ACT 4: the Threes Witches on the Heath: “Here is DIS” (the City in Hell leading to Circle 9)

   Opening Lines:

Macbeth, 1623, 4.1., facs., JPEGFig. 1

Macbeth, 4.1., the Three Witches on the heath, modern fontFig. 2

   The opening lines of Act 4 appear totally innocuous at first glance. However, the carefully designed plaintext has the following features I believe are not random, but are the result of artful craftmanship:

   Keep in mind we are on the heath (Hell) for the second meeting of the three witches. Numbers play a major role in this, the construction of one of the finest plaintexts in any play in the Shakespeare canon:

   The repetition of three “3”s, “6”s, “9”s, and “17”s (including the introductory stage directions). The “3”s: (1) “Enter the 3 Witches”; “thrice”; “thrice”; (2) This is followed by 3 lines of dialogue spoken by 3 characters (the three Witches); (3) the Verse number of Revelation 17, Verse 3; The “6”s: (4) each Witch speaks a single sentence apiece, with a word sum of 6. Thus, we have 3 sixes: “666”, a triplet number mentioned only once in the Bible, as the number of the Beast (Lucifer). The Bible Edward de Vere is reputed to have used was the Geneva Bible. The passages he would have read would have been (5): (The “17”s):

Revelation 13, Verse 17:

“And that no man might buy or sell, saue hee that had the marke, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

Name” = 17th word in Verse 17

   (6) The “9”s: “name” to “name” = 9 words). The relevance of “9” in the context of the opening lines is that the entire geography of the three Witches dialogue is actually that of being on the heath (Hell) (the City of Dis in Circle 9 of Dante’s Inferno (Hell).   

Verse 18: (1+8=9

“Here is wisdome. Let him that hath wit, count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man, and his number is sixe hundreth threescore and sixe.”

   Thus, we have:  (“666” = 18.  1+8=9) (number (6 letters) used 3 times, total=18(1+8=9); ie.,Circle of Hell, and specifically the number given in the Bible as the number of “the beast”.

   Revelation 17, Verse 3: a description of “the beast”, ie., Lucifer:

“So he caried me away into the wildernesse in the Spirit, and I sawe a woman sit vpon a skarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemie, which had seuen [7] heads, and tenne [ten/10] hornes.”  (10 + 7 = 17)

   Note also that from “I” to “seven” in Verse 3 is 17 words, and can thus be read:  I, 17”, ie., “I, Edward Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxforde“–his “name“.  “Edward Vere (10 letters), and Oxforde (7 letters) = 17 letters. 

   The question becomes, then:  Is the above structure of the opening lines of Act 4, Scene 1, astonishing

Coincidence or deliberate design?


Giovanni Stradano (1523 – 1605), Flemish artist Dante’s Inferno (Hell): The City of Dis and Lower Hell (Circles 6 – 9). At the bottom of Stradano’s illustration is the frozen lake (“ness”, Scottish for “lake”), at the center of which is Lucifer, the emperor of Hell:

Stradano, Dis to Circle 9Fig. 3:  Color enhanced from original.

Crater Honeycomb Jpeg                          Fig. 4:  Ferris©2009:  “The Frozen Lake of Lower Hell”

Macbeth, 4.1., The Three Witches, DIS HERE.Fig. 5

   In Dante’s description of Hell, the city of Dis contains the sixth through the ninth circles. The description of Dis could be that of Macbeth’s castle in that its architectural features includes gates (the Porter’s Scene in Act 2, Scene 3?), towers, walls, bridges and moats. The inhabitants include: the heretics, murderers, suicides, blasphemers, the fraudulent, seducers, hypocrites and liars. Progress through rings 6 through 8 lead to the Ninth Circle, the most terrifying of the rings of Hell. At the center of the frozen river, Cocytus, in a frozen lake (a “ness”, Scottish for “lake”), is Lucifer, emperor of Hell, a giant monster with three faces. Dante is led by his guide, Virgil, up to exit Lower Hell to begin their journey to Purgatory. At the top of Purgatory is the River Lethe, the river of forgetfulness (amnesia) into which Dante is dipped, where he can begin to purge his soul of sins committed in life.



VI. I. MMXV    

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