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Legends and Sagas

Grail Maiden: Public Domain Image by Arthur Rackham

General  Northern European  Arabia  Baltic  Basque  Celtic  Eastern European  England  Finland  France  Germany  Greece  Iceland  Italy  Persia  Portugal  Roma (Gypsy)  Scandinavia  Spain 

This section of sacred-texts archives the rich literature of Sagas and Legends. These are mostly (but not all) from Northern Europe, and primarily based on legendary events and people from the Middle Ages. Many of these narratives are based on archetypal stories that date even further back in time.


 The Myth of the Birth of the Hero
by Otto Rank [1914]
A groundbreaking application of psychoanalysis to comparative mythology.

The Lang Fairy Books
by Andrew Lang [1889-1910]
Full text of the classic folk-lore series, written for children of all ages

The Works of Lord Dunsany
by Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany [1905-22]
Lord Dunsany paved the way for Tolkien with his delightful internally consistent fantasy worlds.

Northern European

 Teutonic Myth and Legend
by Donald Mackenzie [1912]
An able retelling of the Northern mythological cycle.

Arabian Nights

 The 1001 Arabian Nights
tr. by Sir Richard Burton [1850]
An ‘unexpurgated’ version of the Arabian Nights, translated from the Arabic by the Orientalist Sir Richard Burton.

 The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments
tr. by Andrew Lang, Illustrations by H. J. Ford [1898]
A version of the Arabian Nights suitable for Victorian children. Translated and abridged from the French version of Galland by the folklorist Andrew Lang.

1001 Arabian Nights
A full etext of the 16 volume Sir Richard Burton translation. Highly recommended. [External Site]



 The Hero of Esthonia
by W. F. Kirby [1895] (2 vols)
A extensive ‘prose outline’ of the Estonian national epic, the Kalevipoeg, and some Estonian folklore.

 Baltic Wizards
by Frances Jenkins Olcott [1928]
A diverse collection of Baltic folklore, retold for young readers, including lore of Finland.


 Basque Folklore


 Celtic Folklore

In order to deal properly with this extensive subject, all of the Celtic texts and books now have their own page. Topics include:

Celtic Fairies
General Celtic

Slavic and Eastern European

 The Tale of the Armament of Igor
by Leonard A. Magnus [1915]
parallel English/Russian
The first masterpiece of Russian literature, from the time of transition between Slavic Paganism and Christianity.

 The Songs of the Russian People
by W.R.S. Ralston [1872]
A treasure trove of Russian and Slavic folklore, mythology and tradition. Covers pre-Christian Slavic Paganism.

 Roumanian Fairy Tales and Legends
by E.B. Mawr [1881]
A small collection of Romanian folk tales and historical legends.

 Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources
by A. H. Wratisalw [1890]
An excellent (and long out of print) collection of Slavic folktales, with hints of some very ancient lore.

 Folk Tales From the Russian
by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal [1903]

 Heroic Ballads of Servia
by George Rapnall Noyes and Leonard Bacon [1913]
Translations of Serbian oral poetry.

 Old Peter’s Russian Tales
by Arthur Ransome [1916]
Russian folklore retold, including tales of Baba Yaga.

 Stories of Russian Folk-Life
by Donald A. Mackenzie [1916]

 The Key of Gold: 23 Czech Folk Tales
By Josef Baudis [1917].

 The Man in the Panther’s Skin
by Shota Rustaveli, tr. by Marjory Scott Wardrop [1912]
The Georgian National Epic.

 Armenian Legends and Poems
by Zabelle C. Boyajian [1916]
A sampler of Armenian literature, legends and history.




All of the texts and books about England also now have their own page. Topics include:

English Folklore


The Kalevala is the national saga of Finland. Pieced together (and embellished) by Elias Lönnrot from traditional storytellers in the late 19th Century, the tales which constitute the Kalevala show signs of great antiquity.

 The Kalevala (English)
John Martin Crawford, tr. [1888]
The Finnish national epic, the wars of wizards and heroes to control a mystical artifact. 
This etext was the first English version of the Kalevala available on the Internet; it was scanned at sacred-texts, and is the source of the Project Gutenberg text of this book.
 The Kalevala (Finnish)
Collected by Elias LönnrotThis etext of the Kalevala in Finnish is from the Runeberg project.

Magic Songs of the West Finns, Vol. I
by John Abercromby [1898].
A treasure trove of Finnish lore.

Magic Songs of the West Finns, Vol. II
by John Abercromby and Elias Lönnrot [1898].
Ancient Finnish charms, formulae, and prayers, used by Shamans, healers, and peasants from ancient times.

 Baltic Wizards
by Frances Jenkins Olcott [1928]
This includes a section on Finnish folklore.


 The Song of Roland
translated by Charles Scott Moncrief [1919]
This saga depicts a pivotal episode in the conflict between the Islamic and Christian world in the late Middle ages.


 Wagner’s Ring of the Niblung
by Richard Wagner, translated by Margaret Armour; Illustrations by Arthur Rackham [1910].
An excellent translation of the librettos of operas Siegfried and Die Götterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods), with beautiful illustrations by the one of the best fairy-tale illustrators of the 19th Century.

 The Nibelungenlied
translated by Daniel B. Shumway [1909]
The Nibelungenlied is derived from the Ancient Norse Eddas. The Nibelungenlied also supplied source material for Wagner’s Ring opera cycle.

 Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine
by Lewis Spence [1915]
Lore of the Rhine valley, including the Nibelunglied saga.

 Grimm’s Household Tales
by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Margaret Hunt [1812]

 Summer Legends
by Rudolph Baumbach, Translated by Helen B. Dole [1888]
Thanks Eliza, for donating this text! Visit her site at [External Site].

 The Germany of Tacitus
One of the only ancient descriptions of the Germanic tribes.
Part of The Complete works of Tacitus.


Fairy Tales of Modern Greece
by Theodore P. Gianakoulis and Georgia H. MacPherson [1930]
Modern Greek fairies and their often tragic interactions with mortals.


 Icelandic Lore

All of the texts and books about Icelandic lore now have their own page. Subjects include:

The Eddas.
The Sagas.


 Orlando Furioso
by Ludovico Ariosto, translated by William Stewart Rose [1823-31]
Italy’s most notable contribution to renaissance epic poetry.


 The Shah Namah
of Ferdowsi, translated by Helen Zimmern [1883460,993 bytes
The national epic of Persia (Iran).


 The Lusiad
by Luis de Camoens, trans. by William Julius Mickle [1776, edition of 1877]
The Portuguese national epic, the tale of Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India.

Roma (Gypsy)

The Roma people and their lore now have their own page:

 Roma Index. 


 Popular Tales from the Norse
by George Dasent [1904]
A superb collection of Scandinavian folklore.

 The Danish History
of Saxo Grammaticus, translated by Oliver Elton [1905]
The legendary history of the Danish people.

 Heimskringla or The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway
by Snorri Sturlson, translated by Samuel Laing [1844]


 Legends and Romances of Spain
By Lewis Spence [1920]

 The Lay of the Cid
Translated by R. Selden Rose and Leonard Bacon [1919]
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The Spanish national epic.