Give an analysis of the funeral orations in Act III of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. 

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Act III, Scene ii, in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare includes the funeral speeches by Brutus and Antony.  There have been conditions established in which Antony has to follow during his speech honoring Caesar. 

These are the provisions:

  • Brutus will speak first.
  • Antony will speak in the same place as Brutus.
  • Antony will not blame the conspirators but only say the good about Caesar. 
  • Tell the people that he is doing it with the permission of the conspirators.

Brutus begins his oration. 

Since Brutus is a stoic, his primary appeal is logos explaining why Caesar had to die; furthermore, he depends on his ethics or character to win over the audience. He does use some pathos to indicate that he loved Caesar as a friend; however, his logic exceeds his emotional appeal.

This is his contention:

Brutus loved Rome more than he loved Caesar.

His supporting points

If Caesar lived, the Roman people would have become slaves.

Choose: Caesar alive and Romans slaves or Caesar dead and Romans free.

  • Caesar’s love-Brutus weeps
  • Caesar’s bravery-Brutus honors him.
  • Caesar’s good luck-Brutus applauds him.
  • Caesar’s ambition-Brutus killed him.

One of the rhetorical devices that Brutus uses is repetition.  He says the same thing but either reverses the order or uses slightly different words.

Have I offended any person? Freeman/Roman

Caesar was killed for his offenses.  Brutus would expect the same punishment.  

If the Romans require death from Brutus, he will use the same dagger that he used to kill Caesar.


Antony will follow the provisos of the conspirators.  

Rhetorical devices used by Antony

Repetition, humility, grief, shock, sarcasm, pathos, ethos, logos

Antony calls to the crowd as though he is their equal:  Friends, Romans, Country men

Throughout his speech, Antony will use the words of Brutus to reinforce his points: ambition, ambitious, noble, honorable, honor. He initially uses them just as he promised Brutus that he would.  As the speech progresses, his tone becomes more and more sarcastic toward the assassins.

Antony states his purpose: He is there to bury Caesar.  He is not going to bring up all of the good things that Caesar did. Of course, he then proceeds to list the good things that Caesar had done for Rome.

  • Brought captives which made ransoms and money for Rome
  • Caesar cried for the poor.
  • Caesar refused the crown three times.

He asks the audience two questions:

  • Does this sound like Caesar was ambitious?
  • Why do the Romans not mourn Caesar that they loved only yesterday?

Antony appears overcome with grief and pauses.  This is a ploy to allow the mob time to think about what Antony has said so far.

He describes his purported feelings about the assassins. 

Good friends, let me not stir you up

To such a sudden flood of mutiny

They that have done this deed are honorable.

Antony brings out Caesar’s will to tease the crowd.  Then he puts it away for the present.

He describes the conspirators taking souvenirs from the body of Caesar: they took his blood and hair for memorabilia and to leave their children.

Antony uses the body of Caesar to point out the thirty five stab wounds that were made. He lists all of the conspirators and ascribes a wound to each one.

Finally, the crowd makes Antony read the will which provides money and recreational areas for the Roman Citizens. 

The Crowd is now hysterical. Now a mob---they leave to cremate Caesar and to kill the conspirators.







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