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Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 2 Summary

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  • 0:04 Recap
  • 0:31 Brutus' Speech
  • 2:06 Antony's Speech
  • 4:32 Antony & Octavious
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Mallett Smith

Jennifer has taught high school English for eight years and has a master's degree in curriculum and assessment.

This lesson will describe Act III, scene 2 of Shakespeare's play, 'The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.' In Brutus' speech, he believes that he has acted in the best interest of his country, while Marc Antony's speech persuades the crowd otherwise.

Recap

Sometimes it takes cunning to convince a crowd to side with you. Both Brutus and Marc Antony make just such attempts in Act III, scene 2 of Julius Caesar.

In Act III, scene 1, the senators murder Caesar because they suspect that he may become a tyrant. Marc Antony flees the scene but returns later when he knows it is safe and requests that he be allowed to speak at Caesar's funeral. We hear Antony tell the body of Caesar that he plans to avenge his death.

Brutus' Speech

In Act III, scene 2, Brutus gives a short speech to a group of plebeians, or common people of Rome. They've demanded to know why Caesar has been killed by the senators, and they seem to distrust Brutus.

Rome Is Priority

Brutus begins his speech with the line: 'Romans, countrymen, and lovers, hear me for my cause.' He addresses his audience as Romans first and friends last. The arrangement of these words shows us that his heart lies with Rome.

Additionally, he states this line: 'If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.' Again, Brutus is appealing to the Romans by demonstrating his love for Rome and stating that Caesar's death was a necessity. Brutus goes on to describe Caesar as an ambitious man but tells them that he will still honor his bravery and that his crimes of ambition have not been exaggerated. He then asks the crowd if they are still upset.

Confident, Brutus Departs

It appears that he has won over the crowd with his honorable speech and reasons for killing Caesar. He leaves them with this line: 'With this I depart: that I slew as my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself when it shall please my country to need my death.' Could this line be foreshadowing? If Brutus is as honorable a character as we have been led to believe, it seems that his death will be inevitable once the plebeians begin to question the crimes of Caesar.

Brutus takes leave and tells the plebeians that he has willingly given permission for Marc Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral and share the achievements of Caesar, a man who was considered to be a great warrior. The commoners eagerly ask Marc Antony to speak.

Antony's Speech

Antony's speech uses several rhetorical devices in an ingenious way to build a case against Brutus and instill feelings of pity and awe for Caesar in the common people. Marc Antony's speech wins over the crowd, resulting in an unfortunate situation for Brutus.

Gaining the Plebeians' Trust

Marc Antony smartly begins his speech with this famous line: 'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.' Can you see the difference in the pattern? Brutus refers to them as Romans first, but Antony refers to them as friends first; this gains the crowd's trust. He also reminds them that they are only thinking of the negative things they've just heard and sneakily reminds them of the great things that Caesar accomplished that they've forgotten.

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