from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A legend (v. Ahd. Saga , "said"; coined by the Brothers Grimm ) is, similar to the fairy tale and the legend , a short narrative based initially on oral tradition of fantastic events that go beyond reality. Since these are connected with real events, personal and place information, the impression of a truth report is created. The original authors are usually unknown, in contrast to the collectors and editors, who often edited the written versions in terms of content and language and shaped them literarily. Fabrics and motifs are often adopted from other peoples and cultures ( hiking sagas ) and mixed with peculiarities and allusions to the landscape and the times.

Definition and classification

Johann Karl Christoph Nachtigal's Volcks sagas from 1800 are considered the earliest collection of German
sagas .

The term legend was decisively coined by the Brothers Grimm. The German dictionary speaks of the "tidings of past events that lack historical authentication" and of "naive storytelling and tradition that was transformed by the poetic faculties of the people's mind as they migrated from sex to sex". Subjective perception and objective events intermesh in such a way that supernatural, unbelievable occurrences become the essence of the legend. As in fairy tales, the humanization of plants and animals is part of the world of legends, but also supernatural beings such as elves , dwarfs and giants are included and a hero is often named. However, unlike the timeless fairy tale ("Once upon a time ...") with the general location information (forest, well) and the typified staff (princess, stepmother), actual events, locations and personalities, which are then fantastically decorated and redesigned, are the occasion for the narration. This means that the legend's claim to reality is greater than that of the fairy tale.

to form

In a highly generalized way, one can distinguish thematically three centers, which branch out and mix with one another in many ways:

  • The legends of the gods or myths tell the origin of the world, the system of, for example, the Greek or Germanic deities , their struggles for rule, their roles and responsibilities for natural forces and their relationship to the human world, in which they intervene in a supportive or hostile manner.
  • The heroic saga focuses on famous ruling families, their power politics and their armed conflicts. Germanic heroic legends z. B. the time of the migration of peoples often form legend circles around individual personalities ( Dietrich von Bern , Siegfried , Kudrun or Wieland the blacksmith ). Their subjects and protagonists are the core of a story developed and expanded into a hero song , such as the ( Hildebrandslied , Atlilied ) or heroic epic ( Waltharius , Nibelungenlied , Gudrunlied).
  • The staff of the linguistically simple folk tale usually operate in places of action in the everyday world and in a nature inhabited and animated by, in relation to the myth of the gods, small nature spirits such as fairies and dwarfs, but also demonic forces (dragons, magicians, tree nymphs, etc.).

A characteristic of the folk saga, in part also of the other two topics, is the superimposition of local sagas, natural sagas and local or regional historical sagas with the aspect of explanation (etiological sagas):

Modern sagas

The development of the legend as a literary form has not been completed, as the above examples suggest. In the period of Romanticism , a continuation of the traditional fabrics and motifs was created. a. by Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim , the form of the art saga , whereby some of the stories that emerged at that time are now generally considered to be actually old sagas (e.g. the story of the Loreley ). In the presence of the media age is an urban development Modern Sage (urban legend), often referred to as shower fairytale-like wanderer counting ( Hoax anonymous) via e-mail and Facebook is widespread. In updated form, it varies well-known myths on the fear topics of death, illness, war, insanity, crime ... and suggests credibility through sources (“Friend of a friend tales”).

See also


  • Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm: German legends . I – II, Berlin 1816, 1818, 2nd edition 1865, 3rd edition, ed. by Herman Grimm , 1891, 4th edition 1905; Reprint Stuttgart 1986.
  • Hanns-Peter Mederer: The entertaining superstition. Reception of legends in novels, narrations and practical literature between 1840 and 1855. Shaker, Aachen 2005, ISBN 3-8322-4201-5 (dissertation Universität Hamburg 2005, 312 pages).
  • Leander Petzoldt: Introduction to myth research. 3rd edition, UVK-Verl.-Ges., Konstanz 2002, ISBN 3-8252-2353-1 ( review ).
  • Kristina Hammann, Katharina Hammann: German city sagas as an audio book. ( stadtsagen.de ).
  • Vinz de Rouet: Frankfurt legends and stories. Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86931-733-5 .
  • Thomas Post: Folk tales, fairy tales, fantastic. The fantastic fairy tale world by Otfried Preußler. Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-7375-4003-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Sage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Legends  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Legends Poetry  - Sources and full texts
Commons : say  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Sage  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Gero von Wilpert : Specialized Dictionary of Literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 231). 8th, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-520-23108-5 .
  2. Say 3) β). In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 14 : R - skewness - (VIII). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1893, Sp. 1647 ( woerterbuchnetz.de ).
  3. Herbert Hunger, Christine Harrauer: Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology. Reinbek 2006.
  4. Rolf Wilhelm Brednich: The spider in the yucca palm, legendary stories from today. Beck, Munich 1990.
  5. ^ Jan Harold Brunvand: Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. 2001.