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Write on, Shakespeare.

In my last blog post I made a reference to the phrase, “right on” as having appeared in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I’ve received dozens of inquires from interested readers who want to know who spoke this phrase, so here it is:


In Act III, scene 2 of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony says:

I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men’s blood; I only speak right on;


I don’t know exactly how Marc Antony arrived in the middle of the turbulent and flower strewn sixties so if anyone has any info about this please let us know!

August 18th, 2009 | Permalink | Trackback | Bookmark and Share

3 Responses to Write on, Shakespeare.

  1. Jason Peck

    From my reading of this extract, and checking the full speech in the first folio edition of Julius Caesar (which you can search for online), Marc Antony is saying that he is not a great orator like Brutus, but he is blunt and direct.

    He claims that he doesn’t have the same rhetorical skills “to stir men’s blood” and get his listeners empassioned. He can only speak “right on”, or to the point.

    Antony humbles himself as if to say that Brutus used trickery in his speech to deceive the crowd.

    However, Antony clearly demonstrates the art of rhetoric in his earlier “friends, romans, countrymen” speech as he manages to turn the mob against Casesar’s conspirators during the remainder of the scene.

    Huh, I knew my actor training would come in handy one day…

    Just my two pence worth.


  2. Angela DeFinis

    Jason, for your two pence I say, right on. It’s striking me that this interpretation is in some ways perfect for the Woodstock version of the phrase. The sixties counter culture shunned traditional cultural norms including formal language so maybe deep in the unconscious of the first “right on” users, Marc Anthony was somewhat of an iconic anti-hero and representative of this generation. The counter culture might not have valued polished rhetorical skills that included “trickery” but would have loved speech that was blunt, direct and to the point.

    Thanks. Your actor training has served us all!

  3. Petronila Gist

    Have you in your life attended a wedding event and have felt bad for the groom because he harvested the most significant boneheaded buddy to be the best man. It happened to me, we travelled a very chic wedding and the Best Man’s speech was so terrible that it was scary that this person was the groom’s best friend. After they uncovered the best man, he got up to the microphone and presented this speech: “This couple, Bill and Monica are great and I hope their life is filled with fulfillment and all those things that make a marriage great.” This is what you get when you don’t prepare a speech. When I got married couple of years later I didn’t want my best man to be the subject of discussion for a long time so I sent him this package on how to write a best man speech. It relieved the worry and his speech was superb, relaxed and poignant.

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