“Veni, Vidi, Vici” (Classical Latin: [ˈweːniː ˈwiːdiː ˈwiːkiː]; Ecclesiastical Latin: [ˈvɛni ˈvidi ˈvitʃi]; “I came, I saw, I conquered.” ) is a Latin sentence reportedly written by Julius Caesar in 47 BC as a comment on his short war with Pharnaces II of Pontus in the city of Zela (currently known as Zile, in Turkey).
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 forms of the three Latin verbs “venire”, “videre”, and “vincere”.
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 many works over the years; ranging from the opening of Handel’s opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto, in “Curio, Cesare venne, e vide e vinse (Curio, Caesar came, saw and conquered)”, in the 1940s song “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)”, in the line “You came, you saw, you conquered” in the title song of the musical Mame, and “I came, I saw, I conquered – From record sales, to sold out concerts” in “Encore” by Jay-Z.
Apart from numerous references in literature, for example as the name of a chapter in Ender’s Game, the sentence is also often used in more general contexts, for example in the species name of the Conquered Lorikeet (Vini vidivici).
The French poet Victor Hugo wrote a poem with the title “Veni, vidi, vixi”. This title means “I came, I saw, I lived”, and the first verse is “J’ai bien assez vecu…” which could be translated as “I already lived too long…” This poem is one of the numerous ones he wrote after the death of his daughter Leopoldine at age 19 in 1843.
The British sitcom Chelmsford 123 had an episode called Vidi Vici Veni, which translates as “I saw, I conquered, I came”. This is a reference to a One-night stand. This has been used elsewhere as well.