Myths - Oxford Reference

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A Dictionary of English Folklore

Jacqueline Simpson,

Steve Roud


Stories about divine beings, generally arranged in a coherent system; they are revered as true and sacred; they are endorsed by rulers and priests, and closely linked to religion. Once this link is broken, and the actors in the story are not regarded as gods but as human heroes, giants or fairies, it is no longer a myth but a folktale. Where the central actor is divine but the story is trivial, as in the tale of Jesus and the owl, the result is religious legend, not myth.

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