Information About Merlin the Magician
From time to time, I am asked to provide information about Merlin the Magician to students of every possible academic level, from elementary school to college. I have never thought to set down all of my views about Merlin the Magician, because my views of him are very internal. After all, I have been playing him for 27 years. So I have in some cases blurred the lines separating the historical Merlin, such as he may have been from the Merlin that I play at the Renaissance Festivals.
Because of the wide spread in the levels of people who are asking information, it is also very difficult for me to provide information that will be suitable for all levels--an elementary school student does not need the same kind of information as a college student.
In order to gather material for your presentation, you will need to go to the library and look up material about Merlin. If you are an elementary school student, look him up in the encyclopedia. Also be sure to look under King Arthur or Arthurian Legends. If you are on the middle school level, take a look at The Once and Future King by T.H. White and The Book of Merlyn by the same author.
High school students will probably find the characters portrayed in Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory to be somewhat intriguing, as well as those in Steinbecks's The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights.
College students will look for more esoteric resources. The Tolstoy book, as well as the Geoffrey of Monmouth material will serve well here. The Merlin character I find most believable is the one described by Mary Stewart in her series. This is one of the main sources I have used as a foundation for my character, as I play him. The notes at the end of each volume are very informative.
If you need pictures for a slide show, take a look at The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends by Ronan Coughlan.
If Merlin had any particular function, it was to act as a catalyst to
Arthur, and to instruct him as well as possible in the art of being a
king. If he had any failing, it was that he taught him too little of the
logic of being a thinking ruler and too little of how to temper his
actions to suit the situation.
But then again, many rulers have that failing.
©1997, 1998 Bill Palmer. All rights reserved. For permission to republish contact Bill Palmer at the above e-mail address.