A line-by-line translation

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

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LADY MACBETH

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

LADY MACBETH

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MACBETH

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

MACBETH

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BANQUO

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

BANQUO

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MACBETH

Ride you this afternoon?

MACBETH

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BANQUO

Ay, my good lord.

BANQUO

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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

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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

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MACBETH

Fail not our feast.

MACBETH

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BANQUO

My lord, I will not.

BANQUO

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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

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BANQUO

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

BANQUO

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MACBETH

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

MACBETH

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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

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Everyone exits except MACBETH and a SERVANT.

MACBETH

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

MACBETH

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SERVANT

They are, my lord, without the palace gate.

SERVANT

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MACBETH

Bring them before us.

MACBETH

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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

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The SERVANT enters along with two MURDERERS.

MACBETH

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

MACBETH

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The SERVANT exits.

MACBETH

Was it not yesterday we spoke together?

MACBETH

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FIRST MURDERER

It was, so please your highness.

FIRST MURDERER

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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

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FIRST MURDERER

You made it known to us.

FIRST MURDERER

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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

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FIRST MURDERER

We are men, my liege.

FIRST MURDERER

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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

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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

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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

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MACBETH

Both of youKnow Banquo was your enemy.

MACBETH

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BOTH MURDERERS

True, my lord.

BOTH MURDERERS

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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

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SECOND MURDERER

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

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Though our lives—

FIRST MURDERER

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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

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BOTH MURDERERS

We are resolved, my lord.

BOTH MURDERERS

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MACBETH

I’ll call upon you straight. Abide within.

MACBETH

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The MURDERERS exit.

MACBETH

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

MACBETH

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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.