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MARK ANTONY (83-30 B. C.)

THE AVENGER OF CAESAR

M

ARCUS ANTONIUS, or Mark Antony, as he is usually called,

a brave and able general and the friend and lieutenant of

Cæsar, became his avenger after his death at the hands of Brutus and his fellow-conspirators. By his artful and eloquent funeral oration over the body of the slain dictator he roused the fury of the populace against the conspirators, who were forced to flee from Rome. In the war that succeeded, Antony commanded the army by which that of Brutus and Cassius was defeated, Brutus killing himself on the battlefield. The remainder of the story of Antony has to do with the triumvirate (the three-man power) formed by Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus,—by which the freedom of Rome was again overthrown, -his fatal love for Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, his war with and defeat by Octavius, and his final suicide.

BRUTUS DENOUNCED [Brutus, the leader of the conspirators, made a brief oration in his own defense over the dead body of Cæsar. He was followed by Mark Antony, as above stated. From Shakespeare's "Julius Cæsar,” we extract Antony's skillful and insidious reply, one of the most famous examples of oratorical composition in all literature. As we were obliged to go to the pages of the ancient historians for our examples of the speeches of several Greek and Roman orators, we seem equally justified in selecting those of Brutus and Antony from the great modern dramatist.)

FRIENDS, Romans, countrymen ! Lend me your ears.
I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them ;
The good is oft interred with their bones :
So let it be with Cæsar !

The noble Brutus
Hath told you, Cæsar was ambitious.

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If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Cæsar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest
(For Brutus is an honorable man,
So are they all, all honorable men),
Come I to speak in Cæsar's funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious ;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill;
Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious ?
When that the poor hath cried, Cæsar hath wept !
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious ;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that, on the Lupercal,
I thrice presented him a kingly crown;
Which he did thrice refuse: Was this ambition ?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious ;
And sure he is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke;
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once ; not without cause;
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him ?
O judgment ! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there, with Cæsar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

But yesterday, the word of Cæsar might
Have stood against the world ; now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters ! if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong,

and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honorable men.
I will not do them wrong. I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men.

But here's a parchment, with the seal of Cæsar ;
I found it in his closet; 'tis his will.

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Let but the commons hear this testament
(Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read),
And they would go and kiss dead Cæsar's wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy,
Unto their issue. —
Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Cæsar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men,
And, being men, hearing the will of Cæsar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad.
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs,
For if you should, O! what would come of it?

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle ; I remember
The first time ever Cæsar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent,-
That day he overcame the Nervii.-
Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through;
See, what a rent the envious Casca made ;
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed ;
And, as he plucked his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Cæsar followed it ;
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knocked, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar's angel ;
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Cæsar loved him!

This, was the most unkindest cut of all.
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquished him! Then burst his mighty heart
And, in his mantle muffing up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue
(Which all the while ran blood), great Cæsar fell.

O, what a fall was there, my countrymen !
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us !
O, now you weep; and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity. These are gracious drops.

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Kind souls ! What! weep you when you but behold
Our Cæsar's vesture wounded ? Look you here!
Here is himself, marred, as you see, by traitors.

Good friends! Sweet friends! Let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny !
They that have done this deed are honorable !
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it! They are wise and honorable
And will, no doubt, with reason answer you.

I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts ;
I am no orator, as Brutus is,
But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man,
That love my friend, and that they knew full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him !
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor power of speech,
To stir men's blood.

I only speak right on.
I tell you that which you yourselves do know,
Show you sweet Cæsar's wounds, poor, poor, dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me. But were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Cæsar, that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.

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