The Authority of Words
In the tragic play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Antony uses the power of words as a tactic to skillfully persuade the people that Caesar’s death was unjustified. Caesar has been killed by the conspiracy because they thought he was too powerful to be kept alive. His most loyal friend Antony makes a speech in order to persuade the Romans the murder the conspiracy committed was wrong. He uses several techniques to captivate the audience and change their view on Caesar’s death. Antony uses ethos, logos, and pathos to convince his audience that Brutus and the conspiracy had no right to assassinate Caesar.
Antony uses ethos throughout his speech to verify the credibility of Brutus’s opinions and to pacify the audience. An appeal to ethos is an appeal to appear credible to the audience. Antony introduces his speech by saying, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. / I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him” (III.ii.82-83). He welcomes the Romans as his friends, which puts them at ease and makes them want to listen to what he has to say. Antony tells the audience that he did not come to talk about the achievements of Caesar and that allows the Romans to listen without knowing that he is trying to persuade them into thinking that Caesar was not an ambitious person. By using the word “friends” it makes them think that Antony is respectable and they can trust what he is saying. After Antony told the audience that Brutus
said Caesar was ambitious, he goes on to verify Brutus’s opinion by reiterating that, “Brutus is an honorable man; / So are they all, all honorable men-” (III.ii.91-92). This leads the people to think that he respects Brutus, even though he is disagreeing with him, and it allows the audience not to be defensive. Antony continually repeats that Brutus is an honorable man and then follows with examples of why Caesar was not ambitious. It gives the effect that Brutus is an honorable man, but murdering Caesar was not noble of him. Ethos creates the tone that Antony is a trustworthy person and that Brutus is respectable person, but what he did to Caesar was unjust.
In addition, he uses logos to support Caesar’s actions and to prove that he was not ambitious in his actions. Logos means to persuade someone using reasoning and logic. During the speech, Antony remarks that Caesar, “brought many captives home to Rome/ Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill” (III.ii.97-98). He uses an example of what Caesar did for Rome and how he brought wealth to the city in order to improve Rome. This leads the Romans to think that Caesar did everything possible for the betterment of Rome and he was concerned about the well being of the city and he was not doing this for himself. In order...