Marc Antony’s Funeral Oration

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In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony pleads with his “Friends, Romans (and) countrymen” to lend him their ears in an effort to exonerate Caesar from false charges laid against him. The three main conspirators in Caesar’s murder, Brutus, Casca and Cassius portrayed Caesar as an ambitious tyrant to the Roman people. After Caesar was unjustly killed by his friends and comrades, the crowd was persuaded to believe that his death was necessary for the good of the republic. However, Antony’s oration cleverly manipulates the crowd through the use of pathetic appeals, especially enargeia, into rebelling against the assassins and mourning the death of Caesar. Caesar’s untimely and unnecessary death created a unique rhetorical moment that Marc Antony seized. Bitzer states in his article “The Rhetorical Situation” that “a particular discourse comes into existence because of some specific condition or situation which invites utterance” (Bitzer 41). According to the assassins, Caesar’s murder was necessary for the good of all the Roman citizens, who unquestioningly believed Brutus’s accusations that Caesar was ambitious and unfit to govern Rome. Marc Antony used his speech to win back the citizens and unite them in grief and outrage at Caesar’s murder. One of Marc Antony’s objectives as he ascended to the pulpit was to refute the claims of Caesar’s guilt of ambition: “I thrice presented him a kingly crown, / Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? / Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; / And, sure, he is an honourable man. / I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke” (3.2.98-102). He reminded the public that Caesar had been offered the opportunity to be crowned King of Rome three times, and each time Caesar had refused it... ... middle of paper ... ...r the name of the slain leader and managed to sway public opinion from one extreme to another. His words cause the angry mob to scour the streets of Rome for anyone who took part in his murder. His pathetic appeals to his friends, Romans and countrymen incited them to become an enraged mob to avenge Caesar’s death. His words display the assassin’s malicious actions for what they were and honor the memory of Caesar. Works Cited Bitzer, Lloyd F. "The Rhetorical Situation." Philosophy and Rhetoric (1968): 39-48. Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. "Chapter 6: Ethical Proof : Arguments From Character." Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. New York: Pearson Longmann, 2004. 163-203. Crowley, Sharon, and Debra Hawhee. "Chapter 7: Pathetic Proof : Passionate Appeals." Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. New York: Pearson Longmann, 2004. 205-219.
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