Julius Caesar: Close Reading Questions
“Romans, countrymen and lovers” (Act III Scene2, line13)
a. This is a speech based on reason (unlike Antony’s
later, which is based on passion). Why does Brutus say the crowd should believe
Brutus believed that it was for the good of Rome for
Caesar to die, and Brutus states "Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves.” He also says that the is wise
b. How many words can you find that are antithetical (that is,
in strong contrast), such as “less”/ “more”, “living”/ “dead”? What is the cumulative effect?
“Love/ Weep,” “Rejoice/Valiant,” and “Ambitious/Slew." These words make Caesar and Brutus sound like good friends and that Brutus killed
Caesar only for the good of the people.
c. Many words and phrases are balanced: for example, “As
Caesar loved me, I weep for him ; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him”. Find more, and say why they are calculated to win over the crowd.
“I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.”
“There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition.”
Brutus praises the death of Caesar as if it was a glorious event for Rome,
and he makes it seem that Caesar’s death was honorable.
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears” (Act III Scene 2, line 71)
uses the word “honourable” to describe Brutus and Cassius eight times. Each
time the way in which it is spoken is different, and with a different purpose. Carefully
trace the transition from the first “For Brutus was an honourable man” to “They that have done this deed
are honourable”, explaining how Antony’s oratory
has led the crowd from one point of view to another.
Antony uses the word “honourable” to describe Brutus and Cassius and each
time the word is used, Antony makes it seem that Brutus and
Cassius were liars and he also makes Caesar seem like a man with good intensions.
b. In his second sentence, Antony
says he is content to let Caesar’s good points be buried with his bones. How
many good points does he in fact make before this 35-line speech is ended?
Antony makes zero good points in his speech and he
focuses the attention on Brutus and Cassius instead. He points out that Caesar is not ambitious and makes Brutus seem like
c. How does Antony
deploy the words “ambition” and “ambitious” to win over the commoners to hid point of view?
Antony uses the word “ambition” to win
over the commoners by making Caesar seem like a noble man, and he also beats around the bush in his speech by focusing the
attention to Brutus and Cassius for their wrong doings.