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In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, is Marc Antony a suitable successor for Julius Caesar?

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vinish | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted August 24, 2012 at 4:59 PM via web

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In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, is Marc Antony a suitable successor for Julius Caesar?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM (Answer #1)

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Marc Antony is clearly not a comparable leader to Julius Caesar, a Roman leader of amazing physical and mental energy who possessed unmatched military power.  Caesar's almost superhuman mix of energy, ability, and ambition have been superior to nearly every Roman leader after him. Here are reasons why Antony does not measure up to Caesar as a leader:

  • Antony is duplicitous.  In Act III, Scene 1, he sends his servant to ask Brutus, whom he professes love and honor, if he can speak to the Romans.  He feigns great love and loyalty to Caesar by asking Brutus to kill him, as well. And, he falsely promises not to malign the conspirators if he is allowed to address the crowd. However, in his famous funeral oration. Antony's rhetoric completely turns the crowd against Brutus and the other conspirators by his repetition of the sentence,

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

And Brutus is an honorable man. (3.2.94-95)

  • His motives for unseating Brutus as a leader are vindictive, and although he professes great love for Rome, he is extremely selfish as he is willing for a civil war to begin, a war which by definition is always devastasting to a country. "Now let it work:  Mischief, thou art afoot" (3.3.262). 
  • He is treacherous and arrogant in his relationships with those for whom he professes affection. In Act IV the triumvirate acts much as the conspirators of the second act as they decide who will live and who will die. Marc Antony sells off his own nephew, Publius, because he is "a slight unmeritable man." He and Octavius argue as a result of Antony domineering posture.



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