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Matter of Britain character
Sir Dinadan in a 1894 issue of Catholic World
First appearanceProse Tristan
In-universe information
OccupationKnight of the Round Table

Sir Dinadan (Dinadam, Dinadano, Dinadeira, Divdan, Dynadan) is a Knight of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend's chivalric romance tradition, appearing in the Prose Tristan and its adaptations including a part of Le Morte d'Arthur. Best known for his humor and pragmatism, Dinadan is a close friend of the protagonist Tristan.

Medieval literature[edit]

Dinadem's attributed arms

Like Palamedes and Lamorak, Dinadan was an invention of the Prose Tristan (a variant of the legend of Tristan and Iseult), and appeared in later retellings including the Post-Vulgate Cycle and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. He is the son of Brunor senior (the Good Knight Without Fear), a brother of his fellow Round Table knights Breunor le Noir and Daniel. Unlike most other knights in Arthurian romance, the practically-minded Dinadan prefers to avoid fights and considers courtly love a waste of time, though he is a brave fighter when he needs to be. Dinadan also appears in some other romances, such as in Escanor, where his strong distrust of women is a theme of comedy,[1] and in some variants of Les Prophéties de Merlin.

Le Morte d'Arthur[edit]

"How at a great feast that King Mark made came Eliot the harper and sang the lay that Dinadan had made." Arthur Rackham's illustration for The Romance of King Arthur (1917), abridged from Le Morte d'Arthur by Alfred W. Pollard

Malory's Dinadan is well known for his cynical humor and joking nature, and for his mockery of chivalry.[2] He is visiting the court of Cornwall seeking his friend, the young hero Tristan (Tristram), and has supper with the young Queen Iseult (La Beale Isoud) where he reveals that he has, by his own desire, no lady-love or paramour in whose name to do great deeds. Dinadan is also often portrayed as the wittiest of all of Arthur's knights, and a source and target of practical jokes. In Le Morte d'Arthur, he is one of the few knights to be able to recognise his armored fellows from more than just their shields; in one instance Tristan does not recognise his own king until Dinadan tells him. In one notable exploit, he writes an insulting ballad about King Mark and sends a troubadour to play it at Mark's court. In another episode, he loses a joust when Lancelot catches him off guard by wearing a dress over his armour, and Lancelot then puts the dress on his unconscious opponent.

As summarized by to Joyce Coleman, "Margaret Schlauch hails the 'courtly realism' of Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur and, in particular, 'the comically realistic Sir Dinadan', whose jokes about his fear of jousting have his listeners laughing so hard they can barely keep their seats. 'Sir Dinadan, the realist' [Elizabeth Edwards], the 'rational moralist' ruled by a 'pragmatic creed' [Donald Hoffman], remains a standard figure of Malorian analysis."[3] However, some like Eugene Vinaver and Harold Livermore regard the humor of Malory's Dinadan as inferior to that in his French original sources, in which Dinadan's jokes are more offensive and subversive (targeting even religion).[4]

In Le Morte d'Arthur, following the Prose Tristan narrative, Dinadan dies when he returns from Cornwall, hoping to persuade King Arthur to reverse his ruling which had again set Mark on the throne. However Dinadan, still wounded from his fight against Brehu the Merciless, is treacherously ambushed and murdered by two other Knights of the Round Table, the brothers Mordred and Agravain, who hated him due to his closeness to their enemy Lamorak from the rival clan of King Pellinore. Hector de Maris finds Dinadan mortally wounded and takes him to Camelot, where he dies in Lancelot's arms.

Tavola Ritonda[edit]

In the Italian La Tavola Ritonda rewrite of the Prose Tristan, Dinadan (Dinadano) himself attempts to murder the captured Mark (Marco) in revenge for the death of his dear friend Tristan (Tristano), and Brehu the Merciless (Breus sanz Pietà) is actually his cousin. This version of Dinadan is characterized differently, as he is a violent misogynist who hates even Tristan's beloved Iseult (Isotta) and openly insults her as a "whore".[5][6] The only time Dinadan does fall in love with a woman is his brief affair with the evil Losanna of the Ancient Tower (Losanna della Torre Antica), which even causes him to turn against Tristan who fights to save Losanna's rival Tessina (whom Dinadan calls "whore" too). Dinadan's obsessively hostile attitude towards women earns him friendly mockery from Tristan. This includes a comical episode where, after Dinadan refuses to marry a daughter of Espinogres (here portrayed as a king, but in Malory's version a knight who is a companion of Tristan and Dinadan), Tristan enters Dinadan's room at night pretending to be her madly in love with him.

Modern fiction[edit]

Dinadan's modern appearances included the stage version and film adaptation of the musical Camelot, portrayed by John Cullum, Christopher Sieber, and (in the film) Anthony Rogers. He is protagonist of Gerald Morris' 2003 novel The Ballad of Sir Dinadan[7] as well as subject of the chapter "Sir Dinadan the Humorist" in Mark Twain's 1890 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brook, Leslie. "Demons and Angels: Female Portrayal in Escanor". www.reading.ac.uk. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  2. ^ Rovang, Paul (2014). Malory's Anatomy of Chivalry: Characterization in the Morte Darthur. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781611477795.
  3. ^ Arthurian Literature XXIII. 23. Boydell & Brewer. 2006. ISBN 9781843840978. JSTOR 10.7722/j.ctt820cc.
  4. ^ Glowka, Arthur Wayne (1986). "Malory's Sense of Humor". Arthurian Interpretations. 1 (1): 39–46. JSTOR 27868608.
  5. ^ Arthurian Literature XIX. 19. Boydell & Brewer. 2003. ISBN 9780859917452. JSTOR 10.7722/j.ctt81fpd.
  6. ^ Larrington, Carolyne (1 February 2004). "04.02.30, Busby, Dalrymple, eds., Arthurian Literature XIX". The Medieval Review. ISSN 1096-746X. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  7. ^ Morris, Gerald (2008). The Ballad of Sir Dinadan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780547349848.
  8. ^ "Chapter 4: "Sir Dinadan the Humorist" | A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court | Mark Twain". etc.usf.edu. Retrieved 21 February 2019.

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