The Cambion: The Myth of Merlin

Merlin, the mythical enchanter was the product of a union between a demonic spirit and a spiritual nun. The half human or cambion provided a bridge between new Christian beliefs and the old Celtic world. He first appears in Welsh cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth’s (1100 –1155) Historia Regum Britanniae. The book, which chronicled the lives of the Kings of the Britons, depicted the legendary King Arthur and the sorcerer who mentored him. The figure of Merlin was a composite of the imagined Myrddin Wyllt, a Welsh prophet of the sixth century and the real Aurelius Ambrosius, a Romano-Briton war leader of the fifth century. Arthurian Romances of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries credit the wizard with uniting a fractured Britain. An Italian manuscript page of the fourteenth century represents Merlin Tutoring Arthur. Howard Pyle (1853-1911) an American illustrator, wrote and illustrated King Arthur and his Knights showing The Enchanter Merlin. Scottish Symbolist painter John McKirdy Duncan (1866 -1945) was a part of the Celtic Revival. He chose many of the Arthurian legends as subjects for his paintings including Merlin and the Fairy Queen.