In "Julius Caesar", how does Antony prove to be loyal to Caesar?i want to know also antony's contributon to the play

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mark Antony is one of Shakespeare's more complex characters. While willing to use and ruthlessly discard people as "tools," and to wholeheartedly engage in civil war (if you are Brutus, Antony is not a person you want as an enemy), he at the same time shows genuine loyalty to Caesar. Caesar's murder ("this foul deed") deeply angers and upsets him, and he vows revenge, saying:

let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

Antony is most famous for the speech he gives to the Roman people after Caesar's death. Brutus, over Cassius's objections, foolishly allows Antony to speak on the condition that he will not say anything negative about the murderers.

Antony is an expert speaker and uses his skill at rhetoric to condemn the assassins while seeming to praise them, giving one of the most famous speeches in Shakespeare's plays. Brutus has justified the assassination of Caesar by saying that Caesar was getting too ambitious. Antony ironically undercuts this claim, reminding the crowd of all Caesar had done to help them, and questioning how "ambitious" it is to be good to the common person. He then says, with heavy verbal irony, that Brutus and his cohort are all "honorable men." He repeats the words "honorable men," meaning exactly the opposite, so many times that the crowd can't miss his intent and turns against Brutus.

Antony's purpose is to expose the hypocrisy of Brutus and the other conspirators who say they betrayed and killed Caesar for the greater good of Rome, when they actually killed him for their own good. In addition, when such a strong, ruthless, and fearless character as Antony jumps into civil war, Shakespeare shows the kinds of problems killing a ruler can engender: Antony himself is one of the "dogs" of war you don't want to unleash.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a foil to Brutus, Marc Antony shows his loyalty differently. While Brutus respects Caesar:"yet I love him well (I,ii,82), he slays Caesar out of loyalty to the state and its welfare:"Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more (III,ii,22), Antony weeps, "Thou art the ruins of the noblest man/That ever lived in the tide of times" (III,i,256-257). Because he is alone critics argue that this speech is evidence of Antony's genuine love and loyalty to Caesar. He wants Caesar alive, not dead for political reasons.

In order to avenge the death of Caesar, Antony employs ironyin his oration--"So are they all, all honorable men"(III,ii,84)--as well as emotional pauses to arouse the people to turn against the conspirators.

Later in the play, Antony again manipulates people. In his love for Caesar and loyal promise to avenge him

"A curse shall light upon the limbs of men:/Domestic fury and fierce civil strife/Shall cumber all the parts of Italy(III.i.262-264)

Antony is willing to sacrifice the life of his own nephew. He agrees to trade his nephew's life for that of Lepidus with whom he has formed a political alliance along with Octavius. However, when Lepidus leaves, Antony tells Octavius,"This is a slight unmeritable man,/Meet to be sent on errands" (IV,i,12-13).

Still acknowleging loyalty, Antony recognizes it in the dead Brutus:"This was the noblest Roman of all.(V,v,68)

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antony is depicted as a close, loyal supporter of Julius Caesar, who incites the masses during Caesar's funeral and joins Octavius and Lepidus to fight against Brutus and Cassius. Immediately after Caesar's assassination, Antony feigns loyalty to the conspirators in order to avoid their wrath. Despite Antony's assumed complicity, he plans on avenging Caesar's death by inciting a riot during his funeral oration. After Antony assures the conspirators that he is harmless and supports their efforts, he reveals his true feelings towards the senators to the audience by addressing the corpse of Caesar:

"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, That I am meek and gentle with these butchers! Thou art the ruins of the noblest man That ever liv├Ęd in the tide of times. Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!" (Shakespeare, 3.1.269-273).

Brutus naively believes that Antony is harmless and allows him to speak in front of the masses during Caesar's funeral. When Antony is permitted to speak, he demonstrates his loyalty to Caesar by portraying him as an innocent Roman, who was not an ambitious, dangerous threat to Rome. Antony stirs the crowds' emotions by showing them Caesar's numerous wounds before reading them his will. Antony serves as a catalyst for riots and disorder throughout Rome. Antony goes on to join Octavius and Lepidus and fights against Brutus and Cassius later in the play.

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Julius Caesar

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