Antony’s Funeral Oration

This is an interpretation I put together of Antony’s famous speech given at the pulpit in Julius Caesar—see speech key at the bottom, first before reading. I would love to hear any choices you might change that you feel work better or give it a sense of freshness as a different interpretation. I put this together so you could see my perspective on this speech but especially to hear what you guys think. Enjoy!

*FRIENDS ROMANS COUNTRYMEN* LEND! me your ears

i come to BURY caesar… NOT… to praise him…

(the evil that men do lives after after them…

the good is oft interred with their bones)

*so LET IT BE WITH CAESAR* the noble brutus

hath told you *CAESAR WAS AMBITIOUS*

(if it were so it was a grievous fault )

*and GRIEVOUSLY hath caesar 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 CAESAR’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 caesar seem AMBITIOUS?

when that the poor have CRIED…caesar 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! RE-FUSE* 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 JUDGEMENT (thou art fled to brutish BEASTS)

and men have LOST their reason…BEAR with me…

my HEART is in the COFFIN their with CAESAR…

and i must PAUSE…till it come…BACK…to me.

SPEECH KEY

( )= SPOKEN FASTER

* *= SPOKEN SLOWER

…= PAUSE

CAPITALS=LOUDER AND ACCENTUATED

! = WITH EVEN HEAVIER EMPHASIS

hyphenated words = each syllable especially distinct

Crafting A Shakespearean Speech

NOW…is…the WINTER of our *DIS-CON-TENT*!
MADE *GLORIOUS SUMMER*…by this…SUN…of 
YORK. And…ALL THE CLOUDS…(that lour’d upon our house)……in the DEEP…BUSOM……of the OCEAN………buried
 
     There are just so many possibilities in the choices you have for speaking Shakespeare. Where other authors may have three or four ways you can say something, Shakespeare literally has endless. Here I have layed out the beginning of the opening speech from King Richard III. Capitals are louder and accentuated. Underlining and strikethrough is a lowering or raising in tone respectively; ellipses are pauses. The more dots the longer the pause. Things in stars are too be relished and spoken slower. Hyphenated words are to be spoken with each syllable especially distinct. Things put in parentheses are meant to be spoken faster; Its so fun to play around with Shakespeare’s speeches, as it really is the nonpareil of the English language and full of so much rhetorical richness. I will be doing full speeches in the future to illustrate how I might recite Shakespeare’s timeless cogitations. I put this up to let you know how I would go about it. I will do my first complete one tomorrow and look forward to hearing from some of you readers, how  you might intepret them.
 

Prince Hal

“I know you all, and will awhile uphold the unyoked humor of your idleness, yet herein will I imitate the sun, who doth permit the base contagious clouds to smother up his beauty from the world; that when he please he again to be himself, being wanted he may be more wondered at.” Shakespeare is illustrating the idea that a great thing is more appreciated after it has been preceded by something ordinary and common. “Nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.” Prince Hal plans on abandoning his disorderly comrades, and he does just that, becoming the King that leads the English to victory in Agincourt. It’s more relishing to succeed when people have already written you off. He says that his “reformation will falsify men’s hopes.” As a Prince he was rowdy and engaged in petty criminality; engendering others’ spite of him. However after coronated, he becomes obsessedly concerned with righteousness, exacting no mercy on his former comrade Bardloph for a robbing from a church; thereby sentencing him to death. The King shows how his ethics have been metamorphosed from darkness to light. Henry shows genuine concern over whether he has the right to lay claim to the disputed territory in the Salique Land which he is given the nonpareil of linear (but not lacking in prolixity) explanation by one of the clergymen. When he is reassured the land in France is rightfully England’s, he never backs down. He is the English paragon of bravery as well as chivalry. We know from history (and the play) he negotiated a peace treaty by marrying the daughter of France, the country of his former sworn enemy. Unfortunately, after his spectacular victory at Agincourt, his Kingdom shortly crumbled at the hands of his son and successor; Henry the Sixth.

