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There is bitter controversy among scholars and theologians alike as to whether of not Merlin was a real historical figure or a product of literary imagination. Much of the earlier poetry attributed to him in Welsh manuscripts, it seems, comes from authentic prophetic verse that Merlin himself spoke. Merlin was first seen in Geoffrey of Monmouthís History of the Kings of Britain written c. 1136. Many people do not accept Geoffreyís words as truth. Many say that Geoffrey wrote Merlinís legendary Prophecy referring to twelfth-century politics of King Henry IIí court. Reality or legend, Merlin is still one of the most prominent and popular characters of Arthurian literature. Merlinís close relationship with King Arthur has led him to appear in a large majority of Arthurís stories.

There is also dispute as to whether there was one Merlin or two- in the historical context. The archives of Wales claim that, in fact, there were two Merlins. Some say that Merlinís story comes from a combination of Welsh traditions. This combination involves the great bard and prophet Myrddin and Nenniusí story of Ambrious (one with a non-human father who prophesized the British defeat of the Saxons). It is said that the older of the two was King Arthurís Merlin. He was born probably around 450 and died in 536. The longevity of his life span leads more to believe that there were two Merlins. The first of the two was named Merlin, and was a warrior in Arthurís court. The other, Myrddin, is said to have survived the battle of Arthuret, which led him to insanity. Both candidates were authors. Now Merlin and Myrddin have merged into one person. Scholars who do believe that he existed say that Merlin was responsible for the world-famous Prophecy.

In Geoffrey of Monmouthís book, Merlin assists Uther Pendragon and in responsible for transporting the stones of Stonehenge from Ireland, a major symbol of Britainís history. The prophecies of Merlin were incorporated into Geoffreyís seventh book. Merlin became very popular in the Middle Ages. Some say that he prophesized the birth of Arthur.

The myth of Merlin says that he was Arthurís adviser, prophet, and magician. Merlin, the man, is an enigma. His name is known as the wiser, older man who counseled Arthur. Some say that Merlin arranged for Arthur to be born to defend Britain from invasion. Merlin was counselor to four British kings: Vortigern, Ambrosius, Uther, and Arthur.

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