The Tragedy The Three Modes of Persuasion

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The Tragedy

The Three Modes of Persuasion

Review the speeches by Brutus and Antony. As you read them, ask yourself if they "sound" convincing. Complete the following questions as a means of "accessing" information within these speeches.

Act III, Scene 2


  1. What reason does Brutus give for killing Caesar? (L.18-35)

“Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” Caesar was too ambitious and his ambition (to be king) would have threatened the peace, liberty, and freedom of every Roman and the later is more important to Brutus than his love for Caesar.

  1. What mode of persuasion does Brutus use in his speech? (L. 12-48)

At first Brutus uses an ethical appeal as he says he is the same as every Roman (in the crowd) who highly values his freedom and would let nothing jeopardize it but by the end of his speech, he uses pathos

  1. Identify the first rhetorical question. (L.23-24) What assumption is he making in this statement?

“Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?”

If Caesar were still alive (and became king) Romans would become slaves, so Caesar had to die so Romans could keep their freedom as citizens of Rome

  1. Identify the second rhetorical question. (L. 29-30) What assumption is he making in this statement?

“Who is here so base, that he would be a bondman?” That no one in his audience (among the commoners) feels that they are so unworthy as to desire to become a slave.

  1. Identify the third rhetorical question. (L. 31-32) What assumption is he making in this statement?

“Who here is so rude, that would not be a Roman?” That no one in his audience considers themselves so rough and uncivilized that they would not want to be a Roman.

  1. Identify the fourth rhetorical question. (L.32-33) What assumption is he making in this statement?

“Who is here so vile, that will not love his country?” Only a vile person would not love his country.

  1. What mode of persuasion is Brutus using by asking these rhetorical questions?

Ethos (he is trying to relate to his audience, by pointing out that as Romans, they would agree with his assumption that Caesar had to die because he was too ambitious)

  1. If the crowd (audience) were to disagree with Brutus, what would they be admitting?

They would rather allow Caesar to fulfill his ambitions (become king) and be slaves than remain free Romans

  1. How does Brutus speak highly (show respect for) of Caesar? Why does he do this?

(L. 25-27) as his friend, that he loved him, he honors him for being valiant; to show that he did not kill Caesar for personal reasons and that he loved Caesar just as much as any other Roman (ethical appeal)

  1. What repetitive phrases does Brutus use in his speech? What is the effect of these repetitive phrases?

“for him have I offended” He is trying to create creditability/common ground with his audience (ethical appeal)

  1. Did Brutus successfully convince the crowd that Caesar deserved death? Give textual evidence to support your answer. (L. 49-53)

“Give him a statue with his ancestors…Let him be Caesar…Caesar’s better parts shall be crowned in Brutus.” Their response is ironic. They want Brutus to assume the power from which he tried to save them. They even offer statues and crowns—symbols of the despotism that Brutus wanted to destroy.


  1. Antony says, "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." Antony places Caesar’s body infront of the pulpit from which he is making his speech; what effect might this have on his audience? What type of appeal is this? (L.75-76)

By moving the body to the pulpit, Antony will keep it in the people’s view as he speaks. Antony is trying to appeal to his audience by using logic—he is following Brutus’ speech and his audience sided with what Brutus said; he is beginning his speech with a hostile crowd.

  1. Throughout his speech how does Antony refer to Brutus and the other conspirators? (L.84-85)

“honorable men”

  1. In Scene 2, Antony promised the conspirators that he would not speak ill of them before the crowd. Does Antony keep his promise?

Yes, but he is using verbal irony (the use of words to suggest the opposite of their usual meaning) because he cannot say what he really means. Example: (L.97-101) “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.”

  1. What evidence/reasons does Antony provide to disprove Brutus’ assumption that Caesar was too ambitious and therefore deserved to die? (L.85-105)

He brought many captives back from battles he was victorious in; he brought back riches from the same battles that he added to the public fund; when the poor cried, so did Caesar; he refused a crown offered him three times

  1. In L. 107-09, Why does Antony say that he must pause? Is this effective? What is the mode of persuasion used?

He has supposedly been overcome with grief (he seems to be crying); yes because the plebians feel sorry for him in his grief and say there is no one in Rome nobler than Antony; pathos

  1. Why L. 120-27, "But yesterday the word of Caesar might . . . Than I will wrong such honorable men" ironic?

He pretends to honor the conspirators and keep his promise not to blame them, while insinuating to the audience that the conspirators are traitors

  1. What reasons does Antony give for not reading Caesar’s will? How does the crowd react? (L.142-148)

The crowd would be too overcome with emotion/grief; but they insist on hearing the will

  1. Why does Antony refer to Caesar’s mantle? What type of appeal is this? (L.171-190)

Remind the crowd of all the battles Caesar was victorious in (logos) and then to point out the stab wounds (pathos); although Antony had no way of knowing where Casca, Cassius or Brutus stabbed Caesar, because he was not present at the assassination—the act has great emotional appeal

  1. By pointing out all of the stab wounds, Antony continues to build the image of Caesar as a victim. (L.171-190)

  2. What does Antony say "burst [Caesar's] mighty heart?" What type of emotions does this elicit from the crowd? (L.183-88)

Brutus’ betrayal (that he was numbered among the conspirators); grief and anger as they scream that they will be avenged (pathos)

  1. On L. 212, Why does Antony refer to the crowd as, “Good friends, sweet friends. . .?”

To make an ethical appeal; to show his audience they are the same as he is but also emotional appeal, as it ties in the emotional bond between friends

  1. What does Antony suggest would occur if he had the speaking abilities of Brutus? How does the crowd react? (L.218-234)

He would turn them to mutiny and they do

  1. What is the crowd's reaction to his speech? (L.255-261)

Burn the houses of the conspirators and take revenge on them

  1. As the crowd disperses, Antony says: "Now let it work: Mischief, thou art afoot,/Take thou what course thou wilt." What is Mark Antony saying here? What does the couplet reveal about Antony’s true motives? (L.262-63)

“I’ve set this turmoil (trouble) in motion. Now let it take its course.” The goal of Antony’s speech was to drive the crowd to take vengeance against the conspirators.

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