What is the basic difference between the two funeral orations of Brutus and Mark Antony?

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The basic difference between the funeral speeches of Brutus and Antony is that Brutus, characteristically, appeals to reason and logic, while Antony, characteristically, appeals to emotions. Brutus is an introverted, solitary philosopher, and his speech to the citizens is totally in character. He explains his reasons for killing Caesar. He is also a trained orator and delivers a sort of model of classic rhetoric. This is particularly obvious in the balanced sentences he uses in his opening remarks.

Hear me for my cause, 
and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine
honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may
believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your
senses, that you may the better judge. 

Brutus is a rational man and believes that other men can be persuaded by reason. He is anxious to justify himself. His speech is full of the word "I." He never once mentions Cassius or any of the other conspirators. His major character trait is that he is a thinker. He expects other men to be thinkers too, because we all tend to judge others by ourselves.

Antony, on the other hand, is an extrovert and a hedonist. Throughout Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is characterized as a man who loves pleasures of the senses. This, of course, includes lots of wine drinking, and drinking liquor is antithetical to thinking. Whereas Brutus loves to think, it would seem that Antony is an escapist who doesn't like to think at all. His main character trait is that he is guided by his feelings. He expects other men to be guided by their emotions too--and in this he shows a much better understanding of people than Brutus. Antony appeals to the citizens' feelings right from the beginning. He does this easily, because he really does have strong feelings about the death of his friend Julius Caesar. He loved Caesar, he hates the conspirators, he wants revenge--and he also wants to save his own life and to achieve a position of power in the new order which will have to take form after the elimination of Julius Caesar. Here is only one example of the emotionalism in Antony's speech:

You all did love him once, not without cause;
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Antony is not giving a formal speech. Here he actually breaks down and weeps. Pretty soon he has this whole mob of rough, tough men crying with him. 

O, now you weep, and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity. These are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.

According to Plutarch, on whom Shakespeare relied heavily for the incidents in his play, it was when Antony displayed Caesar's shredded and bloody cloak that the citizens were moved to mutiny. This is just one more example of the way in which Antony wisely appeals to emotions rather than logic. When the mob tears the unfortunate Cinna the poet to pieces just because he has the same name as one of the conspirators, the mob is demonstrating their irrationality.

Brutus' speech seems cold, stiff, formal, schooled, and rehearsed. No doubt Brutus planned it ahead of time because he knew what was going to happen. Antony couldn't have rehearsed his own speech because the assassination took him completely by surprise. Antony's speech is extemporaneous and highly charged with emotion. These two men's speeches reveal their characters. Brutus is bookish and doesn't really like or understand other people, especially the common people. Antony is athletic and fun-loving, and he understands other people because he spends much of his time consorting with them. The citizens respect Brutus but they identify with Antony as one of their own. Brutus made a terrible mistake when he agreed to allow Antony to address the Roman citizens at Caesar's funeral.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus' oration shows that he has sincerely acted on the behalf of Rome, and speaks plainly and to the point.  He states his case as to why Caesar had to die, appealing to the crowd's reason, and convinces them of his honest intentions to do what he thought was best for Rome.  In contrast, Mark Antony appeals to the crowd's emotion -- stating how Caesar had had the Roman welfare near and dear to his heart, ("When the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept!" ) and what civic improvements he was to make for the Rome's benefit, as examples.  He states that he and Caesar were friends, and dramatically reveals the stabbed, bloody corpse as a final persuasion that he was wrongfully murdered, and incites the crowd to punish Brutus and company for their wrongdoing.

pinkytune123 | Student

Marcus Brutus and Mark Antony - both of them at the market place in Caesar's funeral held a speech regarding Caesar. Marcus Brutus was not a mind-capturing speaker and was so a simple-tongued fellow. Mark Antony, on the other hand, is a powerful orator with a extreme sense of bewitching the audience by his honey-filled words. Brutus, foolishly enough, let Mark Antony live after assassinating Julius Caesar. This was one of his greatest mistakes in the story which caused nothing but, his doom. As, said Brutus was not a powerful orator, however, still, as a result of being too idealist and having lack of experience in taking realistic decision, permitted Mark Antony to have a speech after him, which meant that he could oppose everything he said as well as can make a plot against him by enraging the folk. So, according to the story, this is how, the two characters came to give speeches at Caesar’s funeral.


Pointing out their major differences in speech; Brutus was not as lively and emotional while giving speeches like Antony. The main objective of his speech was to explain the people why he killed Caesar and to convince them. He, as his goal was to be accomplished, explained the reason he killed Caesar in a simple but charming manner. Though, his speech was somewhat attractive, but; he gave too idealistic proofs and really did not sum up any practical proofs dealing with reality. That shows that Brutus was well at giving idealistic speeches that could usually succeed in making its course but; he never gave any real proofs showing that why Caesar was ambitious, unfair as a dictator.

On the other counter; Mark Antony is the one who understood the common people and crowd psychology. He used many tactics to win the support of the crowd and turn them against the conspirators. He was also realistic and he gave many real examples supporting his case. There are some evidences below:-

  • Action -commenced his oration with a mind-attracting introduction ---

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. 

Purpose/Effect- Mark Antony speaking in this way made the people listen to speech more attentively.

  • Action - said Caesar was a true and faithful friend –

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:

Purpose/Effect- After the people get trapped in his word, he tells this for a cunning scheme/purpose. This part of the speech begins the praise of Caesar.

  • Action – said Brutus was an honorable man after giving some real examples showing that what Brutus said of Caesar is not true.

The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
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.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.

Purpose/Effect- This is the turning point. This made the people convince that Caesar is not as what Brutus claims him to be as well as also did not refer to “disapproving what Brutus spoke”.

  • Action – Gave the practical example of Caesar refusing the crown –

You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?

Purpose/Effect- This hitted the people’s mind. It made the people remember for the first time a notable example of Caesar being astonishingly ambitionless that they had nearly forgotten.

  • Action – Produced Caesar’s will with pretended unwillingness–

Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, bearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;
For, if you should, O, what would come of it!


You will compel me, then, to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar,
And let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? and will you give me leave?

Purpose/Effect – cunningly, made the people emotional at Caesar’s generosity

  • Action – Made them gather round Caesar’s corpse –

You will compel me, then, to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar,

  • Action -  Read Caesar’s will-

Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not: I must tell you then:
You have forgot the will I told you of.

Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.

Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbours and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs forever, common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?

  • Action – Pointed to the tears in Caesar’s garment –

Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it,


This was the most unkindest cut of all;


Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!

From these, I am sure you can understand the difference between the two speeches.

Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question