Folklore Narratives Myths and Legends Myths and Legends These narratives are regarded as true or as having a high probability of being true by the tellers of such stories. There is also a presumption that the hearers within the folk group will accept the stories as true. Myths Myths are traditional prose narratives, which within the folk group “are considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past.” They often deal with the activities of gods and demigods, the creation of the world and its inhabitants, and the origins of religious rituals. When such myths explain “such matters as origins of geographic features, animal traits, rites, taboos, and customs, they are known as explanatory or etiological narratives.” Myths It is important to remember that myths, like other forms of folklore, must be handed on informally, by word of mouth, in order to meet the standards of folklore. Therefore, the Adam and Eve story, or the story of the flood, as they are taught in formal Sunday school settings would not qualify as myths. They come from literary sources and are passed on in formal instruction with little variation. Religious stories in cultures which are non-literate would be more likely to be myths. Myths: Theories of Origin Polygenesis: this is the view that similar myths in various cultures (e.g.,the flood myth) arose independently in various folk groups Diffusion: this is the view that there must have been one primary source for the variant myths, which was transmitted to other regions and in the process developed variants. Myths: Analytical Approaches Muller’s Solar Mythology: myths are essentially accounts of the recurrence of night and day Cultural Evolution: myths are survivals from an earlier “savage state” of civilization Psychoanalytical: using myths to examine the unconscious and subconscious, looking for Oedipal, phallic, and other kinds of symbolism. Legends While myths are told to validate religious rites and beliefs in a primitive culture, legends are often used to validate superstitions in modern folklore. Legends are generally secular. Legends are told as occurring in the historical past, even the recent past. Legends are often migratory, widely known in different places. Legend Types Religious Supernatural Urban Belief Tales Personal Anecdotes –Memorates Religious Legends Saints’ stories Miraculous answers to prayers Three Nephite stories Temple appearances Etiological stories Supernatural Legends Ghost stories Urban Belief Tales Cement car Vanishing hitchhiker Microwaved poodle (or cat) Woman baked in tanning machine AIDS infection Blue star halucinogenic Gangs flashing lights Mrs. Fields’ cookie recipe Black man in the elevator Personal King Arthur George Washington Davy Crockett Anecdotes Short, personal stories about local characters (sometimes memorates) –Down’s Syndrome person with coins –Mental Hospital inmate (tire lug nuts) Classification of Myths and Legends Stith Thompson’s Motif-Index of Folk Literature: This is a multi-volume work which classifies the narrative elements or Motifs found in folk material. Divisions include references to items such as the following: Creator, Gods, Demigods and culture heroes, Topographical features of the earth, Creation of animal life, etc. It is broken down even further, for example under Creation of man, you would find Emergence or descent of first man to earth, Man made from mineral substance, Man made from vegetable substance, Primeval human pair, etc.