In Julius Caesar, how does Antony change after his funeral oration?

Expert Answers

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

Brutus sees Antony as non-threatening, as nothing more than Caesar’s right-hand man who can do no harm once Caesar is gone. Cassius thinks they should kill both Antony and Caesar, but Brutus argues against it. “And for Mark Antony, think not of him;/For he can do no more than Caesar’s arm/When Caesar’s head is off”(II.i.801-803). Because of this, the readers may trust that this characterization of Antony is true. After all, he acts humble before Brutus and the conspirators, shaking their hands above Caesar’s dead body. “I doubt not of your wisdom./Let each man render me his bloody hand”(III.i.1405-1406). Then he goes on to ask for permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral, and Brutus grants this to him.

At Caesar’s funeral, Antony proves a great orator, something Brutus and the conspirators are not expecting, which leads us to believe no one quite knew the depths of Antony’s character. Antony begins his speech by calling Brutus and the conspirators honorable men, yet he goes on to tell the people of Rome all the good that Caesar did for them while he was alive and the land and money Caesar left to them in his will. By the end of his speech, the people have been moved so much that they go from praising Brutus to calling the conspirators traitors. Thus begins Antony’s war against the traitors, ending in the conspirators’ deaths.

It’s not so much that Antony changes throughout the play as it is that the reader’s perception of him changes. In the beginning he is painted as lacking compared to Caesar, but we quickly see him prove himself not only a great orator, but also the most honorable of men. While he does wage war against the conspirators, he is not brutal or selfish. Upon Brutus’s death, Antony says, “This was the noblest Roman of them all:/All the conspirators save only he/Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;/He only, in a general honest thought/And common good to all, made one of them”(V.v.2754-2758). Antony recognizes that he and Brutus are not much different. They both did what they did for what they believed was the good of Rome.

Antony was loyal to Caesar and Rome in general from the beginning. The change we see is one brought on by Caesar’s death. We see him grow from a man content in his role as the right hand of the king to a powerful ruler in his own right. But his loyalty is steadfast throughout.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial