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Who is Hecate in Macbeth?

Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft, and one can view her as the ruler of the Three Witches. In Act 3, Scene 5, Hecate appears before the Witches and demands to know why she has been excluded from their meetings with Macbeth.

She tells them Macbeth will be back to know his destiny and she proclaims that he will see apparitions that will, "by the strength of their illusion" lead him to conclude that he is safe. She plays an important role in the play because of the lines she utters at the end of the scene: "And you all know, security/Is mortals' chiefest enemy." She reveals in these lines that Macbeth's belief that he is untouchable will ultimately result in his downfall.

For a detailed examination of Hecate and the theory that she is not Shakespeare's creation, please see the Macbeth Glossary (1.1).

For pronunciation and mythology information, please see the Macbeth Glossary (4.1).

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Hecate. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. < >.


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