Merlin befriends a young man by the name of Arthur, who is to become the future king. Merlin matures to an ascendant sagehood and engineers the birth of Arthur through magic and intrigue. ", Lloyd-Morgan, Ceridwen. A prophet and a madman, he was introduced into Arthurian legend by Geoffrey of Monmouth as Merlin the wizard, associated with the town of Carmarthen in South Wales. 12 comments. Archived. All these variants have been adapted and translated into several other languages, and further modified. The meaning of the name is \"sea fortress\" or \"of the sea fortress\". Inspired by Wace's Roman de Brut, an Anglo-Norman adaptation of Geoffrey's Historia, Merlin was originally a part of a cycle of Robert's poems telling the story of the Grail over the centuries. The most we can really hope for is innuendo, but as any fellow Doctor Who fan knows, innuendo is a little thing that makes a big difference. Eventually, long after Merlin is gone, his advice to dispose of the baby Mordred through an event evoking the Biblical Massacre of the Innocents leads leads to the deaths of many, among them Arthur. Geoffrey had Myrddin in mind when he wrote his earliest surviving work, the Prophetiae Merlini ("Prophecies of Merlin", c. 1130), which he claimed were the actual words of the legendary poet and madman. Rather, the legendary warrior king was created as a “Celtic superhero” and in reality, was nothing more than an amalgamation of the lives of five real-life warlords. Now, Merlin is a family show, so for those eagerly awaiting the racy or naughty moments between Merlin and Arthur (or Morgana and Gwen): not gonna happen.The subtext is not sexually charged. Close. Robert lays great emphasis on Merlin's power to shapeshift, on his joking personality, and on his connection to the Holy Grail, the quest for which he foretells. Though usually a figure who supports Arthur and his vision of. There is also the real likel… He went on to add new episodes that tie Merlin with King Arthur and his predecessors. Gefoffrey included the prophet in his next work, Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1136). The name of Merlin's mother is not usually stated, but is given as Adhan in the oldest version of the Prose Brut. Merlin (also known as Myrddin, Merlinus) is the great wizard of the Arthurian Legends best known from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur (1469 CE). The character of Merlin is based on several sources — one is the Welsh Myrddin, who appears in stories as far back as the 6th century. Merlin (Welsh: Myrddin, Cornish: Marzhin, Breton: Merzhin) is a mythological figure prominently featured in the legend of King Arthur and best known as an enchanter or wizard. A Wiltshire mound where the legendary wizard Merlin was purported to be buried is found to date back to 2400 BC. 2. Merlin: Real or Fiction? In 1138, combining Nennius' history and Welsh tradition about a bard named Myrddin, Geoffrey of Monmouth completed his Historia Regum Britanniae, which traces the British kings to the great-grandson of Aeneas, Trojan hero and legendary founder of Rome.In about A.D. 1150, Geoffrey also wrote a Vita Merlini. [note 8] The form of his prison or grave can be variably a crystal cave, a hole under a large rock (as in Le Morte d'Arthur), a magic tower, or a tree.  Other suggestions are that 'Merlin' is an adjective, from the French merle meaning 'blackbird',:79 or that the 'many names' deriving from Myrddin stem from the Welsh: myrdd: myriad. Does King Arthur Belong to the Middle Ages? Vivien had now betrayed Merlin to his death and was now the most powerful wizard in all of the land. Some of the many Welsh works predicting the Celtic revenge and victory over the Saxons have been reinterpreted as Merlin's (Myrddin's) prophecies, and later used by propaganda of the Welsh-descent king Henry VIII of England in the 16th century. Anne Lawrence-Mathers's account of Merlin's origins as a made-up textual entity rather than a real and revered figure looming out of a remote Celtic past is not for the fainthearted. Ashe says Geoffrey of Monmouth connects Arthur with the tail end of the Roman Empire, in the late 5th century A.D.: "This is one of the clues, of course, to when Geoffrey [of Monmouth] thinks all this is happening, because the Western Roman Empire ended in 476, so, presumably, he's somewhere in the 5th Century. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast. Decades after, Robert de Boron retold and expanded on this material in his influential Old French poem Merlin.  Later authors have Merlin serve as the king's advisor and mentor until he disappears from the story after having been bewitched and forever sealed or killed by his student known as the Lady of the Lake after falling madly in love with her. Arthur doesn't agree with his father's rulings, which makes his bond with Merlin even stronger. Now, according to some research I've seen, the historical Merlin, and there was at least two, was a man who's name and title were both the same.  The story of Vortigern's tower is the same; the underground dragons, one white and one red, represent the Saxons and the Britons, and their final battle is a portent of things to come. The earliest Merlin text in German was Caesarius of Heisterbach's Dialogus Miraculorum (1220), originally in Latin.  