Swordmage-type characters from mythology and folklore?

My impression is that swordmage-type characters (ie, those who mix martial ability and magical ability in equal measure) are a trope of modern fantasy literature, rather than something derived from any mythology or folklore. Like lizard men and other things, they're pretty basic to modern FRPGs, but are actually a recent invention. Can anyone provide any examples of such a character from myth or folklore?

I can think of characters like Vainamoinen who are certainly magical in nature, and engage in some physical combat, but the fighting isn't really intrinsic to the character's nature. I'm hoping there might be some better examples, but I think the fact that there are so many different names used in RPGs for this type of character (swordmage, swordsage, duskblade, hexblade, suggests it's not an archetype that has been around long enough to have its own established moniker.
 

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Voadam

Legend
Merlin in some tellings. I vaguely remember in Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle that Merlin starts out as a young sword swinging warrior type as a magical young man. But I read those in the 90s so it has been a while. This lines up with Gandalf using a magic sword in the Hobbit and LotR.
 

Haiku Elvis

Explorer
I would say you are onto something. If you look at old Celtic heros they were warriors and magical in equal measure but not in a spellcaster way. More in a each stride takes seven leages and if my head is chopped off I'll still talk to you until you plant it in the right field and I'll grow again kinda way.
I would say our image of the wizard spellcaster is younger than most myths. Even Odin quoted above didn't roll out the fireball when in a fight.
 




The aforementioned Celtic heroes like Manannán mac Lir and Cuchulain come to mind as using spells and swords. And the Norse tales are filled with those that wielded weapon and magic, like Frey and Odin. From Africa, Mwindo wields spells and a magic scepter as a weapon.
 

Thanks for the replies!

Gandalf definitely fits under modern fantasy fiction, for as much as Tolkien was inspired by various myths, he certainly added his own things. Merlin is interesting, but it if depends on a modern retelling, once again that's modern fantasy. I'm not super-familiar with Cu Chalainn and Manannan, but my impression is that they were warriors first and foremost. Cu Chulainn is known for his battle frenzy, but that seems more berserkerish than wizardly to me.

Odin is the best suggestion, but not really what I'm looking for since he's a very powerful god rather than a human-level character. To be fair, I didn't really specify that in the OP. If Odin is the only one able to do this, it wasn't seen as something that a human could accomplish presumably.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Maui is a shapechanger and fisherman who beat up the sun
Wukong the Monkey King,
Arjuna the Archer
Taliesin the Bard (if distinct from the Merlin)
 

Voadam

Legend
Most wizards and witches in mythology and folklore could not do D&D battle magic.

Original Chainmal magic user fireballs and lightning bolts were fantasy stand-ins for artillery and howitzer fire in miniature warfare games, not modelling any fantasy or folklore.

Cloudkill was mustard gas.

Giants were walking living catapults that warriors could engage and fight.

Elements of myth and folklore and fantasy magic got grafted onto D&D spellcasters, like parting water, turning sticks into snakes, and creating food and water from the Bible getting added onto the cleric spell lists but they were not the basis for base D&D combat magic.
 

Most wizards and witches in mythology and folklore could not do D&D battle magic.

Fully agree. I'm not asking about whether D&D magic was based on mythology and folklore, because it clearly isn't. I'm just asking if there are any examples in mythology and folklore of what has become a standard trope in modern fantasy. My guess is that there isn't, really, but was wondering if anyone had any that I had missed.
 

Arjuna the Archer
Taliesin the Bard (if distinct from the Merlin)
I do feel like the Pandavas come close, but my understanding is that they were warrior-scholars, not explicitly magicians.

And I thought Teliesin was purely a bard, don't think there are any stories of particular martial prowess are there?
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Fully agree. I'm not asking about whether D&D magic was based on mythology and folklore, because it clearly isn't. I'm just asking if there are any examples in mythology and folklore of what has become a standard trope in modern fantasy. My guess is that there isn't, really, but was wondering if anyone had any that I had missed.
Yeah the Wizard as a concept of self actuated caster, is a modern invention that didnt exist prior to 20th (maybe 19th) century.
Merlin is a cambion and spell casting in general is the provenance of (demi)-gods, spirits or as you say tricksters and warrior-scholars
Meanwhile I think these two fit much better under the "trickster" archetype (which is everywhere in mythology) much better than what modern RPGers often call a gish.
 

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