In the first half of Don Quixote, the book is being transcribed and narrated by Cervantes, who has apparently found the original story in an archive. In the novel’s second half, Cervantes reveals that he is in fact transcribing the story of Don Quixote from an actual historical text first created by Cide Hamete Benengeli. According to Cervantes, Cide Hamete Benegeli is an Arab Moor – an antiquated word that generally describes African or Arab Muslims – and a historian who originally recorded the true story of Don Quixote, implying that the novel is actually nonfiction and based on real historical events. Cervantes has discovered the records and is now rewriting them for the Spanish people to enjoy. These claims are completely fiction – like Cervantes the narrator, Cide Hamete Benengeli is yet another character that Miguel de Cervantes has created in order to further examine the concept of narration and the trustworthiness of the storyteller.

Cervantes the narrator makes it clear that Benengeli’s credentials as a historian are questionable. He initially accuses Benengeli – and all Moors – of being dishonest. He then consistently mocks Benengeli by ironically and hyperbolically complimenting the historian’s sageness and attention to detail, implying that Benengeli is actually the opposite of sage or attentive. In fact, even Don Quixote and Sancho discuss the possibility of their own narrative being originally discovered and related by Benengeli, and Don Quixote is concerned that Benengeli, due to his ethnic background, may not be the most trustworthy person to write his biography.

Cide Hamete Benegeli is yet another tool that Miguel de Cervantes uses to increase the metafictional qualities of Don Quixote. The inclusion of Benengeli could be a ploy to cause readers to assume the book is based on true events, but the comedic and derisive descriptions of Benengeli make it clear that he’s not meant to be a serious figure. Through Benengeli, Cervantes questions and critiques the recounting of chivalric, knightly tales as historical fact – by bringing Benengeli’s credentials into question, he also brings into question the idea that there was ever a golden age of nobility and knighthood in the first place. Benengeli’s untrustworthiness, despite his apparent scholastic abilities, also forces the reader to question their own faith in storytellers and historians. Cervantes uses Benengeli to humorously point out our predilection for believing our own myths, despite living in a reality that all but proves that these myths are simply romantic fantasies.