The first image that comes to mind when I think of this play is Marlon Brando’s version of Marc Antony, when he delivers that wonderful speech which is now ingrained in my memory: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him….” When I first saw this version of the play, I was completely enthralled by the passion in this speech, and like the citizens in the crowd, I was ready to join forces with them against Brutus and the other conspirators! ;)
I think Shakespeare gets better with age and with multiple readings. You can always find something new embedded in those lines. This time around I noticed more of those little subtle humorous details and bawdy remarks, which as a young reader are easily missed. Also, considering some modern portrayals of Ancient Rome, for instance I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54, this play certainly does have that Roman feel to it, though it’s more subtle than explicit.
I do like how this play ends… paying homage and respect to Brutus instead of offering further disgrace and belittlement to his memory. This final speech of Marc Antony’s takes that initial speech of his with its ironic, even sarcastic connotation that “Brutus is an honorable man” and inverts it back to the phrase’s original denoted significance: an honorable man, steadfast in his beliefs—acting in the best interests of Rome.