The Speech of Marcus Antonius in Julius Caesar Essay

The Speech of Marcus Antonius in Julius Caesar Essay

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The speech made by Marcus Antonius, called Antony, in Act Three, Scene Two of Julius Caesar shows that despite being considered a sportsman above all else, he is highly skilled with the art of oratory as well. In the play by William Shakespeare, this speech is made at the funeral of Caesar after he is killed by Brutus and the other conspirators. Brutus claimed earlier, in his own funeral speech, that the killing of Caesar was justified. He felt that Caesar was a threat, and too ambitious to be allowed as ruler. Much of this sentiment, however, was developed by the treacherous Cassius. Antony, on the other hand, felt that the conspirators were traitors to Rome and should be dealt with. This speech used a variety of methods to gradually bring the crowd to his side, yet maintain his side of the deal with Brutus. This deal was that he, “shall not in your funeral speech blame us...” (3.1.245) for the death of Caesar. Antony holds his end of the deal for the majority of the speech, yet by doing so convinces the crowd of Brutus' and the others' disloyalty. In many ways, this speech can be seen as the ultimate rhetoric, and it includes all three of Aristotle's methods of persuasion. This are the appeal to credibility, called ethos, the appeal to emotions, called pathos, and the appeal to logic, called logos. All three of these devices are used to great effect during the speech of Marcus Antonius.
Antony begins with the now famous words, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”(3.2.62) In referring to the commoners as equals, they feel a sense of empathy even at the first line. This can be seen as a sort of ethos. He goes on to say that Brutus has said that Caesar was ambitious, and that this, if true, is a serious...

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Antony, though he kept to his bargain, brought the audience to his side in a variety of ways. He used all three methods of persuasion to his advantage. He claimed the killers of Caesar to be honorable and noble, and in the very act of doing so turned Brutus' followers against him. This shows the true ability of Marcus Antonius, and that he is a far greater threat than the conspirators recognized. This power of words is well known, and Aristotle's three methods of persuasion live on in modern speechwriters. Ethos, logos, and pathos are just as effective in our time as in that of Shakespeare, the Roman Empire, and wherever there are people to speak and people to listen. Thus even today, this speech of Shakespeare through Antony shows the sheer impact that mere words can have.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. New York: Simon, 1975.

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