The myth of Merlin can be traced all the way back to ancient Celtic lore, but it wasn't until an English bishop published Historia regum Britanniae in 1135 that the wizard became, by medieval standards, a pop-culture icon. In the 874 years since then, the story of Merlin's life has changed with each telling. The man behind the myth has been variously described as the son of the devil, the product of God, a wilderness-loving madman, a worldly tutor and the prophet of the Holy Grail. But the tale of Merlin's role as royal adviser to King Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon remains the most memorable. As legend has it, it was Merlin's idea to establish the fellowship of the Round Table as well as to employ the Sword in the Stone test to determine the rightful heir to Uther's throne. Despite boasting a charmed legacy, even this most complicated and powerful of sorcerers apparently could not resist a certain femme fatale. According to the same legend, Merlin's obsession with the so-called Lady of the Lake would lead to his demise.
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