Veni, vidi, vici

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"Veni, vidi, vici" (Classical Latin: [ˈweːniː ˈwiːdiː ˈwiːkiː]; Ecclesiastical Latin: [ˈvɛni ˈvidi ˈvitʃi]; "I came, I saw, I conquered.") is a Latin sentence phrase the etymology of which reportedly extends from Caesar's oral declaration respecting his campaign in Britain (55-54 BC) to his written comment in 47 BC on his short war with Pharnaces II of Pontus in the city of Zela (currently known as Zile, in Turkey), both abbreviations arising from singular victory in certain location. Veni, vidi, and vici are first person perfect forms of the three Latin verbs venire, videre, and vincere.

Its form is classed as a tricolon and a hendiatris. The sentence appears in Plutarch and Suetonius (Plut. Caes. 50, Suet. Iul. 37.). Plutarch reports that he "gave Amantius, a friend of his at Rome, an account of this action",[1] 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;'".[2]

Allusions and references[edit source | edit]

Variations of the sentence "Veni, vidi, vici" are often quoted in music, art, literature, and entertainment.

A quote from King Jan III of Poland after the 17th-century Battle of Vienna"Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit"[3] ("We came, We saw, God conquered")—is an allusion to the phrase.

The sentence lends itself to use in music, and has been used in several well-known works over the years, from the opening of Handel's 1724 opera Giulio Cesare: "Curio, Cesare venne, e vide e vinse (Curio, Caesar came, saw and conquered)", references in the 1940s song "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" and a line ("You came, you saw, you conquered") from the title song of the musical Mame, through to modern times with such artists as Jay-Z (in "Encore"), Incubus (in "Beware! Criminal"), and The Hives (in Veni Vidi Vicious) still using references to the sentence.

There are also references in literature and film. In the poem "Veni, vidi, vixi" by French poet Victor Hugo, written after the death of his daughter Leopoldine at age 19 in 1843: the title means "I came, I saw, I lived", and the first verse is "J'ai bien assez vecu...", which could be translated as "I have already lived too long...". Peter Venkman, one of the protagonists in the 1984 film Ghostbusters, delivered 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.[4]


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

Notes[edit source | edit]

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