Whose speech was more effective in Julius Caesar, Marc Antony or Brutus?

Based on the crowd's reaction in Julius Caesar, it certainly seems that Antony's speech was more effective. While Brutus tried to appeal to logic, Antony spoke directly to the crowd's emotions and painted Caesar as a virtuous man viciously killed. Antony's speech incites the crowd to fervor, and by the end of act three, riots against Brutus and his co-conspirators are sweeping through Rome.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Judging by the reaction of the masses, and their ensuing riot towards the end of act three, scene two, one could argue that Antony's speech was more effective than Brutus's. During Julius Caesar's public funeral, Brutus proceeds to give the masses a logical argument as to why he conspired with the disgruntled senators to assassinate Julius Caesar. Brutus states that Caesar was an ambitious politician, who would surely enslave the Romans once he usurped power. Brutus also mentions that he was motivated by his love for Rome to murder Caesar and believes that his actions were justified. His speech is straightforward and logical, which is not nearly as persuasive as Antony's moving funeral oration.

Unlike Brutus, Antony brilliantly utilizes a variety of persuasive techniques, which effectively stir the masses in his favor. Antony begins his speech by associating with the populace and referring to them as "Friends, Romans, countrymen." This plain-folks appeal allows the audience to connect with Antony and accept him as one of their own. Antony proceeds to utilize irony and repetition by continually referring to Brutus as an honorable man while highlighting Caesar's selfless, charitable actions, which effectively undermines Brutus's previous argument. Antony also uses loaded words to portray Caesar in a positive light, shows emotion by weeping over his corpse, and draws attention to the brutality of his murder by elaborating on his numerous wounds, which evokes the audience's sympathy.

Antony exaggerates Brutus's role by referring to his cut as the "unkindest cut of all" and proceeds to read Caesar's will aloud to the public, proving his benevolence and destroying Brutus's argument that he was ambitious. Antony's passion and arguments resonate with the audience as he successfully plays on the public's emotions. Immediately following Antony's speech, the masses begin to riot and attempt to harm Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Overall, Antony cleverly utilizes persuasive techniques, appeals to the emotions of the Roman populace, and disapproves Brutus's claim that Caesar was an ambitious politician, which is why his oration is significantly more effective than Brutus's speech.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team