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Friends, Romans, Countrymen October 24, 2015

Posted by anagasto in history, poetry.
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Shakespeare’s version of the famous speech is meant to show how politicians play with the feelings of their voters.
It took Mark Anthony just 5 minutes to turn a few thousand enemies into friends. Below is a print of the complete speech:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears:
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him

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friends romans countrymen
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The clues of this speech

– Repetition

– Irony:

Mark Anthony says “Brutus is surely a noble man“.

He repeats it so many times over that the audience ends up suspecting his real intention.
Little by little, collectively, as if synchronized, they begin to feel angry, while Mark Anthony tells them more and more clearly that maybe Brutus is NOT a noble man, but a despicable craven bastard.

This works because many people pay no attention to insult, but feel intimidated or impressed by irony, especially in a crowd or at a party. This explains how Mark Anthony could sway the crowd.

Shakespeare was interested in this principle because as a playwright he also had to play with people’s feelings.
Definition of Irony: Basically, irony is saying the opposite of what you mean. Everybody uses it.
For example, it suddenly starts to rain and you say: “Just what I need when I don’t have my umbrellla”.
Or you see a very ugly car parked in the street and you say: “Here is the vehicle that I have always wanted.”
Or former US President B. Clinton saying in his 2012 convention speech “Now there are two of us” meaning “we are many”.

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Coliseum Rome by Reyes Murillo

The Coliseum in Rome by José Antonio Reyes Murillo published with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Famous quotes

… .. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: quoted above

… .. Et tu, Brute! (Act III, Scene I). Caesar gets stabbed, sees Brutus among the aggressors and says: “You too?” as if he could not believe that his friend had joined his enemies.

… .. Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. (Act III, Scene II).

… .. Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. (Act II, Scene II).

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The play as a whole is difficult to read because it is not streamlined. The focus changes all the time, but Mark Anthony’s speech is famous.

 

Comments»

1. Anonymous - August 3, 2014

The most brilliant speech for changing peoples’ minds and hearts.
Your comments are very helpful


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