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An ancient magician of Britain, who supposedly dwelt at the court of King Arthur. His origin is obscure, but early legends pertaining to him concur that he was the offspring of an incubus, or Satan, but it is also suggested that he was an early Celtic god or sky deity, who with the passage of time ended up being regarded as a great wizard.
There appears to have existed more than just one Merlin, the welshman who became a bard of King Arthur and supposedly died after a terrible battle between Britons and their Romanized compatriots circa AD 570 and the warlock Merlin Caledonius, a northern Britain madman with no connection to King Arthur, also known as Myrddin Wyllt or Merlinus Caledonensis. A probability is that both characters sprung from the same origin or idea. The 'Seal of Merlin' the letter V with a crown over it is thought to stand for an association with the Roman Legions or the Dux Bellorum (Roman War Duke, a military appointment by the Emperor).
Merlin owe most of his notoriety to Geoffrey of Monmouth and his Historia Regum Britanniae, published circa 1139. Geoffrey's version of the character was immediately popular, and later writers expanded the account to produce a fuller image of the wizard. In the Arthurian legend Merlin was the offspring of an unholy union between an incubus from whom he inherited his supernatural abilities and an unsuspecting, sleeping human female. A zealous priest succeeded in baptizing him before his infernal parent could carry him off, thus freeing him from the power of Satan and his evil nature.
Merlin matured into a powerful sorcerer, and assisted Pendragon, the British king who was slain in a battle with the Saxons. He then became a counselor to the kings brother, Uther Pendragon, and eventually to Uther's son, Arthur. It was on Merlin's advice that Uther established the Round Table and found his true heir through the sword-in-the-stone test.
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