Mark Antony’s speech begins by appealing to the crowd first personally, then patriotically (“Friends, Romans, countrymen” as opposed to Brutus, who put country first with “Romans, countrymen and lovers”). Antony repeats Brutus’s claim that Caesar was ambitious and says he comes before them with Brutus’s permission, careful at this stage to speak of his enemy with the greatest respect. He says that “Brutus is an honorable man,” a refrain he keeps repeating, each time with less conviction, having produced evidence to the contrary.
Antony gives instances of Caesar’s generosity and fellow feeling with the poor. He points out that Caesar was offered a crown and refused it three times. He then pauses, ostensibly from an excess of emotion, saying that his “heart is in the coffin there with Caesar.” The rhetorical purpose, however, is to give the fickle crowd time to process his points and come round to his view, which they show every sign of doing.
Antony begins to speak again, referring with great pathos to Caesar’s sudden fall from the height of power. He says that he will not try to anger them against Brutus and his honorable friends, but he then produces Caesar’s will and says that if they knew what was in it, they would “kiss dead Caesar’s wounds” in their gratitude. Antony makes skillful use of apophasis here, the rhetorical technique of mentioning something by pretending not to mention it (“I say nothing about my opponent’s frequent extra-marital affairs, and would never bring up his string of illegitimate children...”):
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;
For, if you should, O, what would come of it!
Antony shows Caesar’s mantle to the crowd, using it as a stage prop, like the will, a graphic illustration of the way Caesar was stabbed by the conspirators. By this time he particularly emphasizes the betrayal of Brutus, “Caesar’s angel.” By the time he has claimed, after this astonishing display of rhetorical brilliance, that he is “no orator, as Brutus is” but “a plain blunt man,” he has stirred up the people so thoroughly that they are ready to burn down Brutus’s house.