Analysis Of ' The Corpse Of Brutus ' Essay

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Standing over the corpse of Brutus, Antony begins his terse and final speech with the words “This was the noblest Roman of them all.” In order to discover the meaning of this claim, we must look to the next few lines in which Antony provides support for it. He notes that “all the conspirators save only he / did that they did in envy of great Caesar.” This seems, at least regarding Brutus, to be accurate. We find evidence for this in the beginning of the scene set in Brutus’s orchard. Brutus says regarding Caesar “I know no personal cause to spurn at him, / But for the general.” While it is not, as we shall soon find, always advisable to take the claims of this play’s characters at face value, these words are spoken when Brutus is alone and consequently without reason to dissemble. Brutus thus does not bear any personal envy for Caesar but only opposes him for the general cause, which is the common welfare of Rome. This aligns very well with what Antony says next in his final speech, that Brutus “only in a general honest thought / And common good to all made one of [the conspirators].” So far, then, Antony seems to reckon Brutus “the noblest Roman of them all” because of his commitment to the general welfare at the expense of his own, and his speech perhaps expresses a tragically-late recognition of Brutus’s greatness.
The next three lines of this speech, however, when contrasted with the first line, present a serious claim about nobility as it applies to the citizen and to
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