Arthurian Legend In English Literature

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Arthurian Legend plays a major part of literature, and a major role in these legends is the ominous Merlin. The original legends were constantly changing to create the image we see today of not only Merlin but many of the characters in the legend. In the 21st century, many movies and TV shows portray Merlin as a powerful wizard whose sole purpose is to mentor and protect King Arthur, so he can one day rule Camelot. However, Merlin’s story is much more complex: Merlin “embodie[s] ancient Christian and pagan magical traditions, recreated for a medieval court and shaped to fit a new moral framework” (Lawrence-Mathers).
The Merlin recognized today is credited to Geoffrey and many other great writers who developed Geoffrey’s initial ideas. Geoffrey of Monmouth created Merlin as a character in 1136 AD in his work Historia Regum Britanniae – The History of Kings of Britain (the fictitious recollection of the British history). Many different legends and poems worked harmoniously to create inspiration for Geoffrey; in fact, “Geoffrey combined stories of North Brythonic prophet and madman, Myrddin Wyllt, and Romano-British war leader, Ambrosius Aurelianus, to create Merlin Ambrosius” (Reese). Although both of these characters are retained in Geoffrey’s work, there stories and histories are altered to better fit the
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“Geoffrey Of Monmouth.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Feb. 2018.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Merlin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Mar. 2017.
Lawrence-Mathers, Anne. The True History of Merlin the Magician. Preview, Yale University Press, 2012.
“Merlin.” Arthurian Biographies: Merlin, Britannia.
Reese, M R. “The Legendary Origins of Merlin the Magician.” Ancient Origins, Ancient Origins, 31 Jan. 2015.
Williams, J.E. Caerwyn, and David Greene. “Celtic Literature.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Aug.

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