Veni, vidi, vici

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The Philip Morris logo, from a pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

"Veni, vidi, vici" (Classical Latin: [ˈweːniː ˈwiːdiː ˈwiːkiː]; Ecclesiastical Latin: [ˈvɛni ˈvidi ˈvitʃi]; "I came, I saw, I conquered") is a Latin phrase. Its popular usage reportedly originates from a letter that Julius Caesar wrote to the Roman Senate around 46 BC, in the city of Zela (now in Tokat Province, Turkey, and known as Zile), after achieving victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela.[1] The phrase is used to refer to a swift, conclusive victory.

Veni, vidi, and vici are first person perfect 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. It appears in Plutarch (Plut. Caes. 50) and Suetonius (Suet. Iul. 37.). Plutarch reports that Caesar "gave Amantius, a friend of his at Rome, an account of this action",[2] whereas Suetonius says "In His Pontic triumph he displayed among the show-pieces of the procession an inscription of but three words, 'I came, I saw, I conquered'".[3]

Examples of popular usage[edit]

Robert Browne Hall's 1896 march, Veni, Vidi, Vici, performed by the United States Air Force Band.

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  • King Jan III of Poland alluded to the phrase after the Battle of Vienna in 1683, saying "Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit"[4] ("We came, We saw, God conquered").
  • Bodybuilder Aziz Shavershian, also known as Zyzz, used this quote. After his death, his likeness and this quote were used as a popular shirt design.
  • Hillary Clinton joked with a TV news reporter moments after she learned that Muammar Gaddafi had been killed in Libya. She told the reporter: 'We came, we saw, he died' as she learned of the dictator's grisly end.

"Veni, vidi, vici", or variations of the phrase, have been used in several well-known pieces of music:

Numerous references have also been made in literature and film.

  • After the death of his daughter Leopoldine in 1843 at the age of 19, the French poet Victor Hugo wrote the poem "Veni, vidi, vixi" ("I came, I saw, I lived"). The first verse is "J'ai bien assez vecu ...", which could be translated as "I have already lived too long ...".
  • In the 1984 film Ghostbusters, Peter Venkman delivers a humorous variation on the phrase: "We came. We saw. We kicked its ass." This line was among the 400 nominees for the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa44
  2. ^ Plutarch, Life of Caesar from penelope.uchicago.edu
  3. ^ Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Julius from penelope.uchicago.edu
  4. ^ Lettere memorabili, istoriche, politiche, ed erudite raccolte da Antonio Bulifon (Pozzuoli, 1698), vol. 1, p. 177.
  5. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes—400 nominated movie quotes". American Film Institute. p. 36. Retrieved July 18, 2012.