing these stories on to the next generation, in whatever form possible, to ensure they remain part of our history.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

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