Witches prophecy to Banquo

FIRST WITCH: Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
SECOND WITCH: Not so happy, yet much happier.
THIRD WITCH: Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.

– William Shakespeare

Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3. When Banquo asks the Witches to tell him his future, they make cryptic prophecies. The final one predicts that his descendants will be kings, but he will not. In saying how he will be lesser and greater than Macbeth, this may be suggesting that he won’t rise to the rank of Macbeth, but will enjoy greater honor and reputation. The Witches’ statement about Banquo being not as happy but happier than Macbeth is equally ambiguous. But it too can be explained by Banquo suffering a violent death yet not going through the mental torment of Macbeth before dying. There is a great deal of subtle foreshadowing here.