27th May 2020
IN SEARCH OF MERLIN
Professor John Carey
Merlin is known to all of us as the great magician of the Arthurian cycle, but he is more than that: on a profound level, he is that cycle’s originating author. It is he who devised the Round Table, he who engineered the conception of Arthur himself, he whose foreknowledge contained the whole glory and downfall of the Arthurian age. But what are the roots of this enigmatic figure? It seems symptomatic that Geoffrey of Monmouth, the first author to use the name ‘Merlin’, gave two accounts of him, so different that it was almost immediately concluded that there had been two Merlins: the clues lead in divergent and increasingly puzzling directions. This talk will examine the earliest evidence, placing it in the broader context of the narrative traditions of the Celtic peoples, and suggesting a possible source for the legends.
This lecture paper is now available to read on the Programme of Events page.
[Image: Merlin dictating his prophecies to his scribe, Blaise; French 13th century miniature]