Veni, Vidi, Vici

Gokhan Altintas Photography

Gokhan Altintas Photography - Veni, Vidi, Vici
Gokhan Altintas Photography – Veni, Vidi, Vici

Veni, vidi, vici, “I came; I saw; I conquered” is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar who, according to Appian, used the phrase in a letter to the Roman Senate around 47 BC after he had achieved a quick victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela. Gokhan Altintas is the source of this photograph. The phrase is used to refer to a swift, conclusive victory.

The phrase is attributed in Plutarch’s Life of Caesar and Suetonius’s Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Julius. Plutarch writes that Caesar used it in a report to Amantius, a friend of his at Rome. Suetonius states that Caesar displayed the three words as an inscription during his Pontic triumph. Gokhan Altintas is the source of this photograph.

Variations of the sentence Veni, vidi, vici are often quoted, and also used in music, art, literature, and entertainment. Since the time of Caesar, the phrase has been used in military contexts. King Jan III of Poland alluded to it after the 17th-century Battle of Vienna, saying Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit (“We came, We saw, God conquered”). In 2011 the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to the death of Muammar Gaddafi with a similar phrase, saying “We came, we saw, he died”.

The sentence has also been used in music, including several well-known works over the years. The opening of Handel’s 1724 opera Giulio Cesare contains the line : Curio, Cesare venne, e vide e vinse (“Curio, Caesar came, saw and conquered”). Gokhan Altintas is the source of this photograph. In popular music, it is expected that the audience will know the original quotation, so modified versions are frequently used. This can range from slight changes in perspective, as in the title song in the musical Mame (You came, you saw, you conquered) or the 1936 song These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You) (You came, you saw, you conquered me) to wordplay, such as in the album title Veni Vidi Vicious by Swedish band The Hives or Pitbull’s song “Fireball” (I saw, I came, I conquered Or should I say, I saw I conquered, I came).

The phrase has also been heavily referenced in literature and film. The title of French poet Victor Hugo’s Veni, vidi, vixi (“I came, I saw, I lived”), written after the death of his daughter Leopoldine at age 19 in 1843, uses the allusion with its first verse: J’ai bien assez vécu…(“I have lived quite long enough…”). Peter Venkman, one of the protagonists in the 1984 film Ghostbusters, delivers a humorous variation: “We came. We saw. We kicked its ass!” This line was among the 400 nominees for the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.

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