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I came, I saw, I conquered - Julius Caesar in Turkey

14th December 2018

I came, I saw, I conquered – Julius Caesar in Turkey

‘Veni Vidi Vici’ Julius Caesars famous quote is known and used worldwide to this day…but did you know that he said these words whilst in Turkey?

In May 47BCE, the emperor Julius Caesar was in Egypt visiting his pregnant mistress Cleopatra VII.  A relationship which would later be his demise.  Cleopatra gave birth to their son in June, however trouble arose in Syria and Caesar had to go join his troops in battle.

On arrival Caesar learned that the prime trouble maker was the king of Pontus, an area in the Black Sea region in Northeatern Turkey.  According to the Life of Caesar written by the Greek historian Plutarch (45–125 CE), Pharnaces, the son of Mithridates, was stirring up trouble for the princes and tetrarchs in several Roman provinces, including Bithynia and Cappadocia. His next target was to be Armenia.

Caesar only had 3 legions but marched against 20,000 and defeated them in the battle of Zela (modern day Zile, a province of Nothern Turkey).

He sent news of his victory home, writing ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ – I came, I saw, I conquered!

Classical historians were impressed with his summary of triumph.

William Shakespeare also admired Caesar’s brevity which he used as a joke for his comical character Monsieur Biron in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

The phrase has been widely used in plays, films, books, tv shows and more…

The municipality of Zile in Northern Turkey applied to patent license the emperor’s phrase, and after over 2 years won the rights.

The copyright of the phrase now belongs to Zile for 10 years, they plan to renew it every decade. 

The mayor of Zile said “The copyright of the phrase belongs to our municipality for the following 10 years. We are planning to renew it every decade. A global tobacco company is using this phrase as part of its brand logo and we are planning to contact them and ask for our copyright share for the use of the phrase. We will allocate the funds we raise for the fight against tobacco use,”


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