Macbeth and Macduff

“Any harm you do to a man should be done in such a way that you need not fear his revenge.”—Machiavelli

When Macbeth decides that Macduff “shalt not live” after he is told to “beware the Thane of Fife” by the apparitions, he finds out that he is fled to England. He then resolves that “from this moment, the very firstlings of his heart shall be the firstlings of his hand” or in other words, he is going to act henceforth based on initial instinct. He is absolves himself from the faculty of forethought; a dangerous acquittance. This immediately gets him into trouble as his next venture is to “seize upon Fife…his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line.” This action not only fails to get rid of the threat of Macduff, but makes it worse. Macbeth has now made it personal. When actions as momentous as murder are not weighed in the balance, its hard to expect a promising outcome, but who can think clearly with “scorpions in their mind.” He has once again “commended the ingredients of his posioned chalice to his own lips.” Macduff is now committed to killing Macbeth, not only for his country’s welfare, but for his own personal revenge. Macbeth spoke ironically when he said that he would make “assurance double sure,” as he made his own demise such, when he murdered Macduff’s family with Macduff remaining alive. As Robert Greene says, “A viper crushed beneath your foot but left alive, will rear up and bite you with a double dose of venom.”

More Thoughts on Macbeth

“Two truths are told as happy prologues to the swelling act of the imperial theme. This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill; cannot be good: —If ill why hath it given me earnest of success commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor: If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs against the use of nature? Present fears are less than horrible imaginings. My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man, that function is smothered in surmise, and nothing is but what is not.” Here Macbeth is lost in a cloud. He doesn’t know whether to be happy or horrified by the thought of taking Duncan’s place. He rationalizes that because he has been promised King, with “two truths told”—Thane of Glamis and Thane of Cawdor, that the prophesies are not associated with evil—“This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill.” But even the fact that these “women” tell truths, hence associating them with goodness, doesn’t prevent Macbeth’s mind from conceiving that the fulfillment of this “imperial theme” will entail murder—or conversely: evil. The virtuous quality of honesty and the vile crime of murder commingled makes Macbeth’s head spin, and he lets us know: “nothing is but what is not.” Anything whether good or bad engenders its opposite natural response. Becoming king conjures “horrible imaginings” instead of joyful anticipation and death becomes preferred to life as it is composed of “restless ecstasy.”

Macbeth’s line of “so foul and fair a day I have not seen” becomes a distant memory when his situation gets more foul and less fair with every passing moment.

Timon and Shylock

“His best companions, innocence and health; and his best riches innocence of wealth.”—Oliver Goldsmith. Wealth can bring about a multitude of problems. In Shakespeare’s two plays about money, both of its protagonists Timon and Shylock suffer great heartache through having ample sums of money. Timon is too generous and Shylock too insidious. Timon gives very generously, as he feels that if he should ever run out of money, all of those that he gave to would be there to help him; he finds this to be utterly false. People are quick to take but reluctant to reciprocate, especially when they feel like they won’t directly benefit. When the person that once gave them much has little, they feel like there is nothing in it for them as they see nothing to gain. But friendship shouldn’t be motivated by immediate personal gain. In the Merchant of Venice, Shylock creates corporal terms (a pound a flesh nearest the merchant’s heart) for the defaulting of his bond, as he can afford to not be repaid. He puts his hatred of Antonio and his Christianity to travail by demanding the heinous bond be fulfilled in order to “feed fat the ancient grudge he bears him.” But this could of never happened without having ample means at his disposal (he lends the high sum of three thousand ducats). This bond he devises ends up “hoisting him with his own petard,” as he violates Venetian law in the process and loses all his possessions. In both cases money engendered much malady. One because of generosity and the other because of the malevolent abuse abundance.

Coriolanus

Oftentimes it’s best to say as little as possible. Coriolanus is a man who happens to be brilliant in battle but whose scornful and excessive words and emotion towards his own people suppress his overall success. He feels great contempt for the commonalty and shows no sympathy to their unrest from war and famine. He says things that engender much hostility towards himself and he doesn’t seem to care. One speech he says to the citizens: “He that will give good words to thee will flatter beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, that like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you, the other makes you proud. He that trusts to you, where he should find you lions, finds you hares; where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no, than is the coal of fire upon the ice, or hailstone in the sun.” Harsh words from someone who is fighting to protect the country these citizens belong to. He would of been much better off keeping these thoughts to himself, as he is eventually banished by his own people, driven into exile and thenceforth assassinated. Author Robert Greene says, “Had Coriolanus said less, the people would never have had cause to be offended by him, would never have known his true feelings. He would have maintained his powerful aura, would certainly have been elected consul, and would have been able to pursue his antidemocratic goals.” Saying less is extremely valuable and a great habit to acquire.

