chapter  II
Merlin the Prophet: Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia
Pages 28

When Merlin is introduced for the first time by Geoffrey of

Monmouth in the Historia Regum Britanniae (HRB), he is clothed in

motifs which he will never shed. Geoffrey creates (or perhaps

perpetuates from lost narratives) what we now recognize as the world

of Arthurian history and pre-history, and he establishes Merlin's

basic role in relation to that world. The HRB encompasses almost

2,000 years of British history, but Merlin's role, while one among

many, is far from minor. 1 Unlike the HRB, Geoffrey's other work,

the Vita Merlini (YM), discussed in the next chapter, takes an

individualistic, pseudo-biographical approach. Here Merlin is the

major character. Neither of these two narratives is romance,

although each contains "romance elements" which were appropriated

and expanded upon in later writing. Each narrative does, however,

lay an implicit claim by reason of genre to being non-fiction-the

HRB as history, the VM as "life"—and neither is truly what it

purports to be. Geoffrey uses each genre and its conventions to his

own ends in each work, presuming, I think, that his reader has an

acquaintance with both historical and hagiographical writings to

help in understanding his narratives.