The Hollow Hills Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What story does Merlin tell the young goat herd who is caring for him after he injures his hand? Why does he tell him the story?

Anxious to lay the foundations for the common people's perceptions of Arthur, the child who will be born, Merlin weaves a tale of enchantment surrounding his conception. He tells the young goat herd that, with his magic, he was able to disguise High King Uther as Gorlois, the late Duke of Cornwall and former husband to Queen Ygraine. Once inside the castle, Uther lies with Ygraine and Arthur is conceived.

2. What are some of the extraordinary qualities attributed to Merlin? How many, if any, of them are true? What is the truth about Merlin?

Some of the extraordinary qualities attributed to Merlin include the rumor that his father, the late King Ambrosius, consulted his young son on all of his decisions, that he can read the future in a candle flame, and can direct the course of a battle from a hilltop a mile away. The truth about Merlin is that he is exceptionally studied in engineering and in medicine. Merlin's uncle, Uther, never cared for his nephew and, following the death of Ambrosius, Merlin went into seclusion until he emerged to play the part of facilitator in the recent business with Uther and Ygraine.

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