Give a summary of Mark Antony's speech in Julius Caesar, mentioning some persuasive techniques found in it.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antony's funeral oration shows the power of persuasive speaking as he turns a hostile audience into true believers for his own purposes. Antony employs several persuasive techniques in his speech, including emotional appeal. After first claiming that his intention is not to praise Caesar, he says, "He was my friend, faithful and just to me." Antony's love for Caesar is an emotion with which the audience can identify. From that point forward, Antony's speech points out many of Caesar's acts that had benefited them as Roman citizens. He reminds them of their former love for Caesar. He tempts them by mentioning Caesar's will, hinting that Caesar had been generous to them.

Antony then employs another persuasive technique, anecdote. As Antony stands beside Caesar's body, he recalls the first time he saw Caesar put on the mantle that now covers him, ripped and shredded by the assassins' daggers. In this anecdote, Antony mentions it was the day that Caesar had defeated one of Rome's fiercest enemies. Using Caesar's body as a dramatic prop, Antony points out the tears in Caesar's cloak, relives the assassination from Caesar's point of view, and finally pulls away the cloak to reveal Caesar's mutilated corpse. Playing upon the crowd's new pity for Caesar, Antony then directs them to mutiny.

Throughout this speech, Antony very effectively uses rhetorical questions, repetition, and verbal irony to sway his audience. His insistence that "Brutus is an honorable man" takes on a tone of powerful sarcasm when juxtaposed against Caesar's good deeds and Brutus' betrayal of him. Antony returns again and again to this increasingly sarcastic observation. Antony's masterful use of the rhetorical question can be seen in this passage from his speech:

You all did see that on the Lupercal

I thrice presented [Caesar] a kingly crown,

Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?

The answer to Antony's question within this context clearly is understood, driving home his contention that Caesar was slain for no good reason. As a speaker, Antony demonstrates he is a master of persuasive techniques, including emotional appeal, anecdotes, repetition, verbal irony, and rhetorical questions. He also employs figurative language to greatest effect: Brutus, he points out with irony, was "Caesar's angel."

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout Mark Antony's famous funeral oration, his use of pathos allows him to connect with the audience, which influences them to riot against the conspirators who murdered Julius Caesar. Pathos is an effective rhetorical device used in persuasive arguments where the speaker uses a passionate appeal to stir up the audience's emotions. Antony begins by addressing the audience as friends, which creates an intimate connection between him and the Roman citizens. Antony goes on praise Brutus by repeating numerous times that "he is an honorable man." Antony's use of verbal irony is significant because he realizes that the audience initially supports Brutus. However, Antony continues to give examples of Caesar's charity following each positive statement about Brutus. By juxtaposing Brutus's admission that Caesar was ambitious with Caesar's benevolent actions, the audience begins to side with Antony. Antony also uses rhetorical questions, which makes the audience think about Caesar's motives and question Brutus's honesty. Antony's use of pathos is again evident when he pauses his speech to weep, which creates sympathy for himself and Caesar's supporters. Brutus then employs another rhetorical device known as apophasis when he mentions that he would be disposed to incite a riot but refuses to do so because he would be doing Brutus harm. He continues to use verbal irony by mentioning that he does not want to read Caesar's will because it will make the crowd angry when they learn about Caesar's benevolence. Antony then stands over Caesar's dead body and shows the crowd the various stab wounds before lifting Caesar's cloak to reveal his bloody corpse. This dramatic moment moves the audience to tears and stirs up their anger. However, Antony pauses the crowd and reads Caesar's will, which is to give each Roman citizen seventy-five drachmas along with donating his private arbors and orchards. Antony's use of pathos sways the audience to his favor as they riot against Brutus and the other conspirators.

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Julius Caesar

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