In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony is a confident and loyal friend of Caesar’s, who upon Caesar’s death forms an alliance with Octavius and Lepidus against Cassius and Brutus. Antony is extremely obedient to Caesar and his closest companion. When Cassius and Brutus are discussing the murder of Caesar, Cassius advocates to also murder Antony, stating, “Yet I fear him. / For in the engrafted love he bears to Caesar—” (II. i. 190-91). Here, Cassius is afraid of what Antony might do because Antony has a deep-rooted love for Caesar. Further, when Antony learns of Caesar’s death, he goes to the body and talks cordially with Brutus and Cassius about the reasons Caesar had to die. On the surface he agrees with the two men and pledges allegiance to them; however, upon their exit, Antony engages in a soliloquy that reveals he is still loyal to the late Caesar:
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever livèd in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue—
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men. (III. i. 269-277)
Here, Antony contradicts the allegiances he has pledged to Brutus and Cassius, and instead vows vengeance on “the hand that shed this costly blood!” This demonstrates his profound loyalty as a character.
Another trait of Mark Antony is that he is a pleasure-seeker. In Act 1, Scene 2, when Caesar and Antony are discussing the motives and demeanor of Cassius, Caesar states in an aside to Antony, “He loves no plays, / As thou dost, Antony. \ He hears no music.” (I. ii. 204-05). The juxtaposition reveals that Antony enjoys music and plays. Further, when Cassius expresses concern over Antony’s loyalty and love for Caesar in Act II, Brutus responds with “he is given / to sports, to wilderness and much company” (II. i. 195-96). This description reveals that Antony enjoys recreational activities and the company of women, suggesting he is a known pleasure-seeker.
Finally, Mark Antony is extremely cunning and astute with excellent rhetorical skills. In Act 3, Scene 1, he manipulates Brutus into letting him speak at Caesar’s funeral, and then uses the funeral platform to undermine Brutus’ monopoly on the situation. He questions Brutus’ claims and plays on the crowd’s fears and curiosities:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And, sure, he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know. (III. ii. 89-100)
The above is an excerpt from Antony’s speech and it illuminates how Antony uses excellent rhetorical skills to undermine the authority of Brutus. In this speech, Antony provides examples of Caesar’s behavior, such as his refusal of the “kingly crown” three times, insinuating he was not ambitious as Brutus has said. Yet Antony repeatedly and sarcastically says “And Brutus is an honorable man” to actually challenge Brutus as a leader.
Therefore, the traits of Mark Antony include loyalty and obedience, pleasure-seeking and sensuality, and shrewd wit and rhetorical skills.