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Examples of ethos, pathos, and logos in Julius Caesar

Summary:

In Julius Caesar, ethos is exemplified by Brutus's reputation for honor and nobility. Pathos is evident in Mark Antony's funeral speech, which stirs the crowd's emotions by highlighting Caesar's benevolence and betrayal. Logos is used when Brutus rationalizes Caesar's assassination by arguing that it was necessary to prevent his tyranny and protect Rome.

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What are examples of ethos, pathos, and logos in acts 1 and 2 of Julius Caesar?

William Shakespeare employed many literary techniques and devices to enhance his dramas. These are especially notable in his tragedies. He often paired together the literary devices of ethos, pathos, and logos to give his audience deeper insights into his major characters.

Ethos is often used to demonstrate to an audience the general disposition of a major player in a drama. Without specificity, the playwright communicates the nature of a character in a play. Shakespeare routinely uses ethos in Julius Caesar. For example, in Act I of the play, ancient festival games are being played to ensure fertility. The Romans are also honoring Caesar as the new Roman leader after Pompey was killed. Mark Antony is participating in a run during the games. Caesar publically notes that his wife Calpurnia is sterile. As Antony passes by, Caesar tells him to touch Calpurnia as a cure for infertility:

CAESAR.
Forget not in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

Without specifically telling the audience, the message is clear. Caesar is superstitious. Shortly thereafter, a soothsayer warns Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March,” but he ignores the advice. Shakespeare’s use of ethos cleverly demonstrates something significant about Caesar’s disposition.

Pathos allows authors to express passions, suffering, or very deep emotional feelings. It is a literary device that evokes pity or sympathy from an audience. Shakespeare does not tell his audience how his characters feel, he shows their feelings. For example, in Act II, although Brutus loves Caesar, he decides that he must kill him as a sacrifice for the betterment of Rome. However, he deeply regrets the action he must take:

It must be by his death: and for my part,
I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general. He would be crown’d:
How that might change his nature, there’s the question . . .

And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg
Which hatch’d, would, as his kind grow mischievous;
And kill him in the shell.

Brutus is not taking part in the conspiracy because he thinks Caesar is a bad man. Rather, he hopes to prevent tyranny from coming to Rome.

Logos is Greek meaning “logic.” In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare uses logos to convince his audience of the reason and logic his characters employ when making their arguments. For example, when the conspirators hatch their plan to murder Caesar, they realize they might be unable to lure him to the Capitol because he is superstitious and has been warned:

CASSIUS.
But it is doubtful yet
Whether Caesar will come forth today or no;
For he is superstitious grown of late

Nevertheless, Decius convinces them that logic will prevail: Caesar wants to be crowned and is certain the Senate will do so if he appears. He will be ridiculed if he fails to go to the Senate, which will thwart his goal of ruling Rome:

DECIUS.
Never fear that: if he be so resolved,
I can o’ersway him, for he loves to hear
That unicorns may be betray’d with trees,
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
Lions with toils, and men with flatterers.
But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
He says he does, being then most flattered.
Let me work;
For I can give his humour the true bent,
And I will bring him to the Capitol.

There are many examples of ethos, pathos, and logos found in Julius Caesar that should be reviewed. Shakespeare uses those literary devices quite effectively in his tragedies and further exploration is well worth the effort.

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What are examples of ethos, pathos, and logos in Act 2, Scene 1, lines 261-302 of Julius Caesar?

In act 2, scene 1 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Brutus has agreed to join the conspiracy against Caesar, and the conspirators have made their plans. But Brutus's wife, Portia, is concerned about her husband, and she wants him to tell her what is going on and why he has been so upset and secretive. She uses ethos, pathos, and logos to try to convince him.

Ethos refers to the moral argument. Portia argues that she is joined to Brutus in marriage and therefore should know his secrets. She prepares his meals, brings comfort to his bed, and converses with him, but, she implies, if he will not share his confidences with her, she is really not his wife at all. She is more his harlot than his wife. Portia uses the moral argument that Brutus is morally bound not to keep secrets from his wife, but this argument also has elements of logos (logical argument), for Portia is quite logical in how she sets up her position.

Portia uses logos again when she grants that she is a woman but argues convincingly that since she is both Cato's daughter and Brutus' wife, she is stronger than most women and can certainly merit being taken into her husband's confidence and trusted to keep his secrets. Portia combines this argument with a strong element of pathos (appeal to emotions) by stabbing herself in the thigh as proof that she is "man enough" to be told what Brutus is up to.

Finally, Portia uses pathos when she tries to charm Brutus into telling her by appealing to him on her knees and speaking of his vows of love and her worries that he is ill.

None of these efforts work, of course, and Brutus leaves the house without telling Portia that he is planning to help assassinate Julius Caesar.

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In Julius Caesar, how do Brutus and Antony use ethos, pathos, and logos in Act III speeches?

In Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2, Brutus first appeals to the crowd to calm them down and justify his role in killing Caesar. In the next scene, Marc Antony turns the crowd against Brutus, in part by skillfully turning some of Brutus’s own methods back on him. Both men employ logos, an appeal to reason; ethos, an appeal to morality; and pathos, an appeal to emotion.

In Act III, Scene 1, the conspirators, including Brutus, assassinated Caesar. Scene 2 open with Brutus’s efforts to soothe the rapidly growing crowd of angry Romans who are demanding answers. Brutus begins with logos, posing questions that ask them to provide a rational answer which will fit with Brutus’s explanation. If they had not killed Caesar, then Rome’s people would have been subjected to tyranny. He uses a combination of ethos and pathos to explain why he joined the group of murderers. Ethos figures into his rationalization that the assassins plan was undertaken for the good of Rome: it was their civic duty to remove the increasingly dictatorial Caesar. He maintains,

I honor him; but as he was ambitious,

I slew him.

His appeal to pathos emphasizes his personal motivation, emphasizing his love for Caesar. Brutus tells the crowd,

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.

As he leaves, Antony enters with Caesar’s body. He methodically uses Brutus’s own claims to create a very different impression. Antony uses logos in apparently agreeing with the crowd’s shouts, which echo Brutus’s ideas. He claims he is not praising Caesar but apparently agreeing with Brutusthat “Caesar was ambitious” and homing in on the idea of “honor” that Brutus introduced. With the same appeal to ethos, he emphasizes the conspirators’ honor, calling them all “honorable men.” By repeating these claims of honor and ambition, he undermines them, encouraging the crowd toward pathos as they remember the good things Caesar did for them. He also inverts Brutus’s claim of love, attributing it to the citizens:

You all did love him once, not without cause;

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

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