In Act 3, Scene 2, Mark Antony addresses the assembled crowd after Brutus. In a loaded speech rife with verbal irony, he delivers his famous eulogy for Caesar:
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him….
….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.
Antony defends Caesar while repeating some of Brutus's remarks and insisting that Brutus is an honorable man. As he begins to work the crowd to his favor by remembering Caesar's loyalty and virtue, he continues to declare Brutus's honor—with each subsequent declaration sounding more and more sarcastic. Antony is in the full height of his rhetorical power, and shows a mock deference to Brutus’s condemnation of Caesar in order to convey his profound admiration for the felled statesman.
Having been privy to Antony’s soliloquy after the death of Caesar, the audience is able to appreciate the intention behind his words. By saying one thing and meaning another, Antony can share how he feels without risking rebuke—or worse—from Brutus or the other conspirators. In this way, Shakespeare establishes a parallel between Antony's use of language and his own: like Antony's speech, Shakespeare crafts Julius Caesar to be a veiled critique of power—in this case, that of Elizabethan England. Rather than openly air his grievances, however, Shakespeare has disguised them with layer after layer of literary device and re-packaged them within a historical tragedy.