As a student on superhero stories (comics and movies), I appreciate a good origin story. We all want to know where the hero came from—though I thank Marvel for skipping a third version of Spidey’s origins on the big screen (please do the same for the Fantastic Four now that they’re back!).
We have it with Arthur. But we don’t with Merlin. Throughout Arthurian legend, people speculate that he’s the son of a devil. I think we need to examine and deconstruct this. Merlin certainly doesn’t seem to act evil. He set up the conditions that allows Arthur’s birth. He dispenses great wisdom to Arthur. He sees the future and warns of evil. If anything, he is a force for good.
So why is he the son of a devil?
By the time Arthur’s stories are coming out, we’ve had centuries under Christianity since the Roman Emperor Constantine had made his great transition to Christianity in the early 300s. So we’ve been under a binary mythological system for all that time. God is the source of all good and Satan is the source of all evil. There are no other options. Supernatural power comes from one of these two sources. Period. End of discussion. If it’s not from God, it’s from the devil.
We also know that there is only one son of God, Jesus. This is part of why Arthur isn’t divinely born, and we have to go through all the trouble with the sword to get the divine mandate. Except, there was a simpler way.