In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Decius Brutus and Mark Antony, both Roman Senators, eulogize Julius Caesar, each using a different technique and approach. Brutus, in a somewhat arrogant, to the point, eulogy, attempts to sway the people. He justifies conspiring against Caesar by stating that Caesar’s ambition would have hurt Rome. However, in Antony’s eulogy, he focuses on Caesar’s positive traits, and cunningly disproves Brutus’ justification for killing Caesar. The fickle Romans waver between leaders, responding emotionally, rather than intellectually, to the orators.
Brutus seeks to explain why he conspired against Caesar. He begins his speech with “Romans, countrymen …”, appealing to their consciousness as citizens of Rome, who, he later says, will benefit as freeman with Caesar’s death. This shows that Brutus knows how to lure the crowd, appealing to their better judgement as Romans. He declares that he is an honorable man, and tells them that he will let them judge the validity of his claims. That is, he will allow the truth to speak for itself. This encourages the crowd to believe him, as an honorable man. He says that he wants them to know the facts; “Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses that you may the better judge.” Sharing information with the people is flattering and it almost guarantees acceptance. He gets their sympathy by saying that he loved Caesar, daring the people to find anyone who loved Caesar more. Brutus declares that he never wronged Caesar, that he cried for Caesar’s love, was happy for his greatness, honored him for his courage, but had to kill him because of Caesar’s ambition. He says that the reason for killing Caesar was his great love for Rome. He justifies his actions by saying that he loved Caesar but, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” He then asks rhetorically if the people would want to live their lives as slaves under Caesar’s rule or would they prefer to live as freemen with Caesar dead. To anyone insulted by his speech he wonders if, as Romans who love their freedom, they could be offended or reject what he, Brutus, says. He poses the question, “Who is here so base that would be a bondman?” He stresses the point, repeating the line, “If any, speak, for him have I offended.” “I pause for a reply.”, allows them to respond to his rhetorical questions, giving them an even greater sense that he cares about them and their opinions. They can only respond, ” None, Brutus, none.” That is, none are offended, they do not disagree or argue with his words or his actions.
Mark Antony’s eulogy utilizes a different approach. He starts out by addressing the crowd as “Friends” because he wants to come to them as a friend rather than a ruler trying to gain power. He then says, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”, thus he can ease in praises of Caesar without the crowd stopping him. He sounds very sincere when he says, “The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious…. For Brutus is an honorable man.” He repeats that statement three more times becoming increasingly sarcastic, saying finally, “Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, and sure he was an honorable man.” Since the people responded positively to Brutus’ speech, Antony could not insult Brutus’ honesty in a direct manner. Yet, Antony disproves Caesar’s ambition with three examples. One is when he gave the ransom of captives to the public treasury and not his own, another when he cried with the poor people, and finally when he refused the kingship that Antony offered him, three times. Anyone who was ambitious would never have done any such things. Antony says, “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke.” , but that is exactly what he does. Antony is using a dramatic effect on the people, first by entering on the stage with the body of Caesar, and at the end stating that his heart is still with the body of Caesar, ending his speech weeping. In justifying Caesar and disproving Brutus, the people see Antony as a potential successor to Caesar. They are swayed to him by his dramatics, his underhanded way of making a point, his repetition, and compelling proof of Caesar’s concern. He is able to get the people to question the rightness of killing Caesar. He has planted doubt in the people’s minds, in all areas except that he, Antony, is, “poor soul”, an honorable.
The difference between the eulogies shows us the importance of style of speech. Both try to appeal to the people, and both use repetition, but Brutus takes a defensive approach, leaving the people to their own conclusions. However, Antony takes a prosecuting approach against Brutus, so sneaky that it is almost subliminal. Furthermore, Antony’s examples give him an advantage over Brutus because he backs up statements while Brutus leaves his statements more open-ended. The people seem to find it easier to accept Antony, an emotional and sincere speaker, than Brutus who appears arrogant and forceful.