There are not many people or elements in Arthurian legend with names starting with D, so today I will present three short ones.
The first is literally short. He is Sir Dagonet, who is a dwarf and acts as King Arthur’s court fool in Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthure. He does that job well, though he would like to be a real knight. Unfortunately for him, he isn’t very brave and doesn’t tend to win in a fight. Mind you, Dagonet in the film King Arthur is a big, tough dude not remotely related to the jester of the mediaeval tales!
Sir Dinadan probably comes from the French, like Lancelot, but also appears in Malory. He is the court joker, as opposed to jester, enjoying practical jokes, though he is brave enough when he has to fight. He admires those who fight better than he does.
Mark Twain’s version(A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court)is called Dinadan the Humorist, whose idea of humour is to tie metal mugs to dogs’ tails. The courtiers think this is hilarious, though the novel’s hero, Hank Morgan, doesn’t. He also keeps telling jokes that Hank has heard over and over in his own time, including one that he absolutely loathes. When Hank introduces printing and Dinadan writes a joke book that includes that joke, Hank “suppressed the book and hanged the author”.
The mediaeval Dinadan dies more dramatically, in a revenge situation.
Finally, dragons. While we all think knights slaying dragons when we think of Camelot, there really aren’t too many in Arthurian literature and none I can recall in Malory. Sorry!
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th century book does mention a couple of dragons, but they are more symbolic than anything, the red dragon of the Britons and the white dragon of the Saxons, fighting each other. As I’m planning a post on this subject I won’t go into too much detail here.
Lancelot slays one in the Prose Lancelot. I can’t think of any others, though you may know of some.
|Lancelot. Arthur Rackham. Public domain.|
Apart from being heraldic beasts, Western dragons are connected with the Devil, unlike the wise and dignified Asian dragons. Malory, anyway, is mostly about knights fighting and slaying other knights, though there is magic in the Morte. There is the odd giant, sorceresses such as Arthur’s two half sisters Morgana and Morgause, there is Merlin the magician and his apprentice Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, magical swords, the story of the Holy Grail... but no dragons.
Tomorrow we will be checking out a couple of girls called Elaine, silly enough to fall in love with Lancelot. See you then!