Critics since the early twentieth century have noted the simplicity of vocabulary in Julius Caesar, praising the 'element of simple dignity' and its 'limited perfection... an impression of easy mastery and complete harmony'. Another critic noted that the play stands out among Shakespeare's oeuvre with its 'unelaborated style' and '"Roman" air'. Only a year prior to writing the play Shakespeare was composing controlled yet exuberant prose for characters such as Falstaff (see 1 Henry IV for example). Brutus' dialogue demonstrates the restraint and containment typical of the classical mind. Though his emotions may be potent, Brutus' expression is constantly tempered by intelligence, order and clarity:'O conspiracy,
Shams't thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
When evils are most free? O then by day
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy:
Hide it in smiles and affability... '
The dialogues of the first two acts are notably long-paced in construction. The subject of the dialogue is indeed of great political importance. As in Troilus and Cressida the chief players of Julius Caesar know themselves to be important figures from ancient Roman history. The language Shakespeare deploys throughout the play manages to capture Rome and its citizens. The patricians speak as Stoics, and their rhetoric is highly polished yet concise. The mob are invested with colloquial dialogue, its simplicity and fickle logic strongly contrast with that of the public figures. Flavius and Murellus become inflamed in the first scene of the first act in a confrontation with the plebs.
In the play two kinds of spaces are evident - public and private. They are set in opposition to each other. The most public of spaces in the play is the market place; it is there that the most public speeches, those of Brutus and Antony for Caesar's funeral, are made as they address the Plebians of Rome. Superficially Act III Scene 2 appears static. It is the longest of the play, Brutus and Antony orate from a pulpit, speak to the crowd, then stand down. That stasis is illusionary is realized when one thinks of the movement of spirit and emotion in the Roman people that the scene conveys. The debate between Brutus and Antony is a set-piece rhetorical exercise Brutus established in Act III Scene 1 when against the advice of his co-conspirators he allows Antony to speak at the funeral.'You shall not in your funeral speech blame us,
But speak all good you can devise of Caesar,
And say you do't by our permission;
Else you shall not have any hand at all
About this funeral. And you shall speak
In the same pulpit whereto I am going,
After my speech is ended.'
With this proviso Shakespeare sets up a dramatic rhetorical challenge: can Mark Antony sway the crowd after Brutus' speech will have already captured their attentions? The reason the conspirators wanted Brutus on their side was the 'opinion... which every noble Roman bears of [him]' (II.1.92-3); his reputation warrants the crowd listen, even though they will be won over by Mark Antony´s address.
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