On what condition does Brutus allow Marc Antony to make his funeral oration?William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Caesar is slain in the third act of "Julius Caesar," Antony sends a servant to lie prostrate before Brutus and ask him if Antony may come to testify that Caesar deserved to die; Marc Antony will follow Brutus and be loyal to him:

If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony/May safely come to him and be resolved/How Caesar hath deserved to lie in death,/Marc Antony shall not love Caesar dead/So well as Brutus living, but will follow/The fortune and affairs of noble Brutus/Through the hazards of this untrod state/With all true faith. (III,i,143-150)

To this proposal Brutus agrees and tells Cassius, "I know that we shall have him as a friend" (III,i,157).  However, when Antony sees his friend who has been stabbed repeatedly, he changes his tone and praises Caesar.  Suspicious, Cassius tells Antony he does not blame him for praising Caesar, but he wishes to know to whom Antony's loyalties are.  In a line contrary to his promise to explain how Caesar "deserved to die," Antony declares,

Friends am I with you all and love you all,/Upon this hope that you shall give me reasons/Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous (III,i,236-238)

Thus, it certainly seems that Antony has contradicted what he has originally promised to do.  Yet, he asks if he may speak as Antony's friend to the Romans and Brutus agrees.  Cassius pulls Brutus aside and asks him if he knows what he is doing by allowing Antony to speak to the crowd because the crowd may be greatly moved by Antony's words.  But, in his tragic hamartia, or arrogance/over-confidence Brutus agrees to allow Antony to speak.


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Julius Caesar

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