Malory's telling of this episode would later become a major inspiration for Romantic authors and artists of the 19th century. In English-language medieval texts that conflate Britain with the Kingdom of England, the Anglo-Saxon enemies against whom Merlin aids first Uther and then Arthur tend to be replaced by the Saracens or simply just invading pagans. , Clas Myrddin or Merlin's Enclosure is an early name for Great Britain stated in the Third Series of Welsh Triads. Merlin's fate of either demise or eternal imprisonment, along with his destroyer or captor's motivation (from her fear of Merlin and protecting her own virginity, to her jealously for his relationship with Morgan), is recounted differently in variants of this motif but is usually placed within the enchanted forest of Brocéliande. The 15th-century Scotichronicon tells that Merlin himself underwent a triple-death, at the hands of some shepherds of the under-king Meldred: stoned and beaten by the shepherds, he falls over a cliff and is impaled on a stake, his head falls forward into the water, and he drowns. It is possible that he was taught by Salazar Slytherin himself, given the time period Merlin lived in. Only a few lines of the poem have survived, but a prose version became popular and was incorporated into Arthurian chivalric romance literature.  Other purported sites of Merlin's burial include a cave deep inside Merlin's Hill (Welsh: Bryn Myrddin), outside Carmarthen. His argument was based on the fact that early references to Merlin describe him as possessing characteristics which modern scholarship (but not that of the time the sources were written) would recognize as druidical, the inference being that those characteristics were not invented by the early chroniclers, but belonged to a real person. In Robert's account, as in Geoffrey's Historia, Merlin was created as a demon spawn, but here explicitly to become the Antichrist who is to reverse the effect of the Harrowing of Hell. King Arthur’s most trusted advisor, prophet, magician, and friend, Merlin was almost certainly the creation of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who writes extensively about Merlin in his twelfth century work The History of the Kings of Britain.Geoffrey combined tales and stories of a bard and wizard named Myrddin, who was created by a ninth century mystic named Nennius. Carmarthen is also associated with Merlin more generally, including through the 13th-century manuscript known as the Black Book of Carmarthen and the local lore of Merlin's Oak. Merlin appears as a woodcutter with an axe about his neck, big shoes, a torn coat, bristly hair, and a large beard. The character of Merlin is one that is known to many, even by those who have never read or seen a story based on the Arthurian legends. 3. Common themes in most of them include Merlin usually having the prior prophetic knowledge of her plot against him (one exception is the Spanish Post-Vulgate Baladro where his ability is dampened by lust), but lacking either ability or will to counteract it in any way, along with her usually using one of his own spells against him. He doesn’t appear in the only surviving contemporary source about the Saxon invasion, in which the Celtic monk Gildas wrote of a real-life battle at Mons Badonicus (Badon Hills) around 500 A.D. Because of his link with a demon and God, Merlin had great wisdom and powers from the two opposing forces. 1. Likewise, characters like Merlin could be based on real, non-magical people. In Math, the Son of Mathonwy, from the classic collection of Welsh tales known as the Mabinogion, Gwydion, a bard, and magician, performs love spells and uses cunning to protect and help an infant boy.  The demonic legacy invests Merlin with a preternatural knowledge of the past and present, which is supplemented by God, who gives the boy a prophetic knowledge of the future. Key Events in the History of the English Language, Power Couples of the Dark and Middle Ages.  As the Arthurian myths were retold, Merlin's prophetic aspects were sometimes de-emphasised in favour of portraying him as a wizard and an advisor to the young Arthur, sometimes in struggle between good and evil sides of his character, and living in deep forests connected with nature. This thread is archived. In the Post-Vulgate Suite, the young King Bagdemagus manages to find the rock under which Merlin is entombed alive by Niviene; he communicates with Merlin, but cannot lift it. Geoffrey retold the story in his Historia Regum Britanniæ with some embellishments, and gives the fatherless child the name of the prophetic bard Merlin.  If so, the hypothetical Merlin would have lived about a century after the hypothetical historical Arthur.  In British poetry, Myrddin was a bard driven mad after witnessing the horrors of war, who fled civilization to become a wild man of the wood in the 6th century.  