It’s often said that Shakespeare has a special appeal to audiences in Washington, DC, where the Folger Shakespeare Library is located, because of his handling of political subjects, among many other topics. Certainly, one of Shakespeare’s famous speeches from the plays is a brilliant piece of political oratory by Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, which begins “Friends, Romans, countrymen.”
Antony is a friend of Caesar, who has just been assassinated, and he speaks, with the permission of the assassins, after one of them, Brutus, has made the case for Caesar’s death. At first it seems that Antony is accepting that view and is simply praising his lost friend, but during his speech, the views of the crowd change. Later in the scene, Antony also shares Caesar’s will (above). In our quiz, can you rearrange the lines in Antony’s speech?
You can hear Antony’s speech at the Folger’s Listen: Julius Caesar—look for Act 3, Scene 2. The Folger and our publishing partner, Simon & Schuster Audio, hope you enjoy these excerpts from our audiobook of the play, performed by the professional actors of Folger Theatre in consultation with the editors of The Folger Shakespeare.
For some other insights into Julius Caesar, try our post on ‘Julius Caesar’ and Shakespeare’s change in the American curriculum, from rhetoric to literature or read this excerpt from Paterson Joseph’s Julius Caesar and Me: Exploring Shakespeare’s African Play.