"Brutus is an honorable man" is not a defamatory statement on its face. That, I believe, would satisfy U.S. law.
But the quote was from Shakespeare. And the context was an ironic way of implying that Brutus is not an honorable man.
English libel law is more favorable to plaintiffs than is U.S. law. So has anyone gotten into trouble in the U.K. for making a sarcastic comment that implied the opposite of what was nominally being said?
Here's how it might play out in practice:
"Jane Doe goes out to bars most nights. She is a chaste, virtuous woman.
Jane Doe is seen with a different man most nights. She is a chaste, virtuous woman.
Jane Doe hangs out with the "Wild Girls." They are chaste, virtuous women. So are they all."
Would a defendant have to prove that the underlying assertions were true to have a solid defense? Or is the statement, "she is a chaste, virtuous woman" be sufficiently non-libelous by itself?