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The mysterious figure of Merlin has captivated literature and the mind of storytellers throughout the ages The presence and spirit of his character is felt not only in recent incarnations such as the wizard Gandalf in JR Tolkiens The Hobbit but also in the traditional role as advisor to King Arthur in medieval literature most prominently in the books of Geoffrey of Monmouth This widespread influence of Merlin however only serves to accentuate the mystery and intrigue that surrounds him Thus the simple question is raised who was Merlin Unfortunately the answer is not quite as simple By analyzing historical facts and literature we can come to the relatively easy conclusion that the Merlin we associate with the legend of King Arthur was in fact two separate individuals whose life stories were intertwined by Geoffrey of Monmouth However a deeper examination of the literature and legends reveals a more complex thesis the figure of Merlin was not any one person but rather the embodiment of a timeless character- a powerful mystical god-like figure that represents the people of the land- that has played an influential role in Britains history and literature In order to better understand the character of Merlin we must first examine the texts that made him so famous Geoffrey of Monmouths Prophecies of Merlin and History of the Kings of Britain By comparing and contrasting these texts with other historical literature we can get a more comprehensive understanding of who or what Merlin is Written in the 12th century Geoffreys texts introduced the basic story of Merlin- an important element in determining the character of Merlin Born in the 5th century during the reign of the usurping British King Vortigern Merlin was the son of a young woman and an incubus a demon who had seduced the woman at night After conquering the British nobles with the help of the Saxons Vortigern attempts to build a fortress however whatever foundations his
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