Veni, vidi, vici


“I came, I saw, I conquered. [Latin: Veni, vidi, vici.]” 
 Julius Caesar


Latin, the language spoken by ancient Romans, is a descendant of the prehistoric unrecorded language, Proto-Indo-European, believed to be the ancestor of all Indo-European languages.

Considered a dead language, Latin continues to exist, even flourish, through its offspring, the Romance languages. Indeed, Latin seems remarkably alive, given that it is still used to create new words in modern languages, including English.  To me, Latin is the language of flowers, for Latin was known world-wide when the first plant classification system was devised.

You have heard that hot summer days are sometimes called, “dog days.”  Ancient Romans believed that the hottest days were caused by Sirius, the Dog Star and brightest star of the constellation Canis Major.  On the days when Sirius and the sun ascended in concert, the heat would be amplified.

Our “examine” comes from the Latin “examen,” the name given to the small indicator on an old-fashioned balance scale.  Hence, to “examine” means to “weigh in the balance” or analyze the results.

Our modern-day faction comes from the charioteers who performed in the Circus Maximus.  They were divided into four “factio,” the Latin word for party, and named the Reds, the Whites, the Greens and the Blues.  Their following bordered on the fanatical!

When we learn by rote, we learn through repetition.  The phrase comes from the Latin “rota,” meaning wheel.  To “learn by the wheel” is the visual of turning a thought or idea over and over whether in our mind, on paper or in verbal recitation.

My personal favourite is the origin of prestige, which comes from the Latin,“praestigium,” meaning a “delusion” or “illusion”   Another phase, “praestingere oculos” means “to blindfold” or by comparison, to “dazzle the eyes.” Perhaps if we knew its origins, we would not readily seek or desire prestige.

“Rome remained great as long as she had enemies who forced her to unity, vision, and heroism. When she had overcome them all she flourished for a moment and then began to die.” 
― Will Durant, Caesar and Christ