Veni, vidi, vici

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The phrase appears in a variety of cultural contexts, such as this Philip Morris logo, from a pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

Veni, vidi, vici (Classical Latin: [ˈweː.niː ˈwiː.diː ˈwiː.kiː]; Ecclesiastical Latin: [ˈvɛni ˈvidi ˈvitʃi]; "I came; I saw; I conquered") is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar who, according to Appian,[1] used the phrase in a letter to the Roman Senate around 47 BC after he had achieved a quick victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela.[2] The phrase is used to refer to a swift, conclusive victory.

The phrase is attributed in Plutarch's Life of Caesar and Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Julius. Plutarch writes that Caesar used it in a report to Amantius, a friend of his at Rome.[3] Suetonius states that Caesar displayed the three words as an inscription during his Pontic triumph.[4]

Allusions and references

Variations of the sentence Veni, vidi, vici are often quoted, and also used in music, art, literature, and entertainment.

Since the time of Caesar, the phrase has been used in military contexts. King Jan III of Poland alluded to it after the 17th-century Battle of Vienna, saying Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit ("We came, We saw, God conquered").[5] In 2011 the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to the death of Muammar Gaddafi with a similar phrase, saying that "We came, we saw, he died".[6]

The sentence has also been used in music, including several well-known works over the years. The opening of Handel's 1724 opera Giulio Cesare contains the line: Curio, Cesare venne, e vide e vinse ("Curius, Caesar came, saw and conquered"). The title song in the musical Mame contains the line: "You came, you saw, you conquered". Barbra Streisand uses the phrase for comical purposes at the end of the song "When In Rome (I Do as The Romans Do)" (on her Columbia Records 1964 album entitled "People") by saying "Veni, Vidi...Vincy?!" with a Brooklyn accent (emphasizing her New York roots)

More recently: the rapper Jay-Z directly uses the English translation in his song "Encore"; Swedish band, The Hives, reference the phrase in the title of their album Veni Vidi Vicious. The rapper Pitbull includes in his song "Fireball" the lyrics I saw, I came, I conquered Or should I say, I saw I conquered, I came.

The phrase has also been heavily referenced in literature and film. The title of French poet Victor Hugo's Veni, vidi, vixi ("I came, I saw, I lived"), written after the death of his daughter Leopoldine at age 19 in 1843, uses the allusion with its first verse: J'ai bien assez vécu...("I have lived quite long enough..."). Peter Venkman, one of the protagonists in the 1984 film Ghostbusters, delivers a humorous variation: "We came. We saw. We kicked its ass!" This line was among the 400 nominees for the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.[7]

Latin grammar

Veni, vidi, and vici are first person singular perfect indicative active forms of the Latin verbs venire, videre, and vincere, which mean "to come", "to see", and "to conquer", respectively. The sentence's form is classed as a tricolon and a hendiatris.

English grammar

The English phrase "I came, I saw, I conquered" employs what is known as a comma splice. Grammarians generally agree that using a comma to join two independent clauses should be done sparingly.[8] Sometimes, the comma splice is avoided by using a semicolon instead: "I came; I saw; I conquered".[9]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ando, Clifford (2000). Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 389. ISBN 9780520923720. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  2. ^ "HISTORY OF JULIUS CAESAR". historyworld.net.
  3. ^ Plutarch, Life of Caesar from penelope.uchicago.edu
  4. ^ Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Julius from penelope.uchicago.edu
  5. ^ Lettere memorabili, istoriche, politiche, ed erudite raccolte da Antonio Bulifon (Pozzuoli, 1698), vol. 1, p. 177.
  6. ^ Daly, Corbett (20 October 2011). "Clinton on Qaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died"". CBSNEWS. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  7. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes—400 nominated movie quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. p. 36. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  8. ^ Merrell, Andrea. Murder of a Manuscript: Writing and Editing Tips to Keep Your Book Out of the Editorial Graveyard, p. 25 (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2016).
  9. ^ Smith, Christopher. Barron's GED Canada: High School Equivalency Exam, p. 170 (Barron's Educational Series, 2008).
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