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The material in these retellings drawn from the prose and poetry of the ancient Hawaiians -- a literature handed down orally for a multitude of generations-- have been termed "myths" and "legends." Strictly speaking, a myth is a story of the doings of godlike beings, whereas a legend deals with heroes or other human beings. Maui, the pervasive trickster-hero of broad Polynesia, is usually called a demi-god. In this anthology, the terms myth and legend are used interchangeably, principally because the many collectors and translators of the tales often failed to make the strict distinction themselves.
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