Vi veri universum vivus vici
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Vi veri universum vivus vici (also written as "Vi veri veniversum vivus vici") is a Latin phrase meaning: "By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe", or, "By the power of truth I, a mortal, have conquered all creation."
The phrase has been made popular as a result of the movie version of the graphic novel V for Vendetta. In the graphic novel, the initials "V.V.V.V.V." appear embossed in an arch of V's hideout the "Shadow Gallery" — the character of "V" explains that these stand for the phrase Vi veri veniversum vivus vici. In the film, this phrase appears instead on a mirror, also inside V's Shadow Gallery. (In addition to prominently featuring the letter 'V', the phrase contains five words, which in Roman numerals is represented as 'V'). While the film attributes the quotation to the work Faust (without stating more specifically which version of Faust), the graphic novel attributes the phrase to "a German gentleman named Dr. John Faust".
As a result of the claim in the film, this quote is often incorrectly attributed to Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, or to Goethe's Faust. However, no use of the phrase appears in either work. It has also been attributed to Theodor Reuss, author of Das Erotische in Goethes Faust und die Tantriks.
The phrase appears in the writings of English occultist Aleister Crowley. In The Vision and the Voice ("The Cry of the 4th Aethyr", dated December 16, 1909) Crowley writes, "his name shall be called Vir [man], and Vis [power], and Virus [poison], and Virtus [manliness], and Viridis [green], in one name that is all these, and above all these." In a footnote this is glossed as "Vi Veri Universum Vivus Vici, the motto of the Seer as Magister Templi". Since in Latin the letter U can be written as V, the phrase can be abbreviated V.V.V.V.V. In the published edition (Red Wheel/Weiser, 1999) the list of abbreviations describes "V.V.V.V.V" (short for the phrase) as Crowley's "8°=3° A∴A∴ motto". Crowley would appear to be the most likely source for the phrase and abbreviation as used in the graphic novel and subsequent film, with the Latin word universum being changed to the non-Latin (and actually meaningless) word veniversum.
Notes and references
- "V for Vendetta", Alan Moore and David Lloyd, page 43
- "V for Vendetta", Alan Moore and David Lloyd, vol. 2 of 10, page 11
- "The Vision and the Voice", Aleister Crowley