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UNIT 5 Legends and Myths. Click the mouse button or press the space bar to continue. UNIT MENU. Unit Menu. Introducing the Unit. Genre Focus : Legends and Myths. Literary Analysis Model : The Journey of Gilgamesh by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons. Wrap-Up.

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UNIT 5

Legends and Myths

Click the mouse button or press the space bar to continue

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UNIT MENU

Unit Menu

Introducing the Unit

Genre Focus: Legends and Myths

Literary Analysis Model:

The Journey of Gilgamesh

by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons

Wrap-Up

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INTRODUCTION

Legends and myths are stories that usually have long histories. Often, they have been written and rewritten, or told and retold, for countless generations. Both legends and myths come from oraltradition—that is, literature passed by word of mouth from generation to generation. Legends are usually based on historical figures such as saints or kings, and they generally involve less of the supernatural than myths do. Myths may contain the values, beliefs, and deepest truths of the cultures they spring from.

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INTRODUCTION

Acts of Courage

Courage comes in many forms. An audition, a first date, a speech, even everyday life can require acts of courage. The legends in Part 1 narrate acts of courage that made people heroes to entire cultures. As you read the selections, ask yourself: Who are some modern heroes? What makes them heroic?

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INTRODUCTION

Rescuing and Conquering

Leaders and warriors may use their strength to rescue allies and conquer enemies. But often strength is not enough. The tales in Part 2 tell of heroes who use their brains and bravery in rescues and conquests—and sometimes outwit themselves. As you read these myths and folktales, ask yourself: How do the hero’s intelligence and other personal qualities contribute to these rescues and conquests?

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GENRE FOCUS: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

What can readers gain from Legends and Myths?

According to Thomas Bulfinch, one of America’s first collectors of world myths and legends, “. . . if that which tends to make us happier and better can be called useful, then we claim that epithet for our subject.

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GENRE FOCUS: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

What can readers gain from Legends and Myths?

For Mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.” Here, happiness and the deepest truths go hand in hand. The role models, beliefs, and values of a culture are often preserved in their legends and myths.

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GENRE FOCUS: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

The Legendary Hero

Legend

Legends are traditional stories handed down from generation to generation. Legends are believed to originate in true events. However, legends typically exaggerate the powers and deeds of their main characters, or heroes.

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GENRE FOCUS: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

The Legendary Hero

Hero

A hero is the main character in a literary work. The term can refer to either a female or a male. In legends, the hero is admired by the reader for his or her superior character and noble deeds. These characters serve to inspire readers to achieve the traits that their culture values.

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GENRE FOCUS: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

Myth and the Oral Tradition

Myths

Myths are very ancient stories, whose authors are unknown, or anonymous. Myths tell of gods and goddesses, their interventions in the lives of heroes, and supernatural events. Many myths attempt to explain a belief, a custom, or a force of nature. Across cultures, mythic themes show many similarities. For example, virtually every culture has a myth that seeks to explain the creation of the world.

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GENRE FOCUS: LEGENDS AND MYTHS

Myth and the Oral Tradition

Oral Tradition

A culture’s oral tradition includes its myths and legends, and it also includes its folklore and folktales. Folklore is the broader term that includes traditional beliefs, customs, stories, songs, and dances. Folktales are the stories within the culture’s folklore. Recording a story does not remove it from the oral tradition. As a story is told by each generation, it may gradually change. The next time you hear or read the story, it might sound a little different. Most folklore takes as its subject the concerns of the common people.

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The Journey of Gilgamesh

by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons

LITERARY ANALYSIS MODEL

Reading Strategy

Analyzing Genre

What elements of legend does “The Journey of Gilgamesh” have?

Answer:“The Journey of Gilgamesh” has a larger-than-life hero, described as smart, beautiful, and noble, who is based on a historical figure.

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The Journey of Gilgamesh

by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons

LITERARY ANALYSIS MODEL

Reading Strategy

Analyzing Genre

What universal theme does “The Journey of Gilgamesh” have?

Answer: concern about mortality

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The Journey of Gilgamesh

by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons

LITERARY ANALYSIS MODEL

Reading Strategy

Analyzing Genre

In what way does Gilgamesh represent all people?

Answer: He represents people’s yearning to be immortal as well as their need to recognize that immortality is beyond the realm of human experience.

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The Journey of Gilgamesh

by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons

LITERARY ANALYSIS MODEL

Viewing the Art

Look at the sculptures on pages 962–963. What might these sculptures reveal about the values of the artists who produced them?

Answer: You might say that the artists wanted to glorify heroes who were powerful enough to tame or conquer threatening creatures. They admired bravery and physical strength.

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The Journey of Gilgamesh

by Joan C. Verniero and Robin Fitzsimmons

LITERARY ANALYSIS MODEL

Reading Check

Analyzing

How is this epic similar to and different from myths, legends, and folktales? Explain your answer.

Answer: “The Journey of Gilgamesh” has aspects of both legend and myth. It has a legendary hero as well as supernatural elements.