Later writers in France and elsewhere expanded the account to produce a fuller image, creating one of the most important figures in the imagination and literature of the Middle Ages. What follows is a new episode of the young Arthur's drawing of the sword from the stone, an event orchestrated by Merlin. The name of King Arthur in Latin is Artorius. Here, Merlin's shapeshifting powers are also featured prominently. The narrative of Merlin is largely based on Geoffrey's familiar tale of Vortigern's Tower, Uther's war against the Saxons, and Arthur's conception. Merlin was probably born in the town of Carmarthen. Geoffrey de Monmouth was a crucial figure in the development of the character. The name Carmarthen is derived from the town's previous Roman name Moridunum, in turn derived from Celtic Brittonic moridunon, 'sea fortress'.. For other uses, see, The young Merlin reading his prophecies to, According to Alan Lupack, "Merlin plays many roles in Arthurian literature, including bard, prophet, magician, advisor, and warrior. Ambrosius was rumoured to be such a child. Decades after, Robert de Boron retold and expanded on this material in his influential Old French poem Merlin. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote about the early history of Britain in Historia Regum Britanniae (the "History of the Kings of Britain") and Vita Merlini ("Merlin's Life"), which was adapted from Celtic mythology. Boy Prophet: According to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work called Historia regum Britanniae (“History of the Kings of Britain”, 1137), Merlin was rumored to have been the son of a demon or an incubus and a mortal woman who was a nun. / Today by body will be pierced through by a sharp stake / of wood, and so my life will expire. In North Welsh tradition, Merlin retires to Bardsey Island (Welsh: Ynys Enlli), where he lives in a house of glass (Welsh: Tŷ Gwydr) with the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain (Welsh: Tri Thlws ar Ddeg Ynys Prydain). [note 12] Another site associated with Merlin's burial, in his 'Merlin Silvestris' aspect, is the confluence of the Pausalyl Burn and River Tweed in Drumelzier, Scotland. The Merlin prototype may have been a Celtic druid named Lailoken who gained second sight after he went mad and escaped society to live in the forest. However, while he was a fictional writer it does appear that he did base Arthur’s magician, on a historical figure. Sections on Vortigern include the following prophecy referred to in Part I of the Merlin television mini-series: Following barbarian raids, troop withdrawals from Britain ordered by Magnus Maximus in A.D. 383, Stilicho in 402, and Constantine III in 407, the Roman administration elected three tyrants: Marcus, Gratian, and Constantine. Ten years ago, Merlin was wearing a full set of armor with a unique helm that resembled a beetle, like the rest of her fellow Seven Deadly Sins. The earliest version of the Annales Cambriae entry (in the "A-text", written c. 1100), as well as a later copy (the "C-text", written towards the end of the 13th century) do not mention Merlin. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. In the first, Merlin creates Stonehenge as a burial place for Aurelius Ambrosius, bringing the stones from Ireland. Being mythology-based, Merlin's Life is not enough to say Merlin ever lived. [note 7] Instead, Merlin's eventual undoing comes from his lusting after another of his female students, named Viviane (among other names and spellings, including Malory's popular Nimue); also called a fairy (French fee) like Morgan, Viviane is first found in the Lancelot-Grail cycle, having been inserted into the legend by either de Boron or his continuator. What Role Did Gaul Play in Ancient History? Monmouth appears to have been aware of Ambrosius Aurelianus and this figure was influential in the development of the character, who was the mentor of Arthur. He appeared in Arthurian legend as an enigmatic figure, fluctuations and inconsistencies in his character being often 86% Upvoted. save hide report. [note 5] In the Perceval en prose (also known as the Didot Perceval and too attributed to Robert), where Merlin is the initiator of the Grail Quest, he eventually retires by turning himself into a bird. Was Merlin real?  This contrasts with the popular folk etymology that the town was named after the bard. The 9th-century monk Nennius, described as "inventive" in his history writing, wrote about Merlin, a fatherless Ambrosius, and prophecies.  Myrddin/Merlin also shares similarities with the shamanic bard figure of Taliesin, alongside whom he appears in the Welsh Triads and in Vita Merlini. Geoffrey Ashe, a historian, and co-founder and secretary of the Camelot Research Committee wrote about Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Arthurian legend. In A.D. 540, Gildas wrote De Excidio Britanniae ("The Ruin of Britain") which includes a historical explanation. Geoffrey's account of Merlin Ambrosius' early life is based on the tale of Ambrosius in the Historia Brittonum. Gallery. Merlin, the magus who served as a tutor to young Arthur Pendragon before he became king, has become almost universally known as the mentor to all those youth seeking wisdom, spiritual values, and material prosperity. Other spellings of Merlin include Merle, Merl, Meryl, Murl, Murle, Merlen, Merlinn, Merlyn, Merlynn, and Merlino. These events will come to have a dramatic impact on the great King Arthur. Geoffrey