Nimue Traps Merlin, West Wales
Rather than thinking of the legend of King Arthur , we do better to consider the Arthurian legends, plural. The stories seem to have been based on the struggles of the British after the Romans had quit these islands in the early 5th century, the time we rather judgementally refer to as The Dark Ages. Story telling would have been as much an art as writing novels or plays is now, with a multitude of minstrel-poets amusing the powerful, counsellors using allegory for instruction; and even parents and nurses telling bedtime stories.
One of the legends peripheral to the main history of Arthur is that of Merlin, son of a devil and a human woman, who grew to be a great seer and wizard. His story touches Arthurís in his enchanting of Uther to make him appear to be the husband of Arthurís mother, the union of Uther and Igraine leading to Arthurís birth. We also probably know that it was Merlin who devised the sword-in-the-stone moment to prove Arthurís fitness to rule. But another side of the great magician comes out of the tale of his end, brought down (naturally) by love.
Merlin was besotted by a beautiful young woman named Nimue (though she has numerous alternative names Ė Vivien, Nyeve, Elaine and Myish among others). She wanted to learn his magical secrets and gain his powers; so she persuaded the far older wizard to teach her, journeying with him everywhere he travelled. Fearing he would use magic to force himself upon her Nimue extracted a promise he would not do this; indeed he would never use his powers against her Ė a fatal decision, and one that he made having foreseen his own demise, such was his love.
When finally Nimue had learned all Merlin had to teach Nimue turned on her tutor, who through his promise was powerless against her: she entombed him beneath a stone, or in a soon sealed cave, where he is trapped to this day. That prison in the earth is said to be at Abergwili just outside Carmarthen , the ancient magician still to be found beneath Merlinís Hill.
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