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Friday, April 03, 2020

A To Z Blogging Challenge - D Is For Dagonet, Dinadan And Dragons!

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! 


AJ Blythe said...

My author friend, Gwendolyn Beynon, has written Arthurian based dragon stories: (a trilogy of which she's currently writing book 3).

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Anita!

Brian Joseph said...

I think that I have mentioned that I have neglected reading much of these tales throughout my life. Your excellent posts have convinced me that I really need to delve into this world.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Excellent! I hope you enjoy them.

Roland Clarke said...

I love Arthur Rackham's illustrations - and have The Ring of the Nibelung with his plates. However, the red dragon of the Britons and the white dragon of the Saxons, fighting each other is an image that seems to be from my childhood Arthurian encounters. But where from? [I have a Welsh red dragon on my desk - the same as the Welsh are the Britons.]

Sue Bursztynski said...

That image is from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s version. I think Merlin makes his first appearance there. I have a post planned about it, watch this space!

A Tarkabarka HΓΆlgy said...

Yup, if you actually want knights killing dragons and giants, you have to read the Dietrich sagas. Same idea, more fantasy :D Not that I don't love Arthur. He shows up in those too! :)

The Multicolored Diary

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

How disappointing that there aren't any dragons as pets in the Arthurian myths (probably because I would like a dragon or two).

An A-Z of Faerie: Duergar

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Ronel, I’m sure Hagrid would agree with you! πŸ˜‚

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hey, Zalka, Arthur did kill at least one giant in Malory! 😁

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

There should always be more dragons, at least that's what I think πŸ˜‚. I wonder why the letter D seems to be connected with humour.
Tasha πŸ’–
Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles

Sue Bursztynski said...

Good question, Tasha! No idea, I’m afraid! . And yes, dragons do lend a certain -something - to life when they arrive!

Melanie said...

Brilliant post - I've always been drawn to court jesters and jokers in history, and in literature as a concept and device. I hadn't heard of these ones so I'll have to add them to my research list!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Melanie! If you’re into historical jesters, you might know already about Rahere, Henry I’s jester, who threw it all up and became a monk, founding St Bartholomew’s Hospital. That story comes into Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Witch’s Brat. And there is, of course, Will Somers, Henry VIII’s jester.