© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 
Shakespeare Quotes: Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war

Shakespeare Quotes: Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war

Intro

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war

I'm Antony. I'm a bit of a brownnoser when it comes to dealing with Caesar, but I stand up for what I think is right when it counts. I'm good with words and I'm really convincing when I talk. And you know what I think?

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,--
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue--
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial. (3.1.254-275)

Who Said It and Where

After stabbing Caesar in the back (and the guts, arms, legs, and chest), Cassius and Brutus reason that they've done their pal a favor. See, now that Caesar's dead, he no longer has to worry about dying. Sure, that makes sense.

Then Brutus has another good idea: the conspirators should wash their hands in their friend's blood to signal that they've freed Rome from tyranny. Um, ew? The men are all standing around in a bloodbath—literally—when Antony's servant enters, causing the marching band of merry, bloody men to take pause. Antony has sent word with his servant to say Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest, and, further.

But wait, there's more. While Antony loves Brutus and honors him, Antony also feared, loved, and honored Caesar, whom Brutus (brutally) killed. So, Antony pledges to love Brutus if he can get some assurance that it's safe to come around for a visit sometime and hear the story of why Brutus thought it was okay to ice their leader. Regardless, he'll be faithful to Brutus from now on.

Brutus tells Antony's servant that his master will be safe if he comes to the Capitol. He sure is glad they can all be friends again. Cassius, however, is still suspicious of Antony, and as the resident expert in treachery, he's usually right about spotting it in others.

Antony shows up and makes a great show over Caesar's body, weeping and wailing. He worries aloud about who else will be killed over some secret grudge the conspirators might hold. Brutus promises Antony he will only met with love. Brutus promises to soon explain the reason they've killed Caesar. Right now, though, they've got to go out and quiet the public, which is a bit frightened of the men who stopped for a quick dip in Caesar's blood.

Antony says he was committed to the conspirators, but then he notices Caesar's corpse again (still lying on the ground at their feet), and the plan to be down with the murderers suddenly looks a little less savory. Still, Antony will remain their friend if they can provide some reason to believe Caesar was dangerous. Brutus promises they can and must.

Antony's only other little request is that he be allowed to take the body to the marketplace and to speak at Caesar's funeral. Cassius warns Brutus to bar Antony from speaking at Caesar's funeral, as he's likely to say things that will incite the people against the conspirators. And he can't have that, now can he?

But Antony promises he won't, so Brutus and gang leave. Antony's left alone to give a little soliloquy, in which he reveals that he fully intends to incite the crowd to bloody murder against the conspirators. In fact, there'll be so much blood and destruction that Caesar might show up from hell with the goddess of discord at his side, and mothers will smile to see their infants torn limb from limb. Ew.

Well, at least the man has a plan.

Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top