Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

Mark Antony Speaks to the Citizens

The people were still shouting 'Live Brutus!' when Mark Antony entered the Forum with the dead body of Cæsar.

Brutus at once prepared to go, bidding the citizens listen to what Mark Antony had to say.

The body of Cæsar, covered with a purple cloth, had now been placed where all might see.

Close to Antony lay the toga which his friend had worn as he went to the Senate-house on the Ides of March. It was torn and stained, where the daggers had done their deadly work. It too could be seen by the crowds.

A wax figure of Cæsar, with each wound which he had received, plainly marked, was placed near the dead body.

Antony, clad in robes of mourning, then began to read Cæsar's will aloud. The people listened spellbound. Was it true that Cæsar had cared for them so much?

What did Antony say? That to each Roman citizen Cæsar had left a sum of three pounds!

His garden too, his beautiful garden! It also was left to them and to their children, to walk in when it pleased them, to be there at all times a retreat from the heat and the dust of the streets.

To some of those who had slain him too, Cæsar had willed large sums of money. Already the people were muttering in a way to fulfil the forebodings of Cassius. It had certainly been unwise to leave the people alone with Mark Antony.

They had forgotten that they had applauded Brutus but a few moments before. Now they were declaring that the conspirators had killed, not a tyrant, but a friend of the people, one who had ever served his country well. The conspirators deserved to be punished for their cruel deed, and they would see to it that——

But hush! Antony was speaking, was trying to make himself heard. They must certainly listen to what he had to say. And here are his words, as Shakespeare tells them to us:—

"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 interrèd with their bones;

So let it be with Cæsar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Cæsar was ambitious:

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Cæsar answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest—

For Brutus is an honourable man;

So are they all, all honourable 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 honourable 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 have cried, Cæsar hath wept:

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

And Brutus is an honourable 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 honourable 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."

As Antony finished speaking, he turned to pull away the cloth that covered Cæsar's body, so that the people could see his wounds.

Already as they listened to Antony's words and looked at the wax figure of Cæsar, with its painted wounds, the fierce anger of the people had been roused. But now, when they saw the real wounds in Cæsar's own body, their passion knew no bounds.

They shouted that they would be revenged on the murderers of Cæsar, that not one of the conspirators should live, that they would burn the houses of Brutus and Cassius.

But first they would themselves make Cæsar's funeral pyre. So they rushed into the houses and shops in the Forum, and pulled out chairs, tables, benches, anything on which they could lay their hands.

Then they placed these together in a great heap, and when all was ready, they laid the body of Cæsar reverently on the top. A moment more and they had set fire to the funeral pyre with torches.

As the fire blazed, the citizens armed themselves with faggots which they lighted at the flames. Then they hurried away to the houses of Brutus and Cassius, shouting and waving their fiery brands in a frenzy of rage.

But the houses they found guarded, the conspirators fled.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus