Rome wasn't built in a day

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"Rome wasn't built in a day" is an adage attesting to the need for time to create great things. It is the usual English translation of a medieval French phrase, Rome ne fu[t] pas faite toute en un jour, from the collection Li Proverbe au Vilain, published around 1190.[1] The modern French form is «Rome ne s'est pas faite en un jour».

The expression, (as "Rome was not built in one day") is given in English in John Heywood's A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of all the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue (c. 1538),[2] while Queen Elizabeth I referred to the idea in Latin in an address at Cambridge in 1563.[3] The present perfect and oratio recta version of the Latin saying—the version one would use for a stand-alone quotation—would be Roma uno die non est condita.

The phrase was used in the title of a 1964 song Sam Cooke[4] also covered by British singer Anne Shelton in 1962.[5]


  1. ^ "Li proverbe au vilain, die Sprichwörter des gemeinen Mannes : Altfranzösische Dichtung nach den bisher bekannten Handschriften". 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  2. ^ Heywood, John; Sharman, Julian (1874). "The Proverbs of John Heywood: Being the "Proverbes" of that Author Printed ... - John Heywood - Google Books". Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  3. ^ «Hæc tamen vulgaris sententia me aliquantulum recreavit, quæ etsi non auferre, tamen minuere possit dolorem meum, quæ quidem sententia hæc est, Romam uno die non fuisse conditam.» "But this common saying has given me a certain amount of comfort – a saying which cannot take away, but can at least lessen, the grief that I feel; and the saying is, that Rome was not built in one day." —
  4. ^ hRome (Wasn't Built In A Day) on YouTube
  5. ^ Anne Shelton: Rome Wasn't Built In A Day on YouTube