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"Veni, vidi, vici" (pronounced [ˈweːniː ˈwiːdiː ˈwiːkiː] in Classical Latin or [ˈveni ˈvidi ˈvitʃi] in Vulgar Latin) is a famous Latin sentence reportedly written by Julius Caesar in 47 BC as a comment on his short war with Pharnaces II of Pontus.[1]

It translates as "I came, I saw, I conquered". Its form (a three-part sentence or motto) 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", 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".

"Veni", "vidi", and "vici" are first person perfect tense forms of the three Latin verbs "venire", "videre", and "vincere".

Cultural references

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

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

At times, it has been misconceived as a sort of "magic word". The three words in the sentence are similar, suggesting a sort of chant or spell. The television show Doug from Nickelodeon applied the term as such.

The sentence lends itself to use in music, and has been used in works ranging from the opening of Handel's opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto, through "You came, you saw, you conquered me" from "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" in the 1940s and "You came, you saw, you conquered" in the title song of the musical Mame, to the lines "I came, I saw, I conquered – From record sales, to sold out concerts" in "Encore" by Jay-Z.

The television show History Bites has one character tell of a one night stand as "Vidi, vici, veni", which another character translates as "I saw, I conquered, I... oh". In the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters, Bill Murray's character Dr. Peter Venkman says, "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!".

Apart from numerous references in literature, the sentence is also often used in more general contexts, for example in the species name of the Conquered Lorikeet (Vini vidivici). It is often used as a motto or a tagline, due to its forceful connotation, such as in the logo of Philip Morris International, or in the US Army Sniper School insignia.


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