Iago’s Tactics

Iago is someone who doesn’t have much power inherently, but knows how to use Machiavellian tactics with a second nature; the epitome of Shakespeare’s villains. The device he uses to deceive Othello into jealousy is quite ingenious. He observes that his wife is quite friendly with Cassio, the one that got the promotion he wanted; he then gets him dispossessed of that promotion, by getting him drunk, knowing his weakness of alcohol to turn him violent. Cassio inebriated, then attacks a noblemen and as a punishment loses his title. Iago then has Cassio petition Desdemona to importune Othello for Cassio’s reinstatement. Desdemona then zealously pleads for Cassio, as she is his good friend, which adds to Othello’s belief of Desdemona’s infidelity. Desdemona indirectly damns herself by trying to help her friend—all aspects of which was orchestrated by someone that was always cordial and pleasant towards her [Iago]. This malevolent influence of Iago over others all stems from getting other people to be his pawns and do his dirty work through his own machinations. Law seven from Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power” is to Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit and Iago basks inwardly at his own pleasure for his success in evil. “And by how much she strives to do him [Cassio] good she shall undo her credit with the Moor—So will I turn her virtue into pitch and out of her own goodness make the net that shall enmesh them all.”

Othello and Iago’s Manipulation

“The way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses.” (Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”) Iago makes this observation about his superior Othello,”He hath a person and a smooth dispose to be suspected—framed to make women false. The moor is of a free and open nature, that thinks men honest that but seem to be so, and will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are.” I conclude binarily 1.) That Othello has a mindset framed at accusing women of being unfaithful; and 2.) that he takes mens’ honesty for granted. Now the most striking thing is that Desdemona is as true and loyal as a heart pure, and Iago is as treacherous as they come, but because Iago preys to Othello’s simple-minded perspective, he’s able to manipulate him for his own gain. The first thing in Iago’s equation for treachery is familiarizing himself with the weaknesses of Othello, and he carries out his machinations with a nefarious dexterity all his own. When interacting with Othello in Act 3 Scene 3, Iago acts superlatively reluctant to tell Othello his maliciously construed fabrications about how Cassio is in love with Desdemona; when in reality he would love to have him listen to his lies, but here again Iago is playing to Othello’s weakness of “thinking men honest that but seem to be so.” A good liar usually tells their lie with some sense of confidence and fortitude, but a great liar incorporates other characteristics into to their fabrication, such as reluctance: “Good my lord, pardon me; though I am bound to every act of duty, I am not bound to that [which] all slaves are free to—utter my thoughts? Why, say they are vile and false? As where’s that palace whereinto foul things sometimes intrude not? Who has a breast so pure but some uncleanly apprehensions keep leets [a high court] and law-days in session sit with meditations lawful?” This confident reluctance in Iago’s words and delivery, appear to translate into true honesty to Othello, yet Iago knows the Moor to have an infirmity distinguishing between seeming honesty and true honesty, and he uses this infirmity of Othello’s to cruel proportions; about as cruel as anywhere in the Shakespeare Canon; the suffocation of an innocent and pure and loving wife; the gentle Desdemona.

Some Thoughts on Hamlet

“Folly consists not in committing Folly, but in being incapable of concealing it. All men make mistakes, but the wise conceal the blunders they have made, while fools make them public.” (Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power) It’s safe to say the conspicuous murder of Polonius was a blunder. It caused Ophelia’s madness and subsequent suicide and Laertes’ treacherous revenge against Hamlet. Hamlet says, “tis the sport to have the enginer hoist with his own petard.” To put it plainly: to be blown up with your own bomb. Hamlet is his own worst enemy in this play deciding that putting on an “antic disposition” is the best way to go; a hard device to manage. The whole purpose of his antic disposition was to cover up the fact that he had the foreknowledge of his uncle’s murder, which he voluntarily tells both the King through his play-within-a-play and his mother quite harshly in the closet scene. But Hamlet has an interesting philosophy; he says, “our indiscretion sometime serves us well, when our deep plots do pall, and that should learn us, there’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.” Our mistakes sometime turn out for the better when we get sidetracked from our goals. The ghost didn’t tell Hamlet to put on a play to confirm Claudius’ guilt, and it did create problems; such as causing the confrontation with his mother in the closet scene as she chides him that he has his “father [Claudius not father Hamlet] much offended”; which in turn leads to Polonius death and Laertes treachery, but this play is about revenge, and it gives him joy in knowing for a fact that his uncle is in fact guilty and that killing Claudius is in fact accomplishing the revenge his father behested. No one wants to be a victim of a duplicitous ghost that’s just out to get you. He wants reassurance to the spirits legitimacy, and in the end I think Hamlet finds that peace.