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Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 3, Scene 1

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BANQUO enters.

BANQUO

Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and I fear Thou played’st most foully for ’t. Yet it was said It should not stand in thy posterity, But that myself should be the root and father Of many kings. If there come truth from them— As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine— Why, by the verities on thee made good, May they not be my oracles as well, And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.

BANQUO

You have it now: you’re King, the Thane of Cawdor, and the Thane of Glamis, just as the witches promised. And I fear that you used foul play to get it. But the witches also promised that your descendants would not be kings, and that my descendants would form a line of kings instead. If the witches do tell the truth—and what they told you, Macbeth, was brilliantly true—then maybe their prophecies about me are true as well. But now I must be quiet.

A trumpet sounds. MACBETH enters dressed as king, and LADY MACBETH enters dressed as queen, together with LENNOX, ROSS, LORDS, LADIES, and attendants.

MACBETH

Here’s our chief guest.

MACBETH

Here’s our most important guest, Banquo.

LADY MACBETH

If he had been forgotten,It had been as a gap in our great feast,And all-thing unbecoming.

LADY MACBETH

If we had forgotten to invite him it would have been entirely inappropriate, and our celebratory feast would be incomplete.

MACBETH

Tonight we hold a solemn supper, sir,And I’ll request your presence.

MACBETH

[To BANQUO] Tonight we’re having a ceremonial feast, and I formally request that you attend.

BANQUO

Let your highnessCommand upon me, to the which my dutiesAre with a most indissoluble tieForever knit.

BANQUO

I am always bound by duty to obey whatever your Highness commands me to do.

MACBETH

Ride you this afternoon?

MACBETH

Do you plant to go riding this afternoon?

BANQUO

Ay, my good lord.

BANQUO

Yes, my good lord.

MACBETH

We should have else desired your good advice— Which still hath been both grave and prosperous— In this day’s council, but we’ll take tomorrow. Is ’t far you ride?

MACBETH

If you had you been here, we would have wanted your advice—which is always wise and profitable—at the council meeting earlier today. But we’ll settle for tomorrow. Will you be riding far?

BANQUO

As far, my lord, as will fill up the time ‘Twixt this and supper. Go not my horse the better, I must become a borrower of the night For a dark hour or twain.

BANQUO

Far enough that the trip will take me from now until dinner,  my lord. Unless my horse goes faster than I expect, I’ll be riding in the dark for an hour or two after sunset.

MACBETH

Fail not our feast.

MACBETH

Do not miss our feast.

BANQUO

My lord, I will not.

BANQUO

I won’t, my lord.

MACBETH

We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed In England and in Ireland, not confessing Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers With strange invention. But of that tomorrow, When therewithal we shall have cause of state Craving us jointly. Hie you to horse. Adieu, Till your return at night. Goes Fleance with you?

MACBETH

We hear that the murderous princes have gone to England and Ireland. They haven’t confessed to cruelly murdering their father, and they’ve been telling strange lies to anyone who will listen. But we’ll discuss that tomorrow, as well as other matters of state that are important to us both. Go hurry to your horse. I’ll see you when you return tonight. Is Fleance going with you?

BANQUO

Ay, my good lord. Our time does call upon ’s.

BANQUO

Yes, my good lord. It’s time we got going.

MACBETH

I wish your horses swift and sure of foot, And so I do commend you to their backs.Farewell.

MACBETH

May your horses be fast and surefooted. With that wish, I send you to your horseback riding. Farewell.

BANQUO exits.

MACBETH

Let every man be master of his time Till seven at night. To make society The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself Till suppertime alone. While then, God be with you!

MACBETH

All of you can do what you want until seven o’clock tonight. To make the evening all the more enjoyable, I’m going to spend the time until dinner alone. Until then, God be with you!

Everyone exits except MACBETH and a SERVANT.

MACBETH

Sirrah, a word with you. Attend those menOur pleasure?

MACBETH

[To the SERVANT] Sir, a word with you. Are those men waiting for my instructions?

SERVANT

They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

SERVANT

They are, my lord. They’re outside the palace gate.

MACBETH

Bring them before us.

MACBETH

Bring them in to see me.

The SERVANT exits.

MACBETH

To be thus is nothing, But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature Reigns that which would be feared. ‘Tis much he dares, And to that dauntless temper of his mind He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor To act in safety. There is none but he Whose being I do fear, and under him My genius is rebuked, as it is said Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters When first they put the name of king upon me And bade them speak to him. Then, prophetlike, They hailed him father to a line of kings. Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren scepter in my grip, Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so, For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered; Put rancors in the vessel of my peace Only for them; and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man, To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings! Rather than so, come fate into the list, And champion me to th’ utterance. Who’s there?

MACBETH

If my position isn’t safe, then being king is worthless. I’m deeply afraid of Banquo—he has a natural nobility about him that makes him a threat to me. He’s a risk-taker, and yet in addition to his unbreakable courage, he also has the wisdom to act with care and forethought. He’s the only one I fear. In his presence, my guardian spirit is intimidated, just as they say Mark Antony’s spirit was intimidated by Octavius Caesar. When the witches first said I would be king, Banquo scolded them, and told them to speak with him. Then, like prophets, they said his descendants would form a line of kings. The witches put a crown on my head and a scepter in my hand, but then said that I would never pass them on. My crown and scepter will be taken from me by someone from outside my family. No son of mine will succeed me as king. If what the witches say is true, then everything I’ve done has been for the benefit of Banquo’s children—dishonoring myself, murdering gracious Duncan, destroying my peace of mind, all for them. I’ve given my eternal soul to the devil so that they could become kings. Banquo’s sons, kings! Rather than let that happen, I’ll invite fate to come into the battleground and fight it to the death. Who’s there?

