Legends give insight into the values of a culture. Most of the time, the main role of a legend is to create a certain moral and ethical value system which can apply to the whole society. In this way, a moral code is provided, showing people how they should conduct themselves. That is why they are so inspiring, they teach us about moral values and they provide us with examples of behaviour that can elevate our attitude toward life. When personal values, which are personal beliefs about right and wrong are unanimously accepted by a society or culture, they become cultural values.
Heroic legends incorporate the values of a society and set for the individual the standards and goals of their culture. Legends are not simply entertaining; they serve to educate and channel the energies of the young. The fate of the primitive man was at the mercy of nature and other hostile and unknown forces. Men could not defend themselves in those times but by making use of their intelligence and fantasy.
The most common type of hero is that who fights with a beast which can be embodied by a dragon, a devil, or other mythical creatures. Regardless of the means they use in this combat – ingenuity, courage, or strength – the hero’s epic quest is designed to teach us that eventually good triumphs over bad. Other moral values that appear in legends are determination and dedication in pursuing a goal, whether it is founding a city, building a masterpiece or punishing a wrongdoer. It is also noticeable that the spirit of sacrifice is present in some legends, a sacrifice of the self or of a beloved person. The sacrifice is done for various reasons, from the burning desire of leaving behind a work of art which can be considered the ultimate art manifesto of its creator, like in “The Master Builder Manole” or “Devil’s Bridge”, to pleasing the whims of a beloved daughter, like in “Lake Misurina and Mount Sorapiss”.