In the play Julius Caesar, analyze the speech made by Brutus and highlight Mark Antony's arguments to refute Brutus charge that Caesar was ambitious.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Act III, scene i of Julius Caesar, Antony delivers one of the great monologues in all of literature, using much verbal irony and clever rhetorical devices to undercut Brutus' empty words:

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 answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
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,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Here, Antony uses verbal irony, namely sarcasm (saying the opposite of what he means) to use Brutus' words against him.  If Brutus says Caesar was "ambitious" and if Brutus is "honorable," then Antony can, by proving the former charge (Caesar was "ambitious) is false, also prove the latter tag is false (Brutus is "honorable").

Antony proves both of these using a repetition of argument, counter-argument, sarcasm, and rhetorical questions.  He repeatedly says "Brutus is an honourable man" in a sarcastic way to prove, obviously, that he doesn't mean it.  We can conclude, therefore, that Brutus saying Caesar was "ambitious" is likewise false, but not sarcastic.  So, sarcastic "lies" expose and trump actual lies.  In the end, Antony pits Brutus's words against what he and the crowd know.  Antony thus exposes the validity of proof over words and logos (facts) over pathos (emotion).

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