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WRAP–UP

Elements of Legends and Myths

  • Legends
    • Legends are ancient stories with elements of history and elements of fantasy.
  • Legendary heroes
    • Legendary heroes are admirable and noble. They perform great deeds, often with the help of gods.
  • Myths
    • Myths tell stories of gods, heroes, and supernatural interventions.
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WRAP–UP

Elements of Legends and Myths

  • Folklore
    • Folklore includes the folktales, dances, songs, beliefs, and customs of a culture.
  • Folktales
    • Folktales tell stories of common people.
  • Oral tradition
    • Oral tradition is the myths, legends, folklore, and folktales of a culture that are passed orally from generation to generation.
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WRAP–UP

Guide to Reading Legends and Myths

  • Read to enjoy.
  • Consider the purpose of the work. Was it written to inspire, instruct, or motivate?
  • Be aware of the cultural origin of the story.
  • If you are reading a legend, be aware of historical elements in the text.
  • If you are reading a myth, look for hints about the values of the culture that created it.
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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

The word legend originates from the Latin word legenda, an adjective that means “for reading” or “to be read.” Initially, legenda was used only when referring to written stories, not the stories that made up the oral tradition. In the fourteenth century, the English word legend was used similarly: it only referred to written accounts of saints’ lives.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

Beginning in the fifteenth century, legend began to be used to refer to traditional stories as well. Legends communicated the heroic acts of knights and the greatness of kings and queens, and such stories became more widespread after the invention of the printing press. Eventually the term legend acquired its current meaning—of inspiring a story.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

Legend

A legend is a traditional story handed down from one generation to the next, originally by word of mouth. Legends are believed to be based on true events and a historical hero. In the passage on page 968, King Arthur becomes king of Britain by pulling a sword from a stone. Over the years, legends have gained elements of fantasy and magic. Because legends are the stories of the people, they often express the values or character of a nation.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

Epic

When a hero and his or her adventures are described in the form of a long narrative poem—one that tells a story—it is called an epic. Like legends, epics have extraordinary heroes. One of the supernatural elements that often appears in epics is gods and goddesses intervening in the lives of humans. Such supernatural happenings are less common in legends.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

Hero

The hero is the main character in a literary work, generally one the reader admires. His or her good deeds and noble character allow the hero to defeat all enemies. The hero often sets out on a journey or challenges an enemy in battle to save his or her nation or family.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

Hero

A hero may be male or female. One well-known example of a modern female hero is Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. She receives some guidance from superhuman forces—the good witch—and shows unusual courage, intelligence, independence, and leadership.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

The Legendary Hero

Hero

The heroes of literature face great difficulties, but reap great rewards. Some authors have speculated what it might be like for an ordinary person to try to live a hero’s life. A famous example of this sort of tale is Don Quixote, in which Don Quixote has some trouble finding monsters to slay.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

Myth and Oral Traditions

Writer Joseph Campbell devoted his career to the study and teaching of world myths and oral traditions. He once said: “Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols.”

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

Myth and Oral Traditions

Myth

Myths are traditional stories that deal with gods, heroes and supernatural forces. They may offer role models, try to explain the natural world, or suggest the beliefs, customs, or ideals of a society. The authors of myths are unknown, though a later translator may be named, as in the example on page 1036 in your textbook.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

Myth and Oral Traditions

Oral Tradition

A culture’s oral tradition includes stories and other oral transmissions that preserve the culture’s history, ancestry, and literature. Although writing allows a story to be remembered unchanged, oral transmission allows a story to evolve for the benefit of each generation of listeners. Many well-loved stories were preserved orally before they were written down. Some oral wisdom has not been written down to this very day.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

Myth and Oral Traditions

Oral Tradition

Oral tradition includes folklore, folktales, and tall tales.

Folklore The traditional beliefs, practices, stories, songs, and dances of a culture make up its folklore. It is based on the concerns of the common people. In the selection on page 1037 in your textbook, John Henry is a man defined by his work on the railroad.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

Myth and Oral Traditions

Oral Tradition

Folktale Animal stories, trickster stories, fairy tales, myths, legends and tall tales are all included in the larger category of folktales. A folktale is a traditional story that has been passed down orally long before being written down.

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LITERARY FOCUS

Literary Focus

Myth and Oral Traditions

Oral Tradition

Tall Tale A tall tale is a kind of folktale. In a tall tale, the fantastic adventures and amazing feats of folk heroes are wildly exaggerated, but the realistic local settings and tone suggest that the exaggerations are true.

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Unit 5

Keep Track of Your Ideas

As you read, try using this study organizer to practice identifying elements of legends and myths. This diagram shows how the Three-Tab Book should look.

  • Write these labels on the tabs:
  • Legend Clues
  • Myth Clues
  • Folktale Clues
  • For each selection, write clues you used to identify the element.

Foldables

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Unit 5

REFERENCE

  • Literary Terms Handbook
  • Test-Taking Skills Handbook
  • Reading Handbook
  • Daily Language Practice Transparencies
  • Foldables
  • Writing Handbook
  • Grammar and Writing Workshop Transparencies
  • Business Writing
  • Language Handbook
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