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In Act 3, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, what information concerning Caesar's will does...

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alysamendoza | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 23, 2013 at 12:05 AM via iOS

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In Act 3, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, what information concerning Caesar's will does Antony disclose to the crowd? How does the crowd react ?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:07 PM (Answer #1)

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Unlike Brutus, Marc Antony has a very realistic understanding of human motivations. He waits until he has worked the mob into a near frenzy before he produces Caesar's will and then pretends he is reluctant to read it because

You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, hearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad.

Finally he reads them the pertinent provisions of Caesar's will.

Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives--
To every several man--seventy-five drachmas.
Moreover he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbors, and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber. He hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever - common pleasures
To walk abroad and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar. When comes such another.

At this point the citizens start a riot which will force Brutus, Cassius, and all the other conspirators to flee from Rome.

Never, never! Come, away, away!
We'll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors' houses.

Antony has turned the crowd completely around. Brutus has made a terrible mistake in allowing Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral. Cassius warned him against doing so. in Act 3, Scene 1, he says:

You know not what you do: do not consent
That Antony speak in his funeral:
Know you how much the people may be moved
By that which he will utter?

But Brutus was not a good judge of people. He was an idealist and expected others to be like him. This is a common mistake, as Shakespeare demonstrates. We should not judge others by ourselves and expect them to behave as we would like them to behave. Cassius judges others, including Antony, by himself, and he sees people as selfish, greedy, and mendacious. Antony is not too much different from Cassius. He knows how to manipulate the mob by appealing to their emotions, and particularly to their selfish interests. He also knows how to manipulate Brutus by appealing to his egotism and naivete.

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has chosen to show that all the principal characters have good sides and bad sides, strengths and weaknesses. Marc Antony comes into prominence fairly late in the play and makes a powerful impression on the audience with his courage under pressure, his cleverness, and his eloquence; but Shakespeare shows that Antony is all too human. In Act 4, Scene 1, when he is conferring with Octavius and Lepidus about how to govern Rome and which people they will order killed for sympathizing with the conspirators, he says:

But, Lepidus, go you to Caesar's house,
Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine
How to cut off some charge in legacies.

After promising the mob that they will each receive seventy-five drachmas and public ownership of all Caesar's

. . . walks,
His private arbors, and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber . . .

now Antony unilaterally has decided to reinterpret Caesar's will in order to deprive the people of some of the legacies and, presumably, divide them with Octavius and Lepidus. He takes it for granted that they will go along with him. At the moment, he is the dominant member of the group because Octavius is so young and inexperienced and Lepidus so unintelligent that he is being honored, at least temporarily, by being included in the triumvirate.

 

 

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