MERLIN, King Arthur's adviser, who was also a prophet and a magician, is a fictional persona, who was originally the product of Geoffrey of Monmouth's research and imagination. Merlin has had many faces over the course of history - a bard, a tutor, an adviser, a sorcerer, and old fool who liked women too much, a crazy old man who learned how to talk to animals and was known as the Wild Man of the Woods. Merlin was a druid, a keeper of knowledge, and a person who is always close to nature.
Geoffrey wrote a book called History of the Kings of Britain in the 12th century. There was a bard and prophet in Wales called Myrddin. Legends say that his father was not human and that he also predicted the Saxons' victory over the English.
Geoffrey named his character Merlinus, as opposed to Merdinus (Merdinus is the correct Latin version of Myrddin) because Merdinus sounds like the vulgar French word "merde" (which means "shit") and would be unpleasant for his Anglo-Norman audience.
Merlin first appears as a boy. People think that his father is some sort of a demon so they bring him to the king who wants to kill him because his advisers told him that the boy's blood could fix the king's problem - his castle kept falling apart. But then the boy said that the reason for this was that the ground underneath the castle was not solid - there was an underground pool. Under the pool there were two dragons who fought one another. This is why the castle kept breaking down. The king ordered for a hole to be made in the ground, and when it was done there really were two dragons who flew out and fought one another on the surface. The two dragons are the symbols for Saxons and Britons (red dragon being the Britons and white dragon being the Saxons). Merlin said that the red will defeat the white, but this was not so.
In Geoffrey's book, Merlin helps to transport the stones of Stonehenge from Ireland, but he is NOT associated with Arthur. In fact, he was not present during Arthur's rule.
It was only later, in the middle ages that the character of Merlin became a part of the Arthur legends (including the fact that Merlin was involved in Arthur's conception and birth). Many poets and writers have used this character. For example Tennyson referred to him as the architect of Camelot.
Of course, most of us know Merlin from the legend of the Excalibur sword. Merlin said that the person who can pull the sword out of the rock is the rightful king. Arthur was the only one who could do so, so he became king. He later broke this sword.
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