Sat 28 Aug, 2004 10:05 am
I'm having a bit of trouble here.
There is a beginning of a quote I'm looking for, and I have no idea who wrote it.
All I have is "Cry Havoc! And slip the dogs of war".
Any idea, anyone?
Act Three, scene one, Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare. It is an anachronism, and anachronisms are very common in Shakespear, especially in this play. Havoc derives from Old French, and probably derives from a now lost Germanic word (perhaps Walter will show up with the best derivation). It means to plunder, and entered English through Anglo-Norman, crier havoc, meaning to cry (shout) plunder. To cry havoc is to release one's troops to plunder the enemy camp or town.
Panzade shakes his head in amazement
Here's the full speech. Julius Caesar enters the Senate despite the soothsayers warning, and is assassinated by a band of conspirators lead by Brutus. Among them is Marc Antony, but he flees the Senate before the murder is done. He returns, and finally, when alone with the body of Caesar, apostrophizes the corpse:
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.
Bascially, Marc Antony uses the phrase in calling for revenge against the assassins.
Shakespeare wrote that play about 1608. The evidence of Shakespeare's continuing profound influence on the intellectual life of English speakers is everywhere about us. Dogs of War by Pink Floyd uses this citation whether the lyricist knew or not, as "dogs of war" as a synonym for mercenary soldiers derives from this quotation. Similarly, William Falukner's The Sound and the Fury quotes William Shakespeare. Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for literature (1948? 1949?) for the body of his work, as do all prize winners, but The Sound and Fury was the clincher. The story concerns a moron (in the legal sense, an adult with the mind of six-year-old), and his brother and sister. Faulkner's use of the title is revealing: in MacBeth, Act V, scene 5, MacBeth prepares to face his own destruction, a consequence of his murder of the King. An aide comes in to tell him that "the Queen" (Lady MacBeth) is dead, and MacBeth gives vent to his despair:
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
In using the title, Faulkner tells us that "it is a tale told by an idiot (his character, Benjy Compson), full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Ol' Bill Snakeshit gave us a whole heap of intellectual fat to chew on.
So do you boss, so do you.
I'm just playin', Boss, just playin' . . .
Wow...Thanks...That's a lot of info, all interesting to read. Can someone tip me about a book or a website(other then this) where one can find more on English litterature and William Shakespear?
Canoy, a little web searching should yield the complete text of all of Shakespeare's plays. They are, after all, in the public domain. I'd suggest that you search for "Shakespeare+biography" to get a list of plays, and then type in the name of any play with the word text, as in "As You Like It+text." With those search parameters, you should be able to find the complete text of any of these plays. When i wanted to get the Julius Ceasar text for you, i went to google and typed "Julius Caesar+Shakespeare+text." From there, it was simple, i picked a link with the entire text, and went to act III, scene one.
This is only based on my high-school Latin and English lit. classes, so I will claim no _real_ expertise.
Although, in all fairness, as Shakespeare's historical plays were written in English, even if the tongue of the time and locale wasn't. I do, however, agree with you that the wording was an anachronism.
I would also argue that while your interpretation is very close, that "Havoc" is something more of a battle cry, and the quote could be moved to a more modern wording as such: Yell your battle cry, and send the troops to war.
In times of war, there have always been restraints on the actions of warriors after or during a battle. In the event the battle is won, a leader does not want to administer to a town full of angry people. Therefore, warriors were not allowed to plunder. However, when a battle was too hard won ( high casualties) or fought as a punishment for the people of a region and not as a regional annexation for tax base, then a leader would sometimes release his men to do as they wanted..
`havoc' ment that all restraints on the actions of warriors were removed and they could plunder, rape, pilliage as they wanted without fear of sincture or reprisal for any act(s) performed. It was the ultimate punishment for a recalcitrant foe.
...would that it were only for 'recalcitrant foes' and pretty to think so. the ugly truth is that in wars nowadays, rape, plunder, murder and mayhem is de rigueur in EVERY war...ours in Iraq and Afghanistan being no exceptions. "let slip the dogs of war implies looking the other way ..of abdicating control or at least pretending ignorance and no tacit approval to any atrocities committed during/after a battle.
Don't forget that Frederick Forsyth wrote a very decent novel, "The Dogs of War" about a group of mercenaries fighting to install a puppet regime in a war of plunder and profit.
No, not Iraq. This one was published nearly 40 years ago.