The Arthur of the English Poets

By Howard Maynadier | Go to book overview

VI
MERLIN

THE story of Merlin, we have seen, appears as far back as the time of Nennius in fairly close connection with the story of Arthur; that is, only a few paragraphs before the account of Arthur's twelve battles. It tells of the boy of marvellous birth, whose name, according to Nennius, was Ambrosius, and according to Geoffrey, Ambrosius Merlin, and then simply Merlin.

How a closer union of this story and the Arthurstory came about cannot be said; but by the time Geoffrey of Monmouth writes, Merlin was already an important personage at Arthur's court, a sage revered for his prophetic powers. The first time the enlarged story of Merlin takes definite independent shape, with Merlin as the central figure, is in the Merlin of Robert de Boron , which seems to have borrowed a good deal of its material from Geoffrey's account. This poem, which was soon turned into prose, dealt not only with Merlin's life, but also with Arthur's career up to his coronation. For some reason or other, romancers whose names are not certainly known decided to carry the adventures of Merlin beyond that point; accordingly, early in the thirteenth century there were composed two different continuations to the prose version of Robert de Boron's poem. One of these, because it had the greater currency, is commonly called the

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The Arthur of the English Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • The Arthur of English Poets I the Vigor of the Arthurian Legends 1
  • Iii the Arthur of Popular Story 32
  • Iv the Chronicles and the Lais 50
  • Vi Merlin 79
  • Vii Lancelot 84
  • Viii the Holy Grail 106
  • Ix the Grail and the Swan-Knight 143
  • X Tristram and Iseult 153
  • Xi the Moulding of the Legends 175
  • Xiii Sir Thomas Malory 197
  • Xiv Caxton and the Transition 247
  • Xvi from Spenser to Milton 278
  • Xvii the Age of Prose and Reason 295
  • Xviii the Later Eighteenth Century 314
  • Xix the Early Nineteenth Century 335
  • Xx the High Tide of MediÆvalism 344
  • Xxi the Newer Spirit 378
  • Xxii Tennyson 410
  • Index 439
  • Index 441
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