The final selection of great speeches are declarations of war. Mark Antony used Caesar’s public funeral to turn the Roman mob on his assassins. Later, Cicero denounced Antony in a high stakes ploy designed to separate Caesar’s chief lieutenant from Caesar’s heir, Octavian. Eventually, Antony eliminated Cicero, aligned himself with Cleopatra, and went to war with Octavian. The younger Caesar skillfully portrayed the war on Antony was actually a war on Egypt. Decades later, Octavian’s empire occupied Judea. The highly charged atmosphere produced Jesus of Nazareth. In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus outlined his own war on Jewish leadership by defining the central tenants of his movement. Over 1,000 years later, Jesus’ followers launched a Crusade to confront the expansionist Muslim heretics. In 1095, Pope Urban II declared a holy war against the Muslims threatening Europe. Each one of these addresses was designed to inspire and influence its audience. In the end, all five succeeded beyond all expectations.
Mark Antony’s Funeral Oration (March 20, 44 B.C.)
A group of Roman senators feared Julius Caesar’s rise to power. They assassinated Caesar at a senate meeting. However, the conspirators miscalculated the mood of the city and found themselves isolated. As a result, the cabal agreed to a compromise with Caesar’s chief deputy, Mark Antony. One of the assassins, Brutus, agreed to a public funeral where he would deliver an oration. Antony also delivered a eulogy which turned the city into an angry mob out for vengeance against Brutus and the conspirators. The key moment occurred when Antony presented Caesar’s blood stained toga to the crowd. The mourners rage turned riotous and drove the conspirators to Greece. Eventually, Antony and Octavian defeated the republicans thereby killing the Roman Republic.
Cicero’s Philippics (44-43 B.C)
Caesar’s assassination shocked an unaware Cicero. Rome’s leading citizen and politician did not shed any tears for the deceased. Additionally, he believed the conspirators committed an error allowing Mark Antony to live. Cicero despised Antony and searched for an opening to rid Rome of Caesar’s deputy. When Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian, arrived in Italy, Cicero hoped to play the two off one another. If all went according to plan, Cicero would discredit Antony and be able to control the 19-year-old Octavian. Cicero and Octavian established a rapport and alliance against Antony. On September 2, 44 B.C., Cicero launched the first of 14 Philippics, or attack speeches, against Antony. In the end, Cicero’s efforts failed. Octavian and Antony reconciled in order to attack Brutus and Caesar’s assassins. Antony had Cicero assassinated against Octavian’s objections.
Octavian declares war on Antony and Cleopatra (32 B.C.)
As Cicero’s fate demonstrated, Octavian and Antony agreed on very little. The pair defeated Brutus and established their control of the Roman Empire. Antony moved to Egypt where he entered into a political relationship with Cleopatra. Antony’s popularity in Rome insulated him from Octavian’s propaganda. Eventually, he made a monumental error. He divorced Octavian’s sister to marry Cleopatra. On top of this, Antony ceded Roman territory to Cleopatra. Octavian declared war on Egypt and the sorceress Cleopatra. The war ended with Cleopatra and Antony’s deaths in 30 B.C. Octavian went on the birth the Roman Empire.
The Sermon on the Mount
Octavian’s empire conquered Judea. Octavian changed his name to Augustus and died in 14 B.C. Less than 20 years after his death, Jesus of Nazareth emerged. Jesus’ ministry attracted many outsiders. His message of equality, love, and justice appealed to the oppressed. Oppression came from both the Romans and the Jewish Temple. The Temple leadership enjoyed a cozy relationship with Roman authorities and excluded many Jews. It seemed the Temple was more Roman than Jewish. Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount to outline his own doctrine. He describes the Kingdom of Heaven, Works of Mercy, the value of normal people, and his own interpretation of the Old Testament. The oration evolved into the central tenant of Christianity.
Pope Urban II calls for Crusade (1095)
Jesus’ followers created the Christian Church after the Crucifixion. The church survived the Roman Empire to become the dominant entity of the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, Islamic armies conquered the Middle East and threatened Europe. At the same time, bored knights rampaged the European countryside. In 1095, Pope Urban II responded to requests for aid from Constantinople. He declared for a Crusade against the Muslims in the Holy Land. The First Crusade was a resounding success, but subsequent efforts suffered from lack of support. Crusades continued until the 15th century.