Julius Caesar Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In lines 48-163 of act III scene 1, examine Antony's monologue carefully and in an essay relate his message in this speech.  In Julius Caesar, describe antony's tone and discuss what he hopes to accomplish in his speech; what are antony's motives, why doesn't shakespeare have antony deliver his speach as a soliloquy, with no other character on stage? plzzzz help!

Expert Answers info

Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write1,750 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Antony's speech that you ask about is in Act 3.1.164-179 of my edition.  I'll try to specifically answer your question:

  • Tone:  respectful and honorable.  He praises Brutus and the other conspirators in order to manipulate them to do what he wants.
  • What he wants to accomplish:  to be allowed to speak at Caesar's funeral.  Antony, thought of as a bit of a playboy by the conspirators, proves to the superior in intelligence and speaking ability.
  • Motives:  revenge and power.  He knows if he can speak before the fickle Roman crowd, he can transform them into a mob and bring down the conspirators.  He seems to have also really loved Caesar.
  • Why not a soliloquy:  placing this content in a soliloquy would make no sense.  Antony's purpose is to praise the conspirators, pretend to be allied with them, and get them to allow him to speak at Caesar's funeral.  He can't do those things if the conspirators are not listening. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from The University of Alabama

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In Act III, Scene 1, of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the "Ides of March have come" as the soothsayer tells Caesar.  But, he ignores the warning and refuses to read the message of Artimdedorus.  Consequently, the conspirators are able to slay the ruler.  After they stab Caesar repeatedly, Anthony, who has been led away by Trebonius, Antony's servant comes to Brutus and the others and asks for permission on behalf of Antony to speak.  Against the advice of Cassius, Brutus agrees. 

Knowing what an idealist Brutus is, Antony takes a chance and tells the conspirators that he is ready to die if they wish:

I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,

Now, whilst your purpled hadn do reek and smoke,

Fulfill your pleasure.  Live a thousand years,

I shall not find myself so apt to die;

No place will please me so, no mean of death,

As here by Caesar, and by  you cut off,

The choice and master spirits of this age. (III,i,156-168)

Here Antony takes a great risk, but his servant, in repeated his persmission, has probably also relayed the words of Brutus, "Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman; I never thought him worse" (III,i,138-139).  So, Marc Antony understands that Brutus is so much of an idealist that he is unrealistic about the motives of others.  Therefore, counting on this idealism of Brutus, he feigns his readiness to be assassinated alongside Caesar. 

By saying these words in the presence of Brutus and the others, Antony has them off guard, so to speak.  Then, when he does give his funeral oration, the conspirators do not at first suspect him of wanting to undermine their "noble" cause until it is too late and Antony has the Roman crowd incensed and a bloody civil war commences.

The meaning of Marc Antony's monologue becomes even more apparent to the audience after the conspirators leave.  For, in his soliloquy, Antony reveals his true feelings as well as his intentions:  He places a curse upon the "limbs of men";

Domestic fury and fierce civil strife

Shall cumber all parts of Italy;

Blood and destruction shall be so in use (III,i,261-265) 


check Approved by eNotes Editorial