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 Atë 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.
— Mark Antony, Act 3 Scene 1
Brutus's, and then Anthony's, speeches to the crowd after Caesar's assassination are two of the best in all Shakespeare. Brutus's is a defence of the Roman Republic, and of his actions as necessary to prevent the transformation of that Republic into an Empire - which makes it all the more tragic that his actions actually contribute to that transformation.
- Ah, the first time we see Mark Antony alone on stage after the assassination. The moment the mask falls away, and we see the dark thoughts and emotions boiling beneath the surface as he spoke to the conspirators before, concealed even by his previous shows of grief, now clearly meticulously planned while his servant spoke to them. These same emotions are with him still up until Brutus's own death. Such hateful, spiteful, ruthless, vindictive, and brutal words, and such symbolism in them. Especially the line "and let slip the dogs of war." This is a reference, first to the Rome practice of bringing teams of dogs to the battlefield trained to kill, but also of religious symbology in both the Roman Classical Mythology and the Christianity of Shakespeare's own time. Thus these dogs are Hellhounds belonging to alternatively Mars or War, the second rider of the Apocalypse on the Red Horse with a sword. It really gives the question of Who Let The Dogs Out? a whole new meaning. So was it Shakespeare, Mark Antony, Caesar's ghost, or Atë? I lean towards Mark Antony myself.
Brutus: Hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge.
If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his.
If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.
Had you rather Caesar was living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?
As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.
There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for him ambition.
Who here is so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who here is so rude that he would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
- Anthony's speech to the crowd - "Friends! Romans! Countrymen!" - then turns them from the conspirators' side to his own without breaking Brutus' rule about criticizing the conspirators. You can just feel the sarcasm leaping off the page, getting more and more venomous as he repeats "Brutus is an honorable man" until you're almost ready to join up with the mob and avenge Caesar.