In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, in Act Three, scene one, how does Antony behave toward the assassins?
In Act Three, scene one, of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Antony asks to meet with the men who have assassinated Caesar.
Antony's servant approaches Brutus with a message from his master basically saying that Antony admired Caesar but also admires Brutus and would like to meet as long as Brutus will guarantee his safety and explain why Caesar needed to die. If Brutus can do this, Antony says that he will support him.
...thus [Mark Antony] bade me say:
Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest;
Caesar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving. (140)
Say I love Brutus and I honor him;
Say I fear'd Caesar, honor'd him, and loved him.
If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony
May safely come to him and be resolved
How Caesar hath deserved to lie in death, (145)
Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead
So well as Brutus living, but will follow
The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus... (III.i.138-148)
When Antony arrives, he wonders what else the assassins plan to do: he says that if he is to be killed, what better honor could there be than to be slain by the sword that killed Caesar. He says that if they are going to kill him, to do so quickly. Brutus stops him and hopes that his explanation will ease Antony's mind.
Brutus says he also loved Caesar but he believed that Caesar was going to destroy Rome, and Brutus honors Rome above all things, even his own life. He believes in what he has done. He says that once they calm the hysterical citizens of Rome, he will explain all to Antony.
In response, Antony shakes each man's [bloody] hand. Then he honors Caesar with words of what a great man he was. He tells the men that he is a friend to them and will love them all, with the understanding that they explain their actions to him:
Friends am I with you all and love you all,
Upon this hope that you shall give me reasons
Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous. (III.i.236-238)
Then Antony asks to take Caesar's body to prepare it for burial, and the conspirators agree. However, after they leave, Antony's intent becomes clear: he will seek vengeance on these men for their murder of Caesar, who was the noblest man he ever knew. He says Heaven help the man that shed Caesar's blood.
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! (275)
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!...
...To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue,
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men... (III.i.274-282)
So while he engages the trust of the assassins, Antony secretly plans their punishment.