Essay about Rhetorical Analysis of Antony’s Funeral Speech

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On the Ides of March in 44 B.C., Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a group of prominent politicians led by Marcus Brutus. The sudden death of Caesar created a power vacuum which gave rise of a two factions, one headed by Brutus and Cassius and the other by Antony and the future triumvirs. Shortly after Caesar’s death, Antony spoke at his funeral and used the opportunity to lead the Roman people away from Brutus and back to believing in Caesar and consequently, the Second Triumvirate. By combining a subtle use of questions and interjections to keep audience engaged, a variety of rhetorical devices devices that dignify Caesar and himself, and an effective use of all three modes of persuasion, Antony is able to convert the…show more content…
However, the most important use of a rhetorical question is in the last line where he challenges his audience if there “comes such another [Caesar]?”. Here the rhetorical question serves to summarize the greatness of Caesar and to pass the responsibility for future actions onto the listeners. As a result, the people will be more likely to act against the conspirators after they have realized there will not be anyone as good as Caesar. By keeping his listeners thoroughly engaged, Antony is able to further develop on his purpose by utilizing diverse rhetorical devices. Near the beginning, he makes effective use of parallelism to list Caesar’s selfless deeds, like “when that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept”, which gives the effect that the list is so long that Antony cannot describe it in unique detail. Additionally, his parallel repetition of “Brutus says he was ambitious and Brutus is an honorable man” serves as sarcasm. By repeating each good action with these two lines, Antony is getting the audience to contrast Caesar’s endless good deeds with Brutus’s repetitive and conflicting argument. Further on in the speech, Antony uses proslepsis somewhat obviously to reveal Caesar’s will to the people. He tells them that he found “a parchment with the seal of Caesar...tis his will”, yet quickly stops himself from telling anymore. Therefore, the audience is intrigued by the will and its mention reengages any listeners who

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