Omo Press

Home Page

email us




A Medieval Ballad

Edited by George Ellis

new material in this book copyright © 2020

Merlin Cover

Buy or preview the book

The Little-Known Merlin

This medieval romance includes parts of the Merlin legend, that most people do not know, beginning with his birth as the son of a devil and a mortal woman, his legal defense of his mother when he was still an infant, and the prophesies that made as a young child.

It tells the stories of how he counseled King Vortigern and King Uther Pendragon, manipulated Uther into fathering Arthur, took the new-born Arthur away from his mother, and advised Arthur after he became king, often manipulating Arthur by taking the forms of different people.

This ballad survived only in manuscript form until 1805, when George Ellis published it as part of his book Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances.

Ellis’ Specimens is a unique work. It is an anthology of medieval ballads that Ellis retells in a very complete paraphrase, which is almost a lose prose translation, with selections from the original verse ballad interspersed in the modern retelling. There is no word describing what Ellis did to these earlier works, so this edition simply calls Ellis the editor.

Ellis was much admired by other writers of his time, including Sir Walter Scott, for making these ancient ballads accessible to a modern audience.
This book is a must for scholars who want to study the history of the Arthurian legend. And for those who read it because they love the Arthurian legend, it is as enjoyable today as it was in Scott’s time.