When in Rome, do as the Romans do

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do[1] (Medieval Latin sī fuerīs Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; sī fuerīs alibī, vīvitō sīcut ibī; often shortened to when in Rome...),[2] or a later version when in Rome, do as the Pope does,[3] is a proverb attributed to Saint Ambrose. The proverb means that it is best to follow the traditions or customs of a place being visited.

Saint Monica and her son, Saint Augustine, discovered that Saturday was observed as a fast day in Rome, where they planned to visit. However, it was not a fast day where they lived in Milan. They consulted Saint Ambrose who said "When I am here (in Milan) I do not fast on Saturday, when in Rome I do fast on Saturday".

That reply is said to have brought about the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do".[4][5]


  1. ^ Speake, Jennifer, ed. (2015). Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (6th ed.). OUP Oxford. p. 269. ISBN 978-01-910-5959-9. OCLC 914473236.
  2. ^ Cresswell, Julia (2010). Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins. OUP Oxford. Rome; pp. 371–372. ISBN 978-01-995-4793-7. OCLC 965141221.
  3. ^ Dixon, James Main (1891). Dictionary of Idiomatic English Phrases. T. Nelson and Sons. p. 273. OCLC 156125145.
  4. ^ Marvin, Dwight Edwards (1922). The Antiquity of Proverbs: Fifty Familiar Proverbs and Folk Sayings with Annotations and Lists of Connected Forms, Found in All Parts of the World. G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 294–299. OCLC 978104222.
  5. ^ Brewer, Ebenezer Cobham (1900). Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: Giving the Derivation, Source, Or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words that Have a Tale to Tell (3 ed.). Cassell. pp. 1070. OCLC 258268902.