It wasn’t till I got to University that I came across Malcolm’s ‘king becoming graces’ in Macbeth. I thought them startling – an almost impudent challenge to James I about what the country expected from their new monarch, in a play which, I’m increasingly convinced, is all about what it means to be a ‘man’:
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, (IV, iii) [a]
But what of those in the level below? What were the expectations placed on nobles and courtiers?