The SERVANT enters along with two MURDERERS.

MACBETH

Now go to the door and stay there till we call.

MACBETH

[To the SERVANT] Now go to the door and stay there until I call you.

The SERVANT exits.

MACBETH

Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

MACBETH

Wasn’t it yesterday that we last spoke?

FIRST MURDERER

It was, so please your highness.

FIRST MURDERER

It was, your Highness.

MACBETH

Well then, now Have you considered of my speeches? Know That it was he, in the times past, which held you So under fortune, which you thought had been Our innocent self. This I made good to you In our last conference, passed in probation with you, How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the instruments, Who wrought with them, and all things else that might To half a soul and to a notion crazed Say, “Thus did Banquo.”

MACBETH

So then, have you thought about what I said? You must know that it was Banquo who made your lives so miserable for so long. You thought I did it, but I was innocent. I told you all about it when we last met and showed you proof—how you were tricked and deceived by the agents who did the dirty work, and who they were working with, and enough other details that even a half-wit would say “Banquo did it!”

FIRST MURDERER

You made it known to us.

FIRST MURDERER

You made it known to us.

MACBETH

I did so, and went further, which is now Our point of second meeting. Do you find Your patience so predominant in your nature That you can let this go? Are you so gospeled To pray for this good man and for his issue, Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave And beggared yours forever?

MACBETH

I did that and more. Which leads me to the point of this second meeting. Is your nature so forgiving that you don’t feel the need for revenge? Are you so religious that you’d pray for this “good” man and his children, when he’s forced you into an early grave and made your entire family beggars?

FIRST MURDERER

We are men, my liege.

FIRST MURDERER

We are men, my lord.

MACBETH

Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men, As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs, Shoughs, water-rugs, and demi-wolves are clept All by the name of dogs. The valued file Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle, The housekeeper, the hunter, every one According to the gift which bounteous nature Hath in him closed, whereby he does receive Particular addition, from the bill That writes them all alike. And so of men. Now, if you have a station in the file, Not i’ th’ worst rank of manhood, say ’t, And I will put that business in your bosoms, Whose execution takes your enemy off, Grapples you to the heart and love of us, Who wear our health but sickly in his life, Which in his death were perfect.

MACBETH

Yes, you’re part of the species called men. Just as hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, mutts, shaggy lapdogs, shaggy water-dogs, and half-wolves are all dogs. But you can distinguish which of these dogs are fast, slow, or clever; which are watchdogs, and which ones hunters. You can describe each dog based on the natural gifts that separate and make it different from the general qualities that define a dog. It’s the same with men. Now, if you stand in the list of men in some position that isn’t down at the very bottom rank, say so. Because then I will tell you a secret plan that will get rid of your enemy and bring you closer to me. As long as a certain man lives, I am sick. His death would cure me.

SECOND MURDERER

I am one, my liege, Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world Have so incensed that I am reckless what I do to spite the world.

SECOND MURDERER

My lord, I'm a man who has gotten so angry from the beatings that the world has given me, that I don’t care what I do.

FIRST MURDERER

And I another So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune, That I would set my life on any chance, To mend it or be rid on ’t.

FIRST MURDERER

I’m also so sick of bad luck and being at the mercy of fate that I’d risk everything for a chance to either fix my life or end it.

MACBETH

Both of youKnow Banquo was your enemy.

MACBETH

Both of you know Banquo was your enemy.

BOTH MURDERERS

True, my lord.

BOTH MURDERERS

Yes, my lord.

MACBETH

So is he mine; and in such bloody distance That every minute of his being thrusts Against my near’st of life. And though I could With barefaced power sweep him from my sight And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, For certain friends that are both his and mine, Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall Who I myself struck down. And thence it is, That I to your assistance do make love, Masking the business from the common eye For sundry weighty reasons.

MACBETH

He’s also mine, and to such a degree that every minute he’s alive threatens my own well-being. Though, as King, I could just use my raw power to destroy him, I can’t do that because we have mutual friends whom I need. I have to be able to grieve and cry over his death, even though I am the one who will have him killed. So that’s why I have come to you asking for your help. I have to hide my real plans from the public eye for a variety of important reasons.

SECOND MURDERER

We shall, my lord,Perform what you command us.

SECOND MURDERER

We’ll do what you command, my lord.

FIRST MURDERER

Though our lives—

FIRST MURDERER

Though our lives—

MACBETH

Your spirits shine through you. Within this hour at most I will advise you where to plant yourselves, Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ th’ time, The moment on ’t; for ’t must be done tonight, And something from the palace; always thought That I require a clearness. And with him— To leave no rubs nor botches in the work— Fleance, his son, that keeps him company, Whose absence is no less material to me Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate Of that dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart. I’ll come to you anon.

MACBETH

Your resolve shines in your eyes. Within the hour, I’ll tell you where to go, and advise you about exactly when to strike. Because it must be done tonight, some distance from the palace. Always keep in mind that I must be free from suspicion. For the job to be done right, you must kill both Banquo and his son, Fleance, who is with him. Fleance—whose absence is as important to me as his father’s—must also die during that dark hour. Each of you should decide for himself whether you will do this. I’ll come to you soon.

BOTH MURDERERS

We are resolved, my lord.

BOTH MURDERERS

We will do it, my lord.

MACBETH

I’ll call upon you straight. Abide within.

MACBETH

I’ll call for you soon. Wait for me in the other room.

The MURDERERS exit.

MACBETH

It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight,If it find heaven, must find it out tonight.

MACBETH

It’s settled, then. Banquo, tonight is when your soul will learn whether it’s going to heaven or to hell.

He exits.

Macbeth
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.