The main characters often depend on the history of the country. Some legends are inspired by real facts happened a long time ago, while others have been created to give a more interesting view of reality. The characters and mythological creatures which appear most often are: the devil, saints, historical figures, royals and beautiful women.
The devil appears in some of the legends and his goal is to tempt the heroes of the story. In every legend, the devil is sly, destructive and sneaky while the hero is always quiet, brave and thoughtful. In most cases the hero wins like in the Italian legend “The Devil’s column” or the Lithuanian legend “Puntuka stone”. But the hero doesn’t always win because sometimes he is too curious like in the Bulgarian legend “Devil’s throat cave” where we find the young Orpheus trying to save his beloved wife Eurydice from the Hade’s underworld; or sometimes the hero tries to trick the devil like in “The tale of Mr. Twardowski”. So, in those cases, the devil wins.
In Italy we have the legend of Romolo and Remo and the foundation of Rome, where the two boys are saved and grown by a female wolf, so we can consider the wolf like a symbol of salvation and power. In Lithuania we have the legend of Vilnius city foundation where the Grand Duke Gediminas dreams about an iron wolf on the top of a mountain and the following day he takes inspiration from his dream to build the city in that place. So we can consider the wolf as a symbol of power.
In some legends we have the figure of the monster, often a dragon, that terrifies villages and cities. In the Italian legend “Saint George and the Dragon” a princess is sacrified for the safety of a city; in the Lithuanian legend about Neringa’s conquest, we have a similar situation because the daughter of a fisherman, being beautiful, is coveted by a dragon, to save the village, she is offered in marriage to the dragon even if she refuses. In the legend "Scylla and Charibdis" the two monsters are terrible and terrifying and it is impossible to believe that once they were two beautiful girls: all the sailors passing through the strait of Messina are afraid of them.
In a lot of European lands, the imagine of the woman is celebrated as an angel. Women are respected and treated as divinities. They are defined as a superior human-being because they are respected by everybody and venerated as queens. Every respectable man has a wife and in the private life of each couple, women are often well-treated. But women in the legends aren’t always rich or in a high position. They can be poor girls or not from well-off families.
Another well-known role is that of the “Man of honor”, as the figure of the knight during the Middle Ages. This figure is such an ethical man to be totally prepared to stand up for his principles. This man is usually a king, a soldier or simply a father. These men appear strong and mature, but as human-beings, they can also make mistakes. For this reason, not all the men in the European legends are respected and considered “men of honor”. A male character can also be an evil man. Another important character is that of the magician. This character is important because of his abilities and qualities.