What did Shakespeare actually mean when he wrote Antony's speech? "The evil that men do lives after them and the good is often interred with their bones."

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In starting early on with this statement in his speech to the people, Mark Antony is stating that history is written by the victors. He is acknowledging that Brutus and his conspirators are the victors, having managed to kill Caesar. Brutus has just made a speech justifying the murder of Caesar by saying Caesar was too ambitious and that his ambitions threatened Rome.

Mark Antony states that in focusing on the evils Caesar may have done, his good deeds are forgotten (buried with him). Antony then goes to remind his listeners of some of those good deeds and uses them to question Brutus's version of what Caesar was like.

Antony asserts that Caesar's good deeds show him not to be ambitious. For example, he "wept" for the poor: Antony notes, too, that "ambition should be made of sterner stuff" than concern for the poor. Antony also points out that he offered three times to crown Caesar as monarch, thus planning to put a tremendous amount of power into his hands, but that Caesar turned him down.

Mark Antony is deeply upset over Caesar's death and wants to incite the crowd against Brutus and his followers by reminded them of all the good Caesar did.

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Shakespeare's famous lines extracted from Marc Antony's funeral oration are, indeed, profound. For, more often than not, people are remembered more for the mistakes they have made or the bad deeds they have committed rather than for the good works or positive contributions that they have made to society.

With these words from his oration, Marc Antony wishes to discredit the charges of Brutus against Julius Caesar in the speech previous to his in which Brutus accuses Caesar of being so ambitious that he might become tyrannical. Brutus then asks the Romans,

Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? (3.2.21-22)

Antony contends that Caesar's ambition was not present in many previous acts such as his conquering of other nations and bringing the "ransoms" back to Rome; he was presented a "kingly crown" three times at the feast of Lupercal, yet Caesar turned it down each time; furthermore, he gave money to the poor in the past.

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