Veni, vidi, vici

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

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

28 thoughts on “Veni, vidi, vici

  1. Reading your post makes me realise how much of my Latin I have forgotten! I think that Latin as a school subject is enjoying a small revival…possibly?

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  2. I didn’t learn latin, what a pity! A lot of art books of the past where wrote in this language. I don’t have the time to learn latin because I have enought work to learn the english language.
    Greetings from Berlin sends Susanne

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    • My son is taking German language studies in University – he loves it! The next time we travel to Germany, I’m taking him along with me. It is so much more exciting when we can speak another language. It didn’t occur to me that art books in the past were written in Latin! But of course – Latin was the universal language! You always give my day sunshine! 🙂

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      • You are welcome, Clanmother 🙂 you give me sunshine, too.
        In Berlin it is 6 a.m. and I get to write about etching in my blog and for a lecture.
        Have a nice day, Susanne

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  3. I always remember the thrill I had when we got to those words in our translating of Caesar’s Gallic Wars…
    I love it that during WW2, at an international conference, the Czech president couldn’t speak English or French, and Mr Attlee who was looking after him, didn’t speak Czech, so they talked to each other in Latin which was still a common language in 1943…

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    • How amazing! To be able to communicate in Latin in 1943 – so much for being a deceased language. As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
      Here is a language story that you would find interesting. One of my co-workers immigrated to Canada from Vietnam and her sister immigrated to an Eastern European country when they were quite young. Their children were immersed in the language of their new home. The sisters still communicate in their first language, but the cousins no longer had any way to communicate with each other.

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      • Who knows…this was a few years ago; in our fast paced world, that is several lifetimes.
        The language discussion goes to the heart of our desire for a universal language, but it cannot be at the expense of other languages. Even so, I have enough trouble trying to communicate in English let alone another language. And now, I am trying to learn the texting shorthand!!! It keeps our lives very interesting… 🙂

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  4. I also did Latin at school, but don’t remember much of it, although I do remember “Veni, vidi, vici.” 🙂

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    • How could anyone forget the great Julius Caesar, especially when he had Shakespeare as his marketing agent!!! As Julius once said, “It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” And you have a great talent for creating! 🙂

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  5. Of course, the word dog is here, lol. And, like a good magnet, I arrived.

    I laughed through this, which surprised me. Why? After I read, “…remarkable alive…” my thought was you betcha, especially in the legal community, and there no one agrees on definitions, lol. Perhaps the lawyers are forwarding that last quote you mentioned. (any lawyers reading this, please forgive me-including my hubby, lol).

    It’s nice to feel welcome to share things with you. ❤

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    • Oh, I am so glad!!! I look forward to your visits and comments. I always smile when someone says an idea, a thought, a language etc is dead. Most times they keep on moving forward. It is rather hard to stop a movement! Think of Caesar – we still quote him! Hugs!!!

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  6. interesting that Latin is descendent from unrecorded prehistoric languages but is still the language of science. Makes it seem we fall below the ancients as opposed to rise above them.

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    • Funny you should mention that – My thoughts were on similar lines. Every generation thinks that they have seen the most progress, the most change, and have a better understanding of our world and social order. What if!!! What if we were NOT as progressive as previous generations? Indeed, our generation has made enormous strides for mankind, but have we used the accumulated knowledge to the best advantage. Think of how much we learn in the first 3 years of our life compared to adulthood. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion!! 🙂

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  7. Yes, it would be great to be able to talk to those of old who knew and spoke Latin well. I am still trying to learn to speak English well. None of the schools I attended taught Latin. My mother took it in high school, she said. Like someone said: “Maybe Latin will have a come back”. That could be good.

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