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in cartography and topography, a list of conventional symbols and notes to a map explaining its content. The legend is placed either along the margin of a map or in an open space within its borders. In atlases or maps composed of several sheets the legend may be on a separate sheet or appended in the form of a pamphlet. In an exploratory survey, the brief explanatory note containing data that cannot be depicted graphically (for example, the quality of a road, the design and condition of bridges, a description of a ford) is called a legend.
originally the life of a saint written to be read on his feast day. The term arose in medieval Catholic literature. During the 13th through 15th centuries, numerous compilations of legends in Latin appeared in Europe; they included the Golden Legend (Legenda aurea, 13th century), which was translated into most Western European languages and became a source of subjects for epics, drama, and lyrical poetry. Later, legends were religious didactic tales and parables about animals, plants, and objects of Christian worship. In current usage, the term “legend” is often applied to works, regardless of genre, characterized by poetic fancy yet at the same time pretending to be trustworthy.
In folklore, a legend is a traditional oral folk tale based upon a fictional image or notion, which is accepted by the storyteller and his listener as trustworthy. In Russian a contrast is made between predanie, a traditional account, and legenda (legend), which is always based upon a “miracle” and refers not only to the past but to the present and the future. The types of legend found in Russian folklore include cosmogonic (about the origin of the earth and stars), toponymic (about the origin of countries, seas, villages, cities, and their names), ethnogonic, zoogonic, Christian (about the travels of Christ and the Apostles), historical-heroic (about Stepan Razin, for example), and social-utopian (about a “golden age” and “deliverers”).
REFERENCESAfanas’ev, A. N. Narodnye russkie legendy, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1916.
Chistov, K. V. Russkie narodnye sotsial’no-utopicheskie legendy 17–19 vv. Moscow, 1967.
Jolies, A. Einfache Formen, 2nd ed. Halle (Saale), 1956.
Bayard, J.-P. Histoire des légendes, 2nd ed. Paris, 1961. (Includes bibliography.)
K. V. CHISTOV