King Arthur And Merlin

.. different aspects of Merlin Merlin is a popular character when it comes to the stories of King Arthur and other stories dealing with the Arthurian age. In most of the stories written about him they refer to him as the magician, kingmaker, and prophet. We also know him as the one that takes care of Arthur from birth, who set him on the throne, who established him there in the early days of his reign as king. While most books agree that he knew King Arthur and watched over him from birth, what was he really, was he a magician with a beard in a tall pointed hat and long cloak with a magic wand that performed magic or was he a prophet that could for see the future as portrayed in the “Crystal Cave” or was he something else.

In the “Crystal Cave” Merlin is portrayed as a prophet that can see into the future with the help of the pattern of crystals in the cave that he discovered. Here he is not portrayed as a magician but rather it shows us his technical abilities, like when he moved “Hele Stone” of Stonehenge with the machine he built, rather then raising the whole stone or causing it to fly through the air or float across the sea. He is then portrayed as the “kingmaker” when at the end he is given Arthur to raise and teach so he would be ready to take over the thrown when he got older. Merlin may also be known as a lover “Last Enchantment”, when while under Arthurs rule, Merlin retires to the wilderness and there is attacked y a subtle poison given to him by Morgause, he is later nursed back to health by a young girl named Ninian. After that Ninian becomes Merlins pupil until in the end when his powers begin to fade and she takes over the role of guardian of Arthurs realm.

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“Merlins more passionate side is also showed in a book written by James Branch Cabell. In the book titled “Something About Eve” Merlin is summoned along with King Solomon and Odysseus to give an account of himself before the passes into the realms of the otherworld to discover the true meaning of his life, here Merlin confesses that he was happy for a long time in his tower, until he saw his people of the Arthurian age begin to break each other and to become filled with hate and lust and barbarity. But even then he lingers on, happy with his child love and peace of his tower, only now does he seek enlightenment in the Otherworld, where he might find failure of his dream.”(Stewart, 96) Merlin for whatever reason does not cease to be concerned with this world and the people who live in it. Merlins love of women, sometimes moralized into a sexual weakness, is a reflection of his otherworldly fathers love for his mother. This in turn relates to one of the most ancient mythical themes, and like all Merlinic lore is intimately concerned with both environment and the spiritual intimations found in all religions, magic, and mysticism. Thus the various sexual convolutions of Merlin in the modern fiction are not merely misunderstandings of the source of material but are explorations of a universal theme expressed through the mediating figure of Merlin. Merlin is also seen as a teacher, like in Parke Godwins “Firelord”.

Here Merlin is in a sense Arthurs own inner self, able to show him a vision of the future, of the great king and warrior whose presence draws the very utmost effort from the men who follow him, the man that Arthur is to become, driven by the Merlin within. In T.H. Whites “The Sword in the Stone” Merlin teaches by example, turning Arthur into animal, fish, or bird. Doing so he learns many things, from his encounter with a great pike that lives beneath the walls of his foster-fathers castle, he learns that power for its own sake leads nowhere. Arthur as a bird discovers that boundaries are an illusion fought over without reason.

All that he learns allows him to portray his good character as he pulls the sword from the stone that made him king. Him being a teacher is also seen in the “Crystal Cave” when he is given Arthur at birth to teach because he did not have a father that wanted him, and so his mother thought that giving the child to Merlin would be the wisest thing to do. In Catherine Christians “The Sword and the Flame” it has Merlin arranging for Arthur to acquire his second, more famous sword, Excalibur. Instead of him receiving the sword from the Lady of the Lake, Merlin assists in its forging by an ancient Smith God from a lump of meteorite. “That the shaping of King or sword may extend beyond a single lifetime is shown in those versions of the story where Merlin or Arthur come again, after a long sleep, in Avalon or the Hawthorn Tower, to continue the work left unfinished at the end of the Arthurian Age.” (Stewart, 99) When writing about Merlin there are three aspect that authors look into, the bright youth, the mad prophet and shaman, and the wise elder.

All three are concerned with the interaction of spiritual and magical powers, with a strong emphasis in the works of John Cowper-Powys and C.S. Lewis. Merlin born of a moral mother and an otherworld spirit according to the chronicles acts as the mediator for deep powers manifesting through the land into human consciousness. His threefold appearance is initially that of the lifetime of any person, youth, adulthood, maturity, but into each of these aspects is channeled the most potent dynamic power, imagery, and mystery of each life phase. As a youth, he is the eternal child, of spiritual purity, as a mature man he is the wild fervent power of magic or transforming consciousness, as an elder he is the epitome of wisdom, learning, transcendent knowledge, and experience.

” In fictional works unconnected to one another, this coherence out of diversity is apparent and occasionally the deep ancient god-form appears, the non-human power behind the semi-human Merlin. This power may also take a number of shapes. But what is remarkable is that authors of quite different style, cultural background and quality of work may be imaginatively aware of its existence. There is no chronicle source for Merlin as a god or titanic power, only a few hints in early Welsh poetry. Later romances and chronicles were divided between the magician of Arthurs court and the increasingly orthodox image of a diabolical being, though there is no mention of Merlin linked to Arthur in the early sources, and certainly no question of evil.”(Stewart, 82) Merlin has remained dark and mysterious despite everything. Yet somehow, none of those who have chosen to write about him have been able to resist asking the question of whom or what he is.

Answers they have come up with are different from author to author, picturing him as god or jester, as a prophet, wiseman, as an old lover as an alien being brought to earth on cosmic business, as a wondrous child or as a charlatan and a liar and a madman. But always, between the disguises, we glimpse another face, that of an old pilgrim and wanderer, sent here long ago to guide and guard the destiny of kings and of men. We perhaps know Merlin best in his most familiar appearance, him being the wise and foresighted wizard who stands behind Arthur in the early days of his reign who acts as advisor and councilor to the young king until he himself is ensnared by a beautiful young woman who becomes his apprentice.