What Does Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears Mean?

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears Meaning

Definition: Everyone, listen to me.

This is a famous quote, and people often invoke it at the beginning of a speech.

Origin of Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears

This expression comes from the English playwright, William Shakespeare. It appears in his play Julius Caesar, from the year 1599.

It is famous because of its effectiveness as a rhetorical device. In the play, a character wants to speak passionately to convince a crowd to agree with his point of view.

Examples of Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears

friends romans countrymen lend me your ears speechThis example shows two women discussing a speech that one of them is supposed to give.

Bella: I’m not sure how to start my speech.

Hannah: You’re giving a speech? For whom is the speech?

Bella: It’s for a fancy dinner the company is throwing for possible investors, so it has to be really good.

Hannah: Why don’t you start by saying “friends, Romans, countrymen?”

Bella: Hmmm. That is a classic, but I don’t think it would fit well here. Most of the investors are foreigners from South America.

Hannah: Ah. Well, you could adapt it to fit your audience. Maybe you could say, “Friends, colleagues, business people, lend me your ears.

Bella: Maybe. We’ll see what I can come up with.

friends romans countrymen lend me your earsThe following example shows two college students who are discussing an assignment.

Hanh: I am supposed to find five of the most famous speeches and analyze them in an essay. I guess I could use the one from Abraham Lincoln.

Zhongyi: You should also use the one from Julius Caesar. Do you know the one about friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears?

Hanh: Yeah, I’ve heard of it. I’m not sure I can use that one though, since it’s from a play and not real life.

Zhongyi: Why not? It’s still wildly famous.

Hanh: That’s true. I’ll ask the teacher if I can use it.

More Examples

The excerpt is from a review of a play.

Then come the speeches designed to further sway the will of the people, with Brutus making his case for the murder being in defense of Rome, and that golden boy, Mark Antony (with Kelly restrained but eloquent in his long oration that begins with “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”), ultimately turning public opinion against the assassins by reminding them of all Caesar did for them, including leaving a distribution of money to each citizen in his will. –Chicago Sun Times

The second example is about Roman numerals and football.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: The NFL has gone too far this time.

That’s right, the grand poo-bahs of the National Football League are destroying a sacred tradition: They are dropping the Roman numeral designation from Super Bowl 50, which should be Super Bowl L but won’t be. –LA Times

Summary

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears is a famous line from a speech in the play Julius Caesar. The character is inviting those around him to listen to him. His whole speech is filled with rhetorical devices that encourage the listeners to be on his side.