What is Mark Antony's message in Julius Caeser?

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Marc Antony is a politician. Within minutes of Caesar's assassination, Antony appeals to the assassins to let him speak with them. He's led into the senate chamber where Caesar was killed and begs the assassins to kill him as well, invoking Caesar's name whenever possible.

ANTONY. I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfill your pleasure. Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die;
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age. (3.1.171-1770)

Antony...

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shannah3 | Student

Marc Antony's eulogy of Caesar is complex. Marc Antony's has promised the senators to follow their instructions: 1) he can only praise Caesar and 2) he cannot say anything critical about the senators. Simply put, Antony's main thesis of this eulogy is that "Caesar should NOT have been assassinated." This is anything but simple; however, because he cannot come outright and say that. Antony uses sarcasm/verbal irony by repeatedly telling the crowd that Brutus was an "honorable man" when he truly believes the opposite is true. By saying Brutus is honorable he honors his promise and does not anger the crowd. But he must give a parallel view of how Caesar was and allow the crowd to make up their minds.

Antony says that Brutus killed Caesar because Caesar was "ambitious." Now it is important to note that the word ambitious during the time Shakespeare wrote this play (1599-1600) is different than today. Shakespeare used ambitious to mean something negative in a person, such as a drive for personal power or looking out for self advancement at the expense of others. Antony shows the crowd that Caesar wasn't ambitious because: 1) he loved Rome; 2) he thrice refused the crown; 3) he didn't keep war profits for himself, but instead fed the "coffers" of Rome; and 4) he left money and land to every Roman citizen in his will. These reasons convince the crowd that Caesar, indeed, was NOT ambitious, so they realize that he should NOT have been assassinated. Furthermore, they see that Brutus was not honorable in his slaughter of Julius Caesar.