asserted that the characters are the same with references to King Arthur and his death, as told in the Historia Regum Britanniae. His powers were convincingly real—and useful, for they helped to add credibility to the "long-lost" history of Britain which first revealed them to a European public. People who were certainly real and important are no better attested.". This infernal plot is thwarted when a priest named Blaise [fr] immediatel…  In some texts, including in Le Morte d'Arthur, she then replaces Merlin in the role of Arthur's court mage and adviser as a Lady of the Lake (the chief Lady in case of Malory's Nimue) following the 'last enchantement'. Contrary to the many modern works in which they are archenemies, Merlin and Morgan are never opposed to each other in any medieval tradition, other than Morgan forcibly rejecting him in some texts; in fact, his love for Morgan is so great that he even lies to the king in order to save her in the Huth Merlin, which is the only instance of him ever intentionally misleading Arthur. He does not tutor and advise Arthur as in later versions.. An ancient time in history, when the old laws of Yahweh under the Old Testament were succeeded by the new laws of the New Testament under the rule of Jesus Christ through the Universal Church (Catholic). What follows next is supposedly narrated in the mysterious text Conte del Brait (Tale of the Cry).  But fate cannot always be changed: the Post-Vulgate Cycle has Merlin warn Arthur of how the birth of his other son will bring great misfortune and ruin to his kingdom, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The character was created by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain (1136 CE) where he first appears as a wise and precocious youth with prophetic powers.  This madman, also known as Lailoken, has parallels with the Irish Suibhne (Sweeney),:58 roams the Caledonian Forest, until cured of his madness by Kentigern (Saint Mungo). In truth, it is impossible to say; especially if we are to look for the Merlin described in legend. Possibly based on a real person. [note 10] In the Prophéties de Merlin version, his tomb is unsuccessfully searched for by various parties, including by Morgan and her enchantresses, but cannot be accessed due to the deadly magic traps around it, while the Lady of the Lake comes to taunt Merlin by asking did he rot there yet. (Andy/ CC BY ND 2.0 ) Merlin and Ambrosius . While Merlin the Wizard was a very prominent character in the stories of Camelot, that is not where he originated. [note 13] The fulfilment of another prophecy, ascribed to Thomas the Rhymer, came about when a spate of the Tweed and Pausayl occurred during the reign of the Scottish James VI and I on the English throne: "When Tweed and Pausayl meet at Merlin's grave, / Scotland and England one king shall have. In Nennius' account, Ambrosius was discovered when the British king Vortigern attempted to errect a tower at Dinas Emrys. Notably, the Post-Vulgate Suite (along with an earlier version of the Prose Merlin) was the main source for the opening part of Thomas Malory's English-language compilation work Le Morte d'Arthur that formed a now-iconic version of the legend. The literary character of Merlin seems to have derived in part from two historical characters, and perhaps others. :200 One site of his tomb is said to be Marlborough Mound in Wiltshire, known in medieval times as Merlebergia. [note 2] This infernal plot is thwarted when a priest named Blaise [fr] immediately baptizes the boy at birth (in Brittany), thus freeing him from the power of Satan and his intended destiny. N.S. When brought before the king, Ambrosius revealed that below the foundation of the tower was a lake containing two dragons, battling into each other. Medievalist Gaston Paris suggests that Geoffrey chose the form Merlinus rather than the expected *Merdinus to avoid a resemblance to the Anglo-Norman word merde (from Latin merda) for feces. While Nennius' Ambrosius eventually reveals himself to be the son of a Roman consul, Geoffrey's Merlin is begotten on a king's daughter by an incubus demon. As Lewis Thorpe notes, Merlin disappears from the narrative subsequently. Merlin, enchanter and wise man in Arthurian legend and romance of the Middle Ages, linked with personages in ancient Celtic mythology (especially with Myrddin in Welsh tradition). Here, Merlin survives Arthur, marries a woman named Guendoloena (inspired by the male Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio),:44 and eventually spends his time observing stars from his esplumoir [fr] with seventy windows, in the remote woods in the land of Rhydderch. / Today I shall end my present life engulfed in the waves. He added his own embellishments to the tale, which he set in Carmarthen, Wales (Welsh: Caerfyrddin). "Narratives and Non-Narrtives: Aspects of Welsh Arthurian Tradition. The earliest English verse romance concerning Merlin is Of Arthour and of Merlin, which drew from the chronicles and the Vulgate Cycle. Merlin was born sometime during the medieval era. Apparently worried that the Anglo-Norman audience would take offense at the similarity between the name Merdinus and merde, Geoffrey changed the prophet's name. It