What does this quote by Antony in "Julius Caesar" mean? "...let me not stir you up to such a sudden flood of mutiny.."

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this quote Marc Anthony is speaking to the crowd at Caesar's funeral.  He has told the people how much Caesar loved them, he has told them that even though the men who killed him were "honorable" men,( he then begins to prove they are traitors), they stabbed Caesar because he was ambitous.  The crowd begins to listen intently to Marc Anthony when he tells them that Ceaser refused to take the crown three different times.  Marc indicates the he should not read Caesar's will because the crowd will become too angry when they hear how much their Caesar loved them.  They demand revenge and begin becoming unsettled and shouting angry replies.  It is then that Marc Anthony says,

"Good friends, sweet friends, don’t let me stir you up
To such a sudden flood of rebellion.
They who have done this deed are honorable.
What private sorrows they have that made them do it,
Alas, I don’t know,
They're wise and honorable,And will, no doubt, answer you with reasons."

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What makes this quote really interesting is that it develops the dramatic irony in Antony's funeral oration. Despite what Antony says, we know that stirring up the crowd and turning them against the conspirators is exactly what he intended to do, and he does it masterfully. Antony is shown in this scene to be highly intelligent and manipulative. He plays upon the emotions of the crowd. He understands human nature in a way that escapes Brutus completely.