What was the content of Caesar's will? Why might Antony have made a point of reading it to the people?
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Antony shows the will to the mob and then pretends he does not dare to read it to them because it might inflame them against Brutus, Cassius, and the other assassins--which is exactly what he wants the will to do. He says:
Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it.
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
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 made.
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs,
For if you should, O what would come of it?
The will is Antony's strongest argument because it appeals to the avarice of the mob. That is why he saves it to last. This is always a good strategy in any persuasive speech or essay: to save your strongest point until the last, because that is what people usually remember. Antony is a realist; he understands people. Brutus is an idealist and does not understand what most people are really like. Cassius understands people the way Antony does, which is why he distrusts Antony. A good subtitle for Antony's speech would be the modern expression: "Money talks."
The will leaves some cash to every Roman citizen and some of Caesar's private land to become public gardens. The gardens would be especially welcome in Rome because it was a badly ventilated, overcrowded and congested city. There may have been other provisions in the will that Antony does not mention. He may have wanted to leave the impression that there were other legacies to the Roman people which they would learn about later.
The conspirators have betrayed Caesar so Antony decides to take revenge and he speaks for the conspirators so as to ensure them that he really is with them and will not betray them as they betrayed Caesar.
Mark Antony reads the will in order to raise their greed because in the will, Caesar left them some nice gardens and 75 drachmas each, they decide to cremate Caesar in the holy place and burn down the traitors' houses with the same fire ... He provoked their sense of guilt and betrayal....
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