How did Mark Antony counteract the allegations made against Caesar?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The answer to this question can be found in Act III, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar. After carrying out the assassination of Caesar, Brutus justifies the act by explaining to the crowd that Caesar was an ambitious man, and moreover that these personal ambitions would eventually destroy Rome and the liberties that its people held sacred. Antony, whose speech to the Roman people follows that of Brutus, counters this charge by emphasizing Caesar's nobility, as he does in the following passage:

He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
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.

In this speech, Antony manages, without directly casting aspersions on Brutus's character, to paint Caesar's assassins as criminals who have killed a noble Roman, one who loved his people. Having won over the crowd, he begins to dispense with the pretense that he believes Brutus and the other conspirators to be "honorable" men. As the crowd forms a circle around the body of Caesar, Antony has them look at the corpse, "marr'd...by traitors." Brutus's attack, Antony says, was the "unkindest cut of all," as it was carried out by a man Caesar loved and trusted. In short, Antony counters Brutus's claims by an appeal to pathos, to the emotions of the crowd. He is completely successful, and the crowd that was chanting for Brutus ends up, after Antony's speech, chanting for Brutus's blood and rioting in the streets of Rome.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team