Compare the language used in Antony's and Brutus' speeches at Caesar's funeral. Identify techniques, devices used and their effectiveness in Julius Caesar.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After Caesar is assassinated, the idealistic Brutus feels that he must explain why Caesar has been killed and, thus, removed as ruler of Rome. His is a speech well-prepared, utilizing logic and various rhetorical devices. But, Brutus speaks too much of himself and distances himself from his audience:

                       By your pardon:
I will myself into the pulpit first 
And show the reason of our Caesar's death.

Most characteristic of Brutus's speech is chiasmus, a rhetorical device in which phrases are repeated in reverse order with the same or modified form. For example, the famous explanation of Brutus on why he slay Caesar contains this rhetorical element, as Brutus appeals to the logic of his audience.

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more,

Also employed by Brutus is antithesis, a rhetorical device in which a contrast of ideas is expressed by parallelism of words that are the opposite of each other; for example, Brutus says,

Had you rather that Caesar were living, and die all slaves,
than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men. 

Finally, Brutus uses the rhetorical question:  "Who is here so base, that would not be a Roman?"

While Brutus appeals to the logic of the Romans, Marc Antony also uses logic, but he emphasizes pathos, or emotional appeal, much more. A more casual speech finds Antony inviting the Romans to speak themselves and respond. He also uses antithesis: "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." Further, Marc Antony employs repetition as he raises doubt in the minds of the Romans,

He [Caesar] was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.

These last two lines are repeated in order to keep this idea in the minds of the Romans. In addition, Antony makes very effective use of an insinuating irony:

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 honorable man.

Then, in a very emotional appeal, Antony uses apostrophe:

Judge, O you gods; how dearly Caesar loved him!

And, he calls upon the Romans to look at Caesar's body. Afterwards, he riles the crowd using anodiplosis, the use of repetition of the last word of a preceding clause:

                                    But were I Brutus
and Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits....

This language of Marc Antony certainly riles the crowd as it ignites civil unrest and a war begins. For Brutus, his logic at first appeals to many in the crowd, but he is too formal and too idealistic, whereas Antony addresses Caesar's love for the people as he left money in his will for the plebeians and incites them against the ideologues.

Sources:
samteacher's profile pic

samteacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

After Caesar is assassinated, the idealistic Brutus feels that he must explain why Caesar has been killed and, thus, removed as ruler of Rome. His is a speech well-prepared, utilizing logic and various rhetorical devices. But, Brutus speaks too much of himself and distances himself from his audience:

                       By your pardon:
I will myself into the pulpit first 
And show the reason of our Caesar's death.

Most characteristic of Brutus's speech is chiasmus, a rhetorical device in which phrases are repeated in reverse order with the same or modified form. For example, the famous explanation of Brutus on why he slay Caesar contains this rhetorical element, as Brutus appeals to the logic of his audience.

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