A variation on Caesar (Veni Vidi Vici)

Latin Language Asked on August 25, 2021

We just moved into a new house, and my cat was very quick to make herself comfortable. I described her approach as “I came, I saw, I took possession” and of course that got me to wondering what that would be in Latin.

My first guess would be

Veni, Vidi, Habiti

but I’m not sure that conveys exactly what I want. Is there a better way to express this?

Also, how would you change this to express “She came, she saw, she took possession”?

5 Answers

Vēnī, vīdī, sūmpsī.

literally means "I came, I saw, I took possession."*

Sūmpsī is the past tense of sūmō, which primarily means "I take hold of (with my hands)" but is commonly extended to a wide variety of senses many of which still live in English: "assume", "presume", "subsume", "consume", "consumption", "presumptuous", and even "sumptuary" (pertaining to commoners showing off expensive possessions to demonstrate that they're rich, thereby offending the nobility). Especially in Latin, many of these senses imply a certain arrogance or uppity attitude, taking possession or asserting something beyond one's authority or without justification.

In the third person, it's:

Vēnit, vīdit, sūmpsit.

* If you'd like to follow classical pronunciation, all the vowels are long. (This is optional: Latin is an international language with many pronunciations.)

Correct answer by Ben Kovitz on August 25, 2021

With thanks