Daniel was born of a noble family at the castle of Ribeyrac in Périgord. He was the inventor of the sestina, a song of six stanzas of six lines each, with the same rhymes repeated in all, though arranged in different and intricate order, which must be seen to be understood. He was also author of the metrical romance of Lancillotto, or Launcelot of the Lake, to which Dante doubtless refers in his expression prose di romanzi ("proses of romance").
In Dante's work The Divine Comedy Arnaut Daniel appears as a character in doing penance in Purgatory for lust. He responds in Provençal to the narrator's question of who he is: «Tan m'abellis vostre cortes deman, / qu'ieu no me puesc ni voill a vos cobrire. / Ieu sui Arnaut, que plor e vau cantan; / consiros vei la passada folor, / e vei jausen lo joi qu'esper, denan. / Ara vos prec, per aquella valor / que vos guida al som de l'escalina, / sovenha vos a temps de ma dolor» In homage to these lines which Dante gave to Daniel, the European edition of T.S. Eliot's second volume of poetry was titled Ara Vos Prec.