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Macbeth Glossary

We rest your hermits (1.6.24)

Yes, a king travelling with an entourage of hermits sounds like a scene from Monty Python, but Duncan's hermits were actually almsmen, hired to pray for the welfare of Duncan and his men. According to Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898, the number of these almsmen was "equal to that of the king’s years, so that an extra one was added every returning birthday."

In the context of the play, when Lady Macbeth says 'We rest your hermits' she means that, because of their tremendous feelings of gratitude, she and her husband will pray so hard for Duncan that his almsmen will be able to stop praying (rest).

Back to Macbeth (1.6)

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Macbeth Glossary. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth/macbethglossary/macbeth1_1/macbethglos_hermits.html >.
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