Jason H. Chang
Counteracting the Opposition
Julius Caesar was probably one of the most prominent figures in Roman history, known for his strong willed nature and commanding presence. In 44 BCE, Caesar was voted in to be Dictator perpetuo (often mistranslated as dictator for life).Worried that Caesar was becoming too powerful, several Roman senators including Brutus (a close friend of Caesar’s) assassinated Caesar while Caesar himself was by tradition, unarmed and defenseless. Following the assassination Brutus convinces the Roman citizens that Caesar was evil and overly ambitious. This places Marc Antony, a close friend of Caesar with a large burden to counteract Brutus’s arguments. Convincing his fellow Romans to change sides is no small feat; this makes the use of reverse psychology and irony a necessary task enabling Antony to give a eulogy that instills an idea of a nobler Caesar in the Roman people, subtly sowing the seeds of rebellion within the populace. Gaining the support of the people is no easy task for any one man, be it politician, speaker, or intellectual, and Antony recognizes this and compensates for it through clever phrasing. Considering himself as being as “no orator like Brutus,” Antony asserts and implies that he is a modest person and that such modesty contrasts with the dishonesty of Brutus’s actions and words. By doing this, Antony puts himself in a better light, setting up a position of authority that is complemented with an assurance that all that he says is of the truth. He also uses irony to convey his message. Throughout his speech he frequently addresses Brutus and his fellow conspirators to be “honorable men.” The repetition of this phrase soon becomes a sort of subtle derogatory statement towards Brutus and the other conspirators, bringing down the credibility of Brutus’s speech and the conspirators as whole. After establishing a firm position by gaining the attention of the crowd, Marc Antony begins to attack the idea that...
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