Thursday 13 November 2008
Veni, vidi, vici, (I came, I saw, I conquered): Origin and meaning
“I came, I saw, I conquered”. The meaning is evident, but it is not so much as to what was said than the how, when and why that gives these words a deeper or second level meaning.
There is no doubt to the origin. Julius Caesar. (Not Shakespeare’s Caesar).
Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legions in 49 BC, in defiance of Roman law forbidding such an action. This resulted in civil war, and Pompey running off to the eastern provinces to continue his fight with Caesar on the battlefield. After a number of military campaigns Pompey, his biggest political and military adversary was defeated. Then, after defeating Pharnaces of Pontus, the tide had turned in his favor. He was now in control and on his way back to Rome. He sent a message to the patrician Senate containing only these three words “ Veni, vidi, vici”. This stressing the fact that he was now the power to be dealt with and was returning to Rome as the victor.
These three words are often cited as a perfect example of a laconic message. Brief, to the point, and an amount of rudeness or contempt that he had for the Senate. Meaning was greater than the sum of the words.
From the English translation of the works of Suetonius, the following passage (XXXVII)
“ 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”, not indicating the events of the war, as the others did, but with the speed with which it was finished”
( Post to be edited……..too much of a hurry today)
More Caesar quotes at another post