Veni, vidi, vici is a Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar. It translates to, I came, I saw, I conquered. What a power phrase. It’s no surprise that you’ll see this phrase tattooed on men and women alike. The veni, vidi, vici tattoo speaks volumes about the person wearing this ink.
A statement that holds this much meaning must have an interesting story behind it. We’ll take a look into the origins of this phrase and come to a better understanding of why people like to get the veni, vidi, vici tattoo.
Veni, vidi, vici is the famous Latin phrase touted by Julius Caesar who was emperor over Rome from 49 BC to 44 BC. When Caesar used this phrase, the braggadocios figure of speech shocked and impressed many writers of the time. He used this phrase when writing a letter to the Roman Senate at around 47 BC and after battle. He had just accomplished dominating victory in the Battle of Zela over Pharnaces II of Pontus. In other words, veni, vidi, vici means he came in, took what he wanted and left.
The story behind the Battle of Zela starts when Caesar left Egypt and was travelling through Syria. This was after the defeat of the Ptolemaic army in the Battle of the Nile.
Pharnaces had just defeated Caesar’s army at the Battle of Nicopolis. Pharnaces then committed war crimes and atrocities against the Roman prisoners and any Romans he found in the area. Once Pharnaces heard that Caesar was on his way to deal with the issue, he sent out a peace seeking envoy. Caesar refused this offer of peace and continued to advance.
Caesar would be outnumbered in this fight. However, of the forces he had with him, they were veterans and battle hardened. He had somewhere around 11,000 soldiers ready to fight while Pharnaces had an army of around 20,000. In contrast to Caesar’s army, Pharnaces forces consisted of many tribal forces and levied infantry. He did have a strong core however, so he was confident. Most wouldn’t walk into a situation like this, but Pharnaces had to be dealt with for his actions toward the Roman people.
The city of Zile ended up being location of the fight. In today’s world, this location is in northern Turkey in the Tokat province. Both armies set up camps on hilltops but in a surprise move, the Pontic army unexpectedly attacked. It did catch Caesar’s forces off guard, but the surprising part was that Pharnaces would give up high ground and attack going uphill. Initially, the attack took Caesar by surprise but once the veteran army got their bearings, they pushed the Pontic army back down the hill and ended the battle quickly.
This was a great victory by Julius Caesar and was so quick and thorough that he decided to commemorate it with the phrase we’ve been speaking of, veni, vidi, vici. Suetonius, a Roman historian of the time, stated that as Caesar returned home, he was led by the light of a torches and a tablet that had the phrase veni, vidi, vici inscribed.
The popularity of this phrase has increased over the years. It’s been used in military context for many years and many will add a spin to the phrase. In the case King Jan III of Poland, he stated, “We came, We saw, God conquered” after the Battle of Vienna.
It has also been used in music by the likes of Jay-Z on his song “Encore” and the Swedish group The Hives when they titled their album Veni Vidi Vicious.
Styles of the Tattoo
You tend to see many different styles and ways this tattoo can be inked on the body. Many times, you’ll see the veni, vidi, vici tattoo inked between a laurel wreath. The laurel wreath is made from interlocking branches from the bay laurel. It is generally likened to Roman times as many Roman Emperors wore these wreaths. Therefore, it makes sense to put the veni, vidi, vici tattoo between this wreath.
You might also see these words written in Roman numeral style writing. Because of the connection with the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, it’s no surprise that people would want this tattoo inked in a style that is commemorative of Roman times. It’s a bold style of writing which is fitting for a phrase that was coined after such a bold victory.
Placement of the Tattoo
The veni, vidi, vici tattoo can be placed on almost any part of the body depending on how it is set up. If the tattoo wearer wants to have this phrase spelled straight across, then picking a longer place on your body might be more fitting. You tend to see tattoos like this on parts of the body with a little more space.
Possible locations include the forearm, leg, shoulder and chest. However, to squeeze this tattoo into a tighter space you can obviously change the size of the font or stack the phrase, so the words drop vertically and put them between a laurel wreath. In this case, it ends up being more of a circular shape of tattoo and can be placed in many other areas of the body.
No matter how you decide to wear this tattoo, you’ll be portraying a sign of strength and victory. These victories can come in the shape of a military battle or winning a battle against an illness or a way of life. This phrase can be taken in many different ways and it can mean a plethora of things for the person wearing it. What we do know is that whoever chooses to get veni, vidi, vici tattooed onto their body, they’ve accomplished some feat in their lives and are proud to show it off to the world.
We’ve compiled a list of pictures showing the different styles and placements of the veni, vidi, vici tattoo for you to look at. We hope this article gives you a better idea of the meaning behind the infamous phrase and that you can look at some of these pictures to get a better idea of your next tattoo. If you’re having trouble deciding, let us know and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.