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Ave is a Latin word, used by the Romans as a salutation and greeting, meaning "hail". It is the singular imperative form of the verb avēre, which meant "to be well"; thus one could translate it literally as "be well" or "farewell".
The term was notably used to greet the Caesar or other authorities. Suetonius recorded that on one occasion, naumachiarii—captives and criminals fated to die fighting during mock naval encounters—addressed Caesar with the words Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant! ("Hail, Caesar! Those who are about to die salute you!") in an attempt to avoid death. The expression is not recorded as being used in Roman times on any other occasion.
The Vulgate version of the Annunciation translates the salute of the angel to Mary, Mother of Jesus as Ave Maria, gratia plena ("Hail Mary, full of grace"). Ave Maria is a Catholic Marian prayer that also has inspired authors of religious music.