How does the Roman mob react to Antony's speech in Julius Caesar?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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At first the mob is hostile to Antony. Then they gradually become interested in what he is saying about Caesar, especially when he reminds them of how they used to revere Caesar and of the good things he did for them, such as bringing many captives home to Rome, whose ransoms filled the public treasury. They are also moved by Antony's obvious grief. But nothing has such a strong effect on the mob as Antony's production of Caesar's will and his statement that Caesar has bequeathed a great deal of money and property to the citizens. Antony pretends to be reluctant to read the will with the intention of playing on their emotions. When he finally reads the terms of the will he has the mob entirely in his control and ready to riot. The real Marc Antony turned the mob against Caesar's assassins with a speech, but Shakespeare had to recreate the speech in English and in iambic pentameter without knowing what the real Antony actually said. Antony's funeral speech in the play is one of Shakespeare most memorable achievements.

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