Nick Gilbert, Fragrance Expert, 6 September 2022
Caesar’s celebratory phrase “Veni, Vidi, Vici!), – meaning “I came, I saw, I conquered” – is oft repeated and paraphrased throughout history. A proclamation of a decisive and quick victory over enemy forces, it has resonated with us for over 2000 years.
In the words of Julius Caesar
Caesar was welcomed back to Rome in a ceremony of pomp and pageantry with a tablet inscribed with Veni Vidi Vici – noted by Roman historian Seutonius as being particularly poignant, expressing “what was done, so much as the dispatch with which it was done”.
Caesar is known to have coined several phrases that have remained relevant and revered – including Alea iacta est (“the die is cast” – or the dice have been rolled) and Ut est rerum omnium magister usus (“experience is the best teacher”).
Widely regarded as one of the best orators of Latin in the Roman world, Caesar delivered written texts that outlined his experiences on the frontlines back to the Roman Senate. It is thought he did this not only to improve his reputation and popularity with the Roman people, but also act as ‘despatches from the front’.
The Rule of Three
It is believed that Julius Caesar first declared “Veni, Vidi, Vici!” in a letter to the Roman Senate following his swift and complete victory in the Battle of Zela. The brevity and stylish flair of the phrase impressed audiences then and still captures the imagination today. There is nothing as satisfying to the ear as an alliterative tricolon, especially when it is delivered with such wit and well-deserved confidence!
Veni, Vidi, Vici remains one of the finest examples of a tricolon or hendiatris in history, or words in groups of threes are a powerful mnemonic tool for speeches and writing. Well known tricolons include the French national motto of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, in song lyrics like “Me, Myself and I”, “sex and drugs and rock‘n’roll” as well as slogans in advertising like Kellogg’s snap, crackle, pop! Even with character names in books and movies such as Ed, Edd, & Eddie, the chipmunks Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Milly Molly Mandy and Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie and not forgetting The Good, the Bad and The Ugly.
According to Mark Forsyth, author of The Elements of Eloquence, a tricolon is so useful because “two is only a pair, and four is all wrong” – groups of three naturally resonate with us, because they either form a pattern that we can follow, or, as Forsyth notes we can “set up a pattern and then break it”. The power of a tricolon as a punchline was perhaps best understood by the inimitable Dorothy Parker who was famously quoted as saying “I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.”
Veni, Vidi, Vici has maintained its place in cultural relevance with paraphrasing from military leaders throughout the years. But it has also inspired art – is romanticised by writers such as Shakespeare. Handel used the phrase in his Opera Julius Caesar, and the translated version – “I came I saw I conquered” is a powerful lyric in Jay-Z’s Encore and repeated in Madonna’s Veni Vidi Vici.
The phrase famously uttered by Caesar was given a new life and relevance in the 1984 Ghostbusters movie, in a line Bill Murray is said to have improvised after the Ghostbusters catch their first ghost – Slimer. Jubilant and victorious, fresh from ‘battle’, he announces to the owner of the haunted hotel “we came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”
Symbolism in Tattoos
Veni, Vidi, Vici is a very popular tattoo – usually written in stylised script, and often centred between a laurel wreath. Thought of as a power phrase, its relevance to the wearer is referential to victory. It could refer to winning personal battles, be those mental, physical, or accomplished a huge personal feat. Veni, Vidi, Vici is worn with pride by those who get it tattooed onto their skin.
The smell of success
Vici Leather is our homage to Caesar’s legendary battle cry, and the sweet smell of success had to be based around leather. Cinnamon and pink pepper represent spices used in the scenting of leather, tuberose the white florals of ‘peau d’espagne’ and wormwood and amber the bitter and resinous side of tanning.