Elves and Fairies (Fantasy & Folklore) by John Hamilton
Fairies are found in the folk tales of many different cultures. The word fairy became commonly used during the Middle Ages. However, fairy-like creatures appeared in literature thousands of years before. The ancient Greek poet Homer wrote of sirens and nymphs in The Iliad and The Odyssey. Early Sanskrit poetry from India refers to celestial singers, while early civilizations on the Pacific Islands told of spirits resembling fairies. Even ancient Egypt had fairy-like creatures called Hathors.
Since so many cultures tell stories of fairies, it’s natural to think that there might be a common origin to these creatures.
But each culture has its own different account of the beginning of the fairy myth. It could be that fairy stories are so old that their beginnings have been lost to time. People have been telling fairy stories since before there was writing. As the tales were passed orally from one generation to the next, their origins slowly faded away. Today we are left with fairy folk tales and legends, which are almost impossible for scholars to trace and verify.
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