Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard of Arthurian legend . The standard depiction of the character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth 's Historia Regum Britanniae , finished in 1138, and is based on an amalgamation of previous historical and legendary figures. Geoffrey combined existing stories of Myrddin Wyllt (Merlinus Caledonensis), a North British madman with no connection to King Arthur , with tales of the Romano-British war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus to form the composite figure he called Merlin Ambrosius, a prophet with mystical powers.

Geoffrey's rendering of the character was immediately popular; later writers expanded the account to produce a fuller image of the wizard. Merlin's traditional biography casts him as born of mortal woman, sired by an incubus, the non-human wellspring from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities. Merlin matures to an ascendant sagehood and engineers the birth of Arthur through magic and intrigue. Later authors have Merlin serve as the king's adviser until he is bewitched and imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake.

Geoffrey's account of Merlin Ambrosius' early life in the Historia Regum Britanniae is based on the story of Ambrosius in the Historia Brittonum . He adds his own embellishments to the tale, which he sets in Carmarthen, Wales (Welsh: Caerfyrddin ). While Nennius's Ambrosius eventually reveals himself to be the son of a Roman consul, Geoffrey's Merlin was begotten on a king's daughter by an incubus. The story of Vortigern 's tower is essentially the same; the underground creatures, one white and one red, represent the Saxons and the British, and their final battle is a portent of things to come.


Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard of Arthurian legend . The standard depiction of the character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth 's Historia Regum Britanniae , finished in 1138, and is based on an amalgamation of previous historical and legendary figures. Geoffrey combined existing stories of Myrddin Wyllt (Merlinus Caledonensis), a North British madman with no connection to King Arthur , with tales of the Romano-British war leader Ambrosius Aurelianus to form the composite figure he called Merlin Ambrosius, a prophet with mystical powers.

Geoffrey's rendering of the character was immediately popular; later writers expanded the account to produce a fuller image of the wizard. Merlin's traditional biography casts him as born of mortal woman, sired by an incubus, the non-human wellspring from whom he inherits his supernatural powers and abilities. Merlin matures to an ascendant sagehood and engineers the birth of Arthur through magic and intrigue. Later authors have Merlin serve as the king's adviser until he is bewitched and imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake.

Geoffrey's account of Merlin Ambrosius' early life in the Historia Regum Britanniae is based on the story of Ambrosius in the Historia Brittonum . He adds his own embellishments to the tale, which he sets in Carmarthen, Wales (Welsh: Caerfyrddin ). While Nennius's Ambrosius eventually reveals himself to be the son of a Roman consul, Geoffrey's Merlin was begotten on a king's daughter by an incubus. The story of Vortigern 's tower is essentially the same; the underground creatures, one white and one red, represent the Saxons and the British, and their final battle is a portent of things to come.

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The Merlin Trail - follow in the footsteps of Merlin.


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