William Shakespeare

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The evil that men do ...

The lines at the end of the song Appeasement are taken from the most famous speech from the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears is the first line of this famous and often-quoted speech by Mark Antony in the play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare. It is taken from Act III, scene II.

About the speech


At this point in the play, the conspirators have murdered Julius Caesar. Against Cassius's advice, Brutus has given Antony permission to give Caesar's funeral oration provided only good things are said of the conspirators. Before Antony's speech, Brutus gives a speech to the plebeians explaining how he slew his friend Caesar for the good of Rome.

Brutus' speech, though an example of Brutus' oratorial skill, is cold and aloof, while Antony's is personal, emotional, and appeals to the people, whose hearts he manages to sway through this speech and others throughout the rest of the scene.

As Antony's speech begins the plebs are completely on the conspirators' side. Antony follows Brutus' instructions to the letter, but through a subtle shift of emphasis, most notably a continuing repetition of the word "honorable", he manipulates the crowd, provoking their rage against the assassins and their grief for the lost Caesar. In so doing, he turns the tide of public opinion against Brutus, Cassius, and their confederates, and thus paves the way for the conspirators' defeat at the close of the play.

The speech

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears:
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives 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 had 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 refuse: 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 judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason! Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.