I would cry havoc
And let loose the dogs of war,
But there’d be trouble…
YouTube video: “Pink Floyd – Dogs of War (Live 1987)“
This quote, “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let loose the dogs of war” is often removed from its context. The quote is from “Julius Caesar”, Act III, scene i.
After the assassination of Caesar in the Senate, Anthony enters and confronts the conspirators. He pretends to understand and forgive them (to save his own life and allow him to avenge his friend and mentor in the future). When Anthony is left alone in the Senate with the murdered body of Caesar he breaks down with grief and rage and asks forgiveness from the bleeding body, vowing vengeance against the conspirators:
“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.”