Friends, Romans, Countrymen....

…lend me your ears.

This is a famous line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser, delivered by Mark Antony. What’s the distinction between Romans and countrymen?

It’s a pretty mundane question, I know, but just wondering…

As I recall from long-ago reading about ancient Rome, being a Citizen of Rome carried a great distinction all over the world then. You got captured, you told them that and you got preferential treatment.

The rest of them Eyetalians were not Romans, so suppose they were countrymen. They could come to Rome and vote, shop, etc, but they were looked down upon as rustics. Except when politicians were soliciting their votes. :smiley:

Friends - we’re all friends here.

Romans - Don’t forget that you are the greatest people in the world.

Countrymen - Don’t forget that I’m a Roman, too.

In short, MA wasn’t talking about them, he was talking about himself.

Kind of like Americans these days. :stuck_out_tongue:

He was applying all three labels to all the people he was addressing.

Yeah, it was a rhetorical trick. Remember, he was trying to get the attention of a restless crowd. By repeating himself, but with a different term each time, he pulled them in.

All true. But remember, there were a few “tribes” of Italians that had not yet gained full Citizenship too. As KlondikeGeoff mentioned, outside the Urb itself, being a full Citizen of Rome was rather a big deal.

Intricacies of Roman citizenship were probably not things Shakespeare bothered with. He got his information about Caesar and his colleagues from histories that were easily obtainable to him at the time, Plutarch Life of Brutus and Life of Caesar.

Right, the crowd is awed by Brutus’ speech and not interested in him, so in many productions, he gets louder with each word.

It’s also a theatrical trick. Shakespeare contains many triple reptetitions; in the days before microphones, it allowed the actors to address multiple parts of the audience.

I don’t think it’s necessary to get too analytical about the meaning. It wasn’t really Marc Anthony talking, it was Shakespear who also had Brutus say, “Romans, countrymen, lovers …”

When listing things in a speech do it in threes. Two gives a feeling of incompleteness and four is more than you should expect the audience to remember. I think Shakespear just needed three things to begin these speeches and selected these.

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea

What’s the distinction between these terms?

He’s just using several different terms that mean the same thing for poetic effect.

Frasier Crane: So you’re saying I’m redundant, that I repeat myself, that I say the same thing over and over…

Why did you not double post this? :confused: