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  Legends (Latin, ‘to be read’) are myths created round historical characters or incidents. Unlike myths, which grow spontaneously, legends often have a specific creator or point of origin, and their purpose is more overtly didactic (usually political or religious). Although in every other way they resemble myths. Legends usually involve (historical) human characters with supernatural beings, and they generalize specific incidents or experiences in a way which, paradoxically, gives it local validity and resonance. At some stage, indeed, legends may well turn into myths. For example we have no way of telling, at this distance, if the Trojan War really happened, if its ‘reality’ is greater or less than that of Oedipus. King Arthur\'s Camelot is at the halfway stage between legend and myth, and the death of Julius Caesar is already entering the realms of legend (complete, as in Shakespeare\'s play, with supernatural overtones). In many legends, there remains a kind of vestigial uneasiness, as if the genre is not entirely stable—and writers who deal in legend, from Livy to the creators of modern commercials (jeans, cars, beer and the Olympic games are all, in their different ways, given a legendary gloss in the interests of consumerism), tend towards a falsely naive swagger—quite unlike the relaxed self-confidence of those who deal in myth. KMcL  



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