A magician is a practitioner of magic who attains objectives or acquires knowledge using supernatural means. Throughout history, there have been many who have claimed having secret knowledge was a result of supernatural powers, insofar as certain platitudes alluding to an ability and knowledge of the occult (literally, "hidden") techniques often felt could be of great importance. Perhaps the oldest example of this is knowledge of the jealously guarded secret of the making and tending of fire. In particular, the practice of alchemy contains many elements that in the modern era would now be considered magical, while other sciences unknown by practitioners of the past have been incorporated into the study and application of chemistry.
Legends in medieval Europe attributed Virgil with prophetic powers, and sometimes more magical abilities, as in the fairy tale "Virgilius the Sorcerer" collected in The Violet Fairy Book. The figure of Faust appears to have been based on an actual alchemist, Johann Georg Faust, who was accused in his lifetime of practising magic. Merlin, a magician of Arthurian Legend, is among many other legendary characters with a basis in fact or, indeed, pure fiction.