is common belief that Merlin was created as a figure for Arthurian legend . However, we have little information from the actual time period--three dates and the writing of Gildas and St. Patrick, who rarely writes about Britain. Vortigen's wise men advised him that the only solution was to sprinkle the foundation with the blood of a child born without a father. Merlin's traditional biography casts him as a cambion, a being born of a mortal woman, sired by an incubus, from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities, most commonly and notably prophecy and shapeshifting. The following is a further attempt to date and identify King Arthur that places Arthur earlier in time than the end of the Roman Empire, and suggests the name Arthur may have been used as an honorary title rather than a personal name. Eventually, it was directly incorporated into the Vulgate Cycle as the Estoire de Merlin, also known as the Vulgate Merlin or the Prose Merlin. The Prophéties de Merlin (c. 1276) contains long prophecies of Merlin (mostly concerned with 11th to 13th-century Italian history and contemporary politics), some by his ghost after his death, interspersed with episodes relating Merlin's deeds and with assorted Arthurian adventures in which Merlin does not appear at all. 9. Geoffrey's rendering of the character was immediately popular, especially in Wales. Merlin the wizard. Geoffrey of Monmouth Latinised the name to Merlinus in his works. (This represented the struggle between the invading Saxons and the native Celtic Britons.) Niniane, as the Lady is known in the Livre d'Artus continuation of Merlin, breaks his heart prior to his later second relationship with Morgan, but here the text actually does not tell how exactly Merlin did vanish, other than relating his farewell to Blaise. Here are just 10 real-life wizards and sorcerers who used magic for a lot more than just party tricks. In American literature and popular culture, Merlin is perhaps the most frequently portrayed Arthurian character. An Introduction to Ancient (Classical) History, M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota, There may have been a real Merlin, such as the one Nikolai Tolstoy describes in. (The stones, in actuality, came from the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales. These and other similarities suggest to Tolstoy that there was a real Merlin figure who stood for Lug in the Celtic spiritual practices of that time. A British archaeologist has controversially claimed that King Arthur was not a real historical figure. This site's translated passages mention Vortigern and Ambrosius Aurelianus. He based it on stories of the original 6th-century Myrddin, set long after his time frame for the life of Merlin Ambrosius. This armor set had a long dress, and she wore high-heeled boots. " In a version with a happier ending, contained within the Premiers Faits section of the Livre du Graal, Niniane peacefully confines him in Brocéliande with walls of air, visible only as a mist to others but as a beautiful yet unbreakable crystal tower to him (however Merlin's disembodied voice can escape his air prison, as he does speak to Gawain), where they then spend almost every night together. The 1st Use of the Name Artorius (Arthur). Merlin is a masculine name of Welsh origin. [note 1] His standard depiction, based on an amalgamation of historical and legendary figures, was introduced by the 12th-century British author Geoffrey of Monmouth. The story of King Arthur and Merlin is the allegorical tale of an actual real life epic religious battle, that is playing out to this very day. Since we don't have the necessary fifth and sixth-century records, it's impossible to say absolutely that Merlin did or did not exist. Was Merlin real? Belle N. Burke (trans), Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, "Frequently Asked Questions about the Arthurian Legends | Robbins Library Digital Projects", Annales Cambriae, from Saint Patrick to AD 682: Texts A, B & C in Parallel, https://books.google.com/books?id=cTY44q6n0MgC&pg=PA19, "Arthurian Legend in the Seventeenth Century", "Arthur and Gawain - Robbins Library Digital Projects", "Echoes of Legend: Magic as the Bridge Between a Pagan Past and a Christian Future in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur", "The Enchantress, the Knight and the Cleric: Authorial Surrogates in Arthurian Romance, "Studies in the fairy mythology of Arthurian romance", "Merlin | Robbins Library Digital Projects", Locations associated with Arthurian legend, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Merlin&oldid=991757131, Characters in works by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Fictional characters with neurological or psychological disorders, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Cornish-language text, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 1 December 2020, at 17:45. [note 11], The legendary Brocéliande is often identified as the real-life Paimpont forest in Brittany. , In chivalric romance tradition, Merlin has a major weakness that leads him to his relatively early doom: young beautiful women of femme fatale archetype.
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