ACT III – Scene.ii
This is set in the Forum, which is full of an uneasy,
vocal crowd who are demanding satisfaction over the murder of Caesar.
Brutus pleads with the citizens to be patient and to contain their emotions,
and allow him to finish his speech. He reminds them that he is an honorable Roman and he will give reasons why it was necessary to murder Caesar.
The citizens are convinced at the end of Brutus’ speech and they cheer him.
Then Antony enters carrying Caesar’s body, and he delivers a reasoned
This is a clever speech, which slowly turns the tide away from the conspirators, back to him. Using logic, he is able to sway the crowd and in the end they are baying for the blood of the conspirators. They are spurred on by the fact that Antony hints that Caesar’s Will leaves his property to the people.
The conspirators flee Rome and the scene ends with Antony being informed
that Octavius and Lepidus have arrived at Caesar’s house.
This whole scene revolves round the two speeches, one
by Brutus and the other by Mark Antony. Both are made to the citizens of Rome who are fickle and can be easily swayed.
Whereas Brutus’ speech written in prose is crude, does appeal to the rabble, Mark Antony’s speech is eloquent and inspirational, and quickly wins them back. Brutus has to struggle with his audience to obtain their attention, whereas Mark Antony immediately gets their attention by entering carrying Caesar’s body.
The main thrust of the first speech, given by Brutus, is to justify Caesar’s
Brutus says that Caesar was full of ambition, and that the plebeians would become slaves under Caesar’s rule. Eventually, Brutus convinces the crowd that they had good reason to murder Caesar, and the conspirators feel confident and secure.
When Antony delivers his dramatic and theatrical speech, he immediately has
the attention of all those present. Shakespeare shows his genius in creating a great speech, the style of which has been copied down the ages, and more recently by Hitler, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy,
and Martin Luther King.
The first rule in delivering a speech is to get the audience’s
attention. Antony did this by using Caesar’s body. Hitler would wait until there was complete silence before starting his speeches.
You will note in Antony’s speech that certain words are repeated e.g.
‘honorable’ and ‘ambition’. This style was used by Martin Luther King in his famous, ‘I have a dream’ speech. This is the second rule.
The third rule is to create an empathy with your audience.
This Mark Antony does by speaking as if he is one of them, and is aware of the problems they have. John F. Kennedy had this common touch.
The fourth and final rule is to tell the people what they want to
hear. Mark Antony uses the masterstroke of producing Caesar’s Will. He tells the crowd that they will benefit from Caesar’s property.
Winston Churchill certainly told the people of Britain what they wanted to hear during their darkest hour, which inspired them at boosted their morale.
It is fitting, therefore, to quote part of this speech, which is famous in
the literary world, but the reader should study the whole passage in detail.
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones:
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest –
For Brutus is an honorable man,
So are they all, all honorable men -”
Not only does Antony obtain the support of the crowd, but he also incites
them into a lawless mob, and the conspirators have to flee for their lives. As the speech develops, Antony uses props in order to emphasize certain passages, and in particular he uses Caesar’s stab wounds as a
final image, which in the end do the speaking for him.
“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle. I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on,
Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through;
See what a rent the envious Casca made;
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed.”.