Antony Character Traits
What are some important traits of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?
It is interesting that each time Marc Antony effects massive changes in Roman history, Shakespeare employs the phrase of "the tide of times." Truly, the powerful character of Marc Antony does turn the tide of events because of his strong traits:
Marc Antony effectively convinces Brutus that he has so loved Caesar that he merely wishes to give a funeral oration, promising that he will not speak against the conspirators. Of course, with his use of irony in his oration, Antony does not overtly malign the conspirators, but he certainly does create doubt in the minds of the Romans:
He [Caesar] was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.(3.2.93-95)
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?(3.2.100-105)
Further in his funeral oration, Marc Antony employs rhetorical devices, such as apostrophe as he calls upon other forces to condemn the conspirators:
O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. (3.2.112-113)
Later in his speech, Antony uses antitrosphe:
O masters! If I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honorable men.
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men. (3.2.131-137)
In Act III, Marc Antony does not mind that civil war will damage Rome; he simply wants to foil the plans of the conspirators to rule Rome as he urges the citizens to "move/The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny"(3.2.240).
In Act IV, Marc Antony and the others of the triumvirate argue who will live and who will die in order for them to accomplish their aims. Antony condemns Lepidus, his nephew, as a "slight unmeritable man" who is only useful to run errands. The triumvirate also seek to extract money from Caesar's will despite Antony's promise that it would all go to the Roman citizens. Then, in Act V, Antony argues with Octavius on battle stratagem as he orders him to lead the battle on the left.
Despite his betrayal of Brutus and the others, and his cruelty toward Lepidus and his selfishness, Marc Antony does prove in Act V that he yet possesses some honor. When Lucilius pretends to be Brutus in his effort to protect his leader in Scene 4, Antony orders that Lucilius be protected because he is "no less in worth" than Brutus. Again, in Scene 5, Antony pays his respects to Brutus after his death, recognizing the integrity of the man,
This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them. (5.5.74-77)
To Marc Antony's credit, his attitude toward Brutus does "turn the tide."
Marc Antony is one of the more important characters and supporters of Julius Caesar, and subsequently Augustus, in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. Brutus characterizes Antony as:
To sports, to wildness, and much company (II.1.188-89)
Antony is an important military leaser, known as a skilled general. He is enormously popular with his troops, because he has "the common touch" and is known for circulating around the camps and talking to the soldiers as individuals. He is known to have a fondness for luxury, indulging, as it were, in wine, women, and song. As the play progresses, we find that Antony's popularity actually makes him a significant threat to the conspirators and the he is a very effective demagogue.