We all know what the word means…and my character Bram spends a lot of time in Worthy of Legend pondering what really makes someone worthy to be called a hero, worthy to have stories written and sung and remembered about him or her.
But have you ever paused to wonder about the word itself?
Legend has been around in English since the 1300s, and it originally meant “a narrative dealing with a happening or event.” It’s taken directly from French, which in turn traces back to Latin legenda, which is literally “a story,” especially of the saints. Stories of the lives of saints used to be read at matins and at religious houses, so these stories were called legends…”things to be read.” The Latin root is, not surprisingly, legere, “to read.”
Because it was used in English exclusively at first for lives of saints–full of wonderful and miraculous things–the word soon began to be used to describe mythological, unbelievable, non-historical events as well. I love, though, how closely related the unbelievable and the miraculous have been even in our vocabulary for so long.
What do you think makes someone worthy of legend?