All-time Famous Legends That Captivated the World

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Legends have been part of our history. Many legends have been told and transmitted through the ages, some have

been forgotten but there are still many that continue to arouse human curiosity. Here are nine legends that captivated

the world (and some still do).

1. Godiva


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This legend is about an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who lived about 980 to 1064. According to legend, Lady Godiva took

pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband’s oppressive taxation. She appealed again

and again to her husband, who obstinately refused to remit the tolls. At last, weary of her entreaties, he said he would

grant her request if she would strip naked and ride through the streets of the town. Lady Godiva took him at his word and,

after issuing a proclamation that all persons should keep within doors and shut their windows, she rode through the town,

clothed only in her long hair. Only one person in the town, a tailor ever afterwards known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her

proclamation in one of the most famous instances of voyeurism. In the story, Tom bores a hole in his shutters so that he

might see Godiva pass, and is struck blind. In the end, her husband keeps his word and abolishes the onerous taxes.

2. Fountain of Youth


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The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Florida is

often said to be its location, and stories of the fountain are some of the most persistent associated with the state.  Spanish

explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, Puerto Rico’s first Governor, was the first to search for the Fountain of Youth. He traveled to

present-day Florida in 1513, but the story did not start with him, nor was it unique to the New World. Herodotus mentions a

fountain containing a very special kind of water located in the land of the Ethiopians. He attributes the exceptional longevity

of the Ethiopians to this water. Tales of healing waters date from Alexander’s time and were popular until the Age of Exploration.

3. Atlantis


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Atlantis (“island of Atlas”) is the name of a legendary island that started from Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias.

According to him, Atlantis is lying beyond the Pillars of Hercules”, a naval power that conquered Western Europe and

Africa approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and

night of misfortune”. The existence of Atlantis was continuously discussed from classical to modern times. Atlantis inspires

today’s literature, from science fiction to comic books and films, its name having become a byword for any and all supposed

prehistoric but advanced (and lost) civilizations.

4. El Dorado


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El Dorado (“the golden one”) is a legend that originated in the 1530s in South America. It’s about a story of a tribal chief

who covered himself with gold dust and would dive into a lake of pure mountain water. The story was brought to Colombia

with other rumors, there arose the legend of “El Dorado” (meaning the Golden Man rather than a place – “el indio dorado”,

the golden Indian or “El Rey Dorado”, The Golden King). Imagined as a place, El Dorado became a kingdom, an empire,

the city of this legendary golden king. Deluded by the legend, a group of Spanish Conquistadors explored the Amazon River

in 1541 which led to the famous and disastrous expedition. However, this group became the first to navigate the Amazon River

all the way to its mouth.

5. Robin Hood


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One of the most famous legendary heroes in history is Robin Hood.  He’s an archetypal figure in English folklore, whose

story originates from medieval times but who remains significant in popular culture where he is painted as a man known for

robbing the rich to give to the poor and fighting against injustice and tyranny. His band consists of a “seven score” group of

fellow outlawed yeomen – called his “Merry Men”. There is no consensus as to whether or not Robin Hood is based on any

historical figure and little reliable historical evidence exists to support either side of this debate.

6. Holy Grail


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The film The Da Vinci Code is focused on the quest for the Holy Grail. It is one of the most controversial films of the decade.

The search for the Holy Grail is one of the most popular and controversial legends in history. The Holy Grail was the dish,

plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Super, said to possess miraculous powers. The legend may combine Christian lore

with a Celtic myth of a cauldron endowed with special powers. The Grail legend has been traced in detail by cultural historians:

It is a legend which first came together in the form of written romances, deriving perhaps from some pre-Christian folklore

hints, in the later 12th and early 13th centuries. The early Grail romances centered on Percival and were woven into the more

general Arthurian fabric. Some of the Grail legend is interwoven with legends of the Holy Chalice.

7. King Arthur


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The Last Legion and Pendragon Sword of His Father are the two latest films about the legendary British leader King

Arthur.  According to medieval histories and romances, he led the defense of Britain against the Saxon invaders in the

early 6th century. The details of Arthur’s story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical

existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. Even so, scores of books, films, and other forms of media

are produce because many are still interested on the legend.

8. Saint George


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St. George, believed to have live from 275- 281 up to 303 was a soldier in the Guard of Emperor Roman Emperor Diocletian.

He was venerated as a martyr, and one of the most distinguish military saints in the Anglican Church, Eastern Orthodox

Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and the Easter catholic Churches. He is immortalized in the tale of George and the Dragon

and is one of the 14 Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April.

9. Gordian knot


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The Gordian knot is a legend associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem,

solved by a bold stroke. At one time the Phrygians were without a legitimate king. An oracle at Telmissus (the ancient capital

of Phrygia) decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should become their king. This man was a poor

peasant, Gordias, who drove into town on his ox-cart. He was declared king by the priests. This had been predicted in a

second way by a sign of the gods, when an eagle had landed on that ox-cart. In gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cart

to the Phrygian god Sabazios (whom the Greeks identified with Zeus) and either tied it to a post or tied its shaft with an

intricate knot of cornel (Cornus mas) bark. The ox-cart still stood in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium

in the fourth century BC when Alexander arrived, at which point Phrygia had been reduced to a province, of the Persian Empire.

In 333 BC, while wintering at Gordium, Alexander attempted to untie the knot. When he could find no end to the knot, to

unbind it, he sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword, producing the required ends (the so-called “Alexandrian solution”,

taken by the Hellenic Army IV Army Corps as their motto). Once Alexander had sliced the knot with a sword-stroke, his

biographers claimed in retrospect that an oracle further prophesied that the one to untie the knot would become the king

of Asia.

Legends have been handed down from generation to generation for different purposes. Some legends have led to

navigation and discovery of new and interesting places. Other legends served as inspiration and others to give moral

lessons. What ever the reasons for the continuous existence of these legends, they will always be a part of our lives,

of our history.

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