chapter  I
The Good Magician before Merlin: Secular Tales and Saints' Lives
Pages 31

Before we examine the figure of Merlin proper, a brief study of

similar figures in Celtic literature may help us later to understand

some aspects of the primary figure and the types of romances in

which he appears. In Merlin's portrayal at least two different, but

not incompatible, literary traditions converge: (1) vernacular,

secular Celtic tales, and (2) Celtic (i.e., early British and Irish)

saints' lives. Both traditions display a variety of fantasy and

contain magic-working figures. While wielders of magic are not

unique to the Celtic world, the use here of only Celtic works will

serve to emphasize the cultural and literary milieu into which

Merlin is born.