What figure of speech or rhetorical device is exemplified by Ceasar's famous "Et tu, Brute?-Then fall Ceasar!"William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Act III, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as the conspirators approach and Caesar asks why Brutus kneels uselessly, Casca exclaims, "Speak hands for me!" and he and the others stab Caesar.  Caesar sees his friend Brutus and asks the rhetorical question, "Et tu Brute?" which is Latin for "And, you, Brutus?"

A rhetorical question differs from another type of question used in rhetoric, hypophora, in that it is asked without the expectation of a response.  Caesar, completely surprised by the conspirators, is even more amazed to see Brutus as part of them.  The reader will remember that Caesar has mentioned to Marc Antony in Act I that he is wary of the appearance of Cassius who has a "lean and hungry look."  However, Caesar has never entertained the idea that Brutus may wish to assassinate him; instead, Caesar believes Brutus an ally and friend.  His rhetorical question, therefore, expresses this surprise and disbelief, as well as it expresses a disappointment in the noble Brutus.  It is, indeed, more of an emotional expression that a question per se.

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