Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a masterclass of irony and the way rhetoric can be used to say one thing but imply something fairly different without ever naming it. Mark Antony delivers a funeral speech for Julius Caesar adhering to Caesar’s assassination at the hands of Brutus and also the conspirators, yet he is just allowed to perform so as long as he does not badmouth the conspirators for their role in Caesar’s death. Antony’s references to Brutus as an honourable man subtly and ingeniously show that Brutus is anything but honourable, while likewise serving to display that Caesar was not the ambitious man Brutus has actually painted him to be.

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The best method to analyse this crucial speech from the play is to go via it, summdeveloping it area by area.


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

Immediately we view Mark Antony’s brilliant rhetorical skills, which he supplies to gain the crowd ‘on side’. As David Daniell observes in his note to that opening line, ‘Friends, Romans, countryguys, lfinish me your ears’, Mark Antony begins with the even more intimate deal with ‘Friends’, before moving from the personal to the nationwide, a move that, for Daniell, is ‘reinforced by expansion’: ‘Friends’ (one syllable), ‘Romans’ (two syllables), ‘countrymen’ (3 syllables). (See Julius Caesar (The Arden Shakespeare)

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honourable, so ‘I guess I was wrong (yet I know I’m not)’. Obviously this last little bit is implied, not spoken aloud – but that’s what Mark Antony is building in the direction of.

He hath lugged many type of captives house to RomeWhose ransoms did the general coffers fill:Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?


Let’s look at what Caesar did: he took many adversaries prisoner and carried them here to Rome, and also these captives’ ransoms, once paid, helped to make Rome affluent. Does this seem ‘ambitious’ behaviour to you?

When that the bad have cried, Caesar hath wept:Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;And Brutus is an honourable man.


When the negative of the city endured, Caesar wept through pity for them. Hardly the actions of an ambitious male, that need to be harder-hearted than this! But Brutus says Caesar was ambitious, and also Brutus is honourable, so … it need to be true … right? Keep in mind exactly how Antony proceeds to sow the seeds of doubt in the crowd’s mind.

You all did check out that on the LupercalI thrice presented him a kingly crown,Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?Yet Brutus claims he was ambitious;And, sure, he is an honourable man.

Antony reminds the Romans that at the festival of Lupercalia (held in mid-February, about the same time as our modern-day Valentine’s Day; so simply a month prior to Caesar was assassinated), he publicly presented Julius Caesar through a crown, yet Caesar refprovided it three times (remember, he was ‘just’ a general, a military leader: not an emperor). Aacquire, Antony appeals to the crowd: does this seem favor the action of an ambitious man?

I soptimal not to disprove what Brutus spoke,But here I am to speak what I perform understand.

Although he clearly is disproving what Brutus declared of Caesar, Antony maintains that this isn’t his aim: he’s just informing the fact based upon what he knows of Caesar.

You all did love him once, not without cause:What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?

Antony reminds the crowd of Romans that they all loved Caesar once as well, and also they had actually factors for doing so: Caesar was plainly a great leader. So why execute they now not mourn for him in death? (Keep in mind Antony’s skilful usage of ‘cause’ twice here: they loved Caesar via great reason, but what reason is responsible for their failure to burned a tear at his passing?)

O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,And males have lost their factor. Bear via me;My heart is in the coffin there through Caesar,And I need to pausage till it come earlier to me.

Observe the clever before pun on Brutus’ name in ‘brutish beasts’: Antony stops short of calling Brutus a beastern, but it’s clear enough that he thinks the crowd has been manipulated via violent thugs and also everyone has actually shed their capacity to think rationally about Caesar. The mob spirit has been fomented and also everyone has actually made Caesar, even in fatality, the tarobtain of their hatred.

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Mark Antony brings his ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech, a masterly item of oratory, to a romaking use of end via an appeal to individual emotion, claiming that seeing Rome so corrupted by hatred and blinded by unreason has damaged his heart. He concludes, however, with a last line that supplies a glimmer of hope, implying that if Rome would certainly just recuperate itself, he would certainly be all appropriate aacquire.