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In Act I scene ii of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, King Duncan, the king of Scotland, gets word from his messengers about what is happening in a nearby battle.
Ross arrives from Fife, where the battle is taking place, and relates to Duncan what he saw at the battle front. He says he just came from Fife (which is in Scotland) where the king of Norway was boldly flying the Norwegian flag. Even worse, he has been mocking and frightening the citizens there.
The king of Norway is leading a great army of men
Assisted by that most disloyal traitor,The thane of Cawdor....
began a dismal conflict.
and to conclude,The victory fell on us.
Of course Duncan is thrilled that his kinsman and mighty warrior, Macbeth, was able to defeat the marauders; however, Ross has more news.
After his defeat, the king of Norway wanted to broker a treaty; the Scotsmen refused even to allow the enemy to bury their dead until they retreated to Saint Colme’s Inch and paid a fee of ten thousand dollars.
Duncan is furious that one of his own Scottish thanes, someone who is supposed to be entirely loyal to the king, has proved to be a traitor; Duncan orders the Thane of Cawdor to be executed and his title given to Macbeth.
In scene iii, Ross gives Macbeth the news and explains to an astounded Macbeth that Cawdor was, in some way, a traitor and has been stripped of his title. He explains:
Whether he [Cawdor] was combinedWith those of Norway, or did line the rebelWith hidden help and vantage, or that with bothHe labored in his country’s wrack, I know not;But treasons capital, confessed and proved,Have overthrown him.
I have spoke
With one that saw him die; who did report
That very frankly he confessed his treasons,
Implor'd your Highness' pardon, and set forth
A deep repentance. Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it.
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