This documentary takes a look at the mythical roots in art and literature of Merlin – magician, hero and historical mystery.
Known best for the Arthurian legends, Merlin is the archetypal wizard. He is Welsh and Celtic in origin but with connections across the water in Cornwall and middle Europe. Clearly, Merlin is the distant relative of Dumbledore and all those weird and wonderful wizards in literature.
The name “Merlin” is said to be derived from the Welsh Myrddin, the name of the bard Myrddin Wyllt, one of the chief sources for the later legendary figure. Geoffrey of Monmouth Latinised the name to Merlinus in his works. Medievalist Gaston Paris suggests that Geoffrey chose the form Merlinus rather than the regular Merdinus to avoid a resemblance to the Anglo-Norman word merde for feces.
Clas Myrddin or Merlin’s Enclosure is an early name for Great Britain stated in the Third Series of Welsh Triads. Celticist A. O. H. Jarman suggests that the Welsh name Myrddin was derived from the toponym Caerfyrddin, the Welsh name for the town known in English as Carmarthen. This contrasts with the popular folk etymology that the town was named for the bard. The name Carmarthen is derived from the town’s previous Roman name Moridunum, in turn derived from Celtic Brittonic moridunon, “sea fortress”.