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Essay: Julius Caesar (painting representing the picture that Antony paints with his speech)

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Introduction: The analysis is from the outside looking in to represent an audience viewing a work of art. The speech exposes characters in the play and shows hypocrisy the same way we use art to express such political sentiments. The painting represents the picture that Antony paints with his speech, and the details in the art represent rhetorical devices.

Preface of the scene discussed in art

How the speech relates to Julius Caesar

A. “You all did see that on the Lupercal, I thrice presented him a kingly crown,Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?” (Shakespeare, lines 94-96).

1. Antony tries to disprove the main incentive for the murder – Julius Caesar’s outright reckless ambition – in order to make the murder seem more barbarically meaningless. Antony poses a rhetorical question to ensure the audience is following his train of thought. When a plebian answers this question with the obvious answer, they are forced to deduce that Brutus was wrong, and thus wrong in murdering him despite the political agenda. This further paints Julius as an innocent, idle man, his political influence demanded by the people yet humbly refused. He is glorified in his death to an impossibly godlike standard, where he is omnipotent in his political authority yet not tyrannical. Though this isn’t true, this is the idea perpetuated by Mark Antony in his speech.

2. In the painting, Caesar’s false sainthood is shown by his blood. He is bleeding gold, a reference to Inchor, the greek/roman mythological blood of the gods. The allusion even extends to Julius Caesar’s arrogance, as myth goes that any mortal who ventures as far as to call themselves a God and touch the blood automatically dies (Greekmythology.com, accessed March 2018). This relates to Julius because the conspirators claim the very thing that killed him was his own ambition- not literally, of course.

3. The painting additionally shows the historical inaccuracy of Caesar refusing the crown. A laurel made of olive branches is levitating above his head, a hand from the sky reaching out to grab it. In history, Julius was a tyrant, and seized power. Historically, he was elected as a consul, but he bribed Pompey’s armies to join him and seize Gaul. From here, he assumed an emperor-like status where he was ultimately a dictator (Laura B. Tyle, Accessed April 2018).

B. “Here is the will, and under Caesar’s seal. To every Roman citizen he gives, To every several man, seventy-five drachmas” (Shakespeare, lines 232-234).

1. Antony says here that Caesar leaves seventy five drachmas for every citizen. He uses repetition, saying “to every (citizen)” twice. He reinforces Caesar’s honor proudly, crediting the news to the late ruler in full by authenticating it with his very seal. This very news is what coerced the crowd to his mindset.

2. In the painting, this pride that Antony shows is dually explained by his loyalty to Caesar and also his knowing that Brutus will be seen as a villain. Antony is forcing any parts of the crowd that may still like Brutus to directly benefit from his generosity. His pride is obvious, and he wears it proudly, so two drachmas hold his toga together.

C. “They that have done this deed are honourable: What private griefs they have, alas, I know not, That made them do it: they are wise and honourable, And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you” (Shakespeare lines 204-206).

1. Here, Antony uses verbal irony (sarcasm) to mock the conspirators for not having any real reason for murdering Caesar. He expresses that he doesn’t know personally how the benefit from it with their obvious grief.

2. Antony says he cannot see why the conspirators commited the deed that they did, but this is completely untrue. I he had a failure of understanding, his very speech wouldn’t exist. Antony is intelligent; and not blind, and things are crystal clear to him: he just chooses to play the confused part to rip his emotional appeal to his audience. He made himself more humanized and saintly in the speech as to benefit his reputation, which ultimately benefited his political career. “The result of his speech was the formation of the Second Triumvirate of Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus (c. 90–13 B.C.E.). As a triumvirate (consisting of three governing officials called triumvirs), they assumed absolute authority for ruling the empire, although Antony and Octavian soon edged Lepidus out of power” (Laura B. Tyle, Accessed March 2018). In the painting, the clarity of Antony’s actions is represented by his crystallically blue eyes. His prosperity and vitality as a political persona is expressed by his vibrant skin (in contrast of course to julius and brutus).

How the speech relates to Marcus Brutus

A. “Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest– For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men..” (Shakespeare lines 80-82).

1. This oration given by Antony about Brutus is an example of irony. It’s disguised irony, but still definitely irony. Antony compares Brutus, described by him as an “honorable man,” to the lot of conspirators, and furthermore, their murder. Murder is easily distinguishable as an unhonorable act, to say the least. This enables Antony to let the audience deduce that, when compared, Brutus is just as ‘honorable’ as the very murder he committed. It is also an example of an Antistrophe, as the phrase about Brutus’ honor is reiterated throughout the speech. This repetition reinforces the deductive reasoning Antony is inserting into the audience.

2. Brutus’ false honor is shown by the war bonnet on his head. It is traditionally Roman. The bonnet represents his honor, and how Antony describes it- it is tarnished and not valued. This is also a commentary on the false try that Brutus is a tragic hero- the hero part being equivalent to a warrior. Brutus does not fit criteria for a tragic hero because he never admitted his own mistakes, only ignored them with suicidal action. Though some of Brutus’ honor is self-righteous in the tragedy, Shakespeare does depict him somewhat nobly. However, this is characteristically untrue of the politician. Cicero, one of Brutus’ real life colleagues who traditionally thought of him highly, is recorded as saying that “…For all his admiration of Brutus, (Cicero) found him obstinate, aloof, and arrogant” (Marcus Junius Brutus, accessed March 2018).

How the speech relates to Mark Antony

A. “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know” (Shakespeare lines 99-100).

1. Antony uses an antithesis here to reverse the purpose of his speech, keeping himself as unhostile as possible. He doesn’t want to directly admit to exposing Brutus so he can keep a peaceful and solemn image to the public, a stark contrast to the tale of brutality he is admitting against Brutus. Antony keeps the contrasting bit sly and inconspicuous in his speech as to let the audience feel as though they have a choice in whose narrative to believe, although he has obviously already won them over.

2. In my painting, Antony is shown with a knowing smirk on his face, an obvious indication of his intention with the speech. He parallels his intentions spoken to Brutus and Cassius with a paradoxed speech, his slanderous aim unassuming with his crafty sarcasms.

B. “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 Caesar..” (Shakespeare, lines 103-105).

1. Here, Antony uses a hyperbolic metaphor to exaggerate his feelings about Julius Caesar’s death. He does this to show excessive empathy for the deceased politician, garnering an emotional reaction from the crowd. This forces the crowd to deduce that Julius Caesar was known personally by Antony as a man not deserving of death.

2. This exaggeration is shown in the painting by Julius Caesar’s decapitation (of course, not how he really died). This physical disconnect from brain to body shows how Antony is only using Caesar’s fictional emotion-worthy side, and disregarding the cruel reality that he acted upon (shown by his body as it was his physical actions). The inaccuracy of the decapitation is a remark to the historical falsehood of Antony’s speech. One such pretense is when Antony says “You all did see that on the Lupercal, I thrice presented him a kingly crown,Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?” (Shakespeare, lines 94-96). In reality, After several alliances, Caesar seized power and became dictator of the Roman Empire, a rule that lasted for just one year before his death (Laura B. Tyle, Accessed April 2018).

VI.

Placement and Actions

1. Behind all three men, the senate building looms over. On the right side, it is catching fire, and on the left, an owl rests on top of the building. Blood pours over the steps.

2. The senate stands behind the men because it demonstrates a deviation in the story and its longevity in history. The issue in the tragedy succeeded political boundary and became a moral affair concerning the character content of our leaders. The fire starts on the right side because it is closest to Brutus, who set the chain reaction for all of the change in government. The fire is still actively moving because the actions of the conspirators will have affect long after the resolution. An owl is on the left side as a homage to Antony’s intellect and war strategy (far away from Brutus as he lacks this) because a symbol of Athena, the patron goddess of war and wisdom, is owls. It also reflects the signs mentioned earlier in the story. Blood pours from the senate steps as another item of Julius’ dream, but it also symbolizes the long lasting effect Julius’ death had on politics ( the blood is oxidized and stained on the steps ).

Color Scheme

1. The colors are complimentary and dark.

2. The colors remain clashing and complimentary to show chaos in the politics, and how there’s a lingering issue beyond these men (in front). It’s dark because it is pictured in back and also not glorified in the story, it is rather pushed away.

Works Cited

  • “Caesar, Julius.” UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, edited by Laura B. Tyle, vol. 2, UXL, 2003, pp. 335-338. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3437500150/GVRL?u=chat65949&sid=GVRL&x id=024fee85. Accessed 8 Apr. 2018.
  • Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Elements of Literature: Fourth Course, Eds. Amy Fleming and Julie Barnett Hoover, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2005, pp. 756-771.
  • “Marcus Junius Brutus.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2004, pp. 79-80. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404700954/GVRL?u=chat65949&sid=GVRL&x id=c7d47023. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.
  • “Ichor.” Greek Mythology, www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Elements/Ichor/ichor.html.
  • “Mark Antony.” UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, edited by Laura B. Tyle, vol. 7, UXL, 2003, pp. 1240-1243. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3437500518/GVRL?u=chat65949&sid=GVRL&x id=38648181. Accessed 29 Mar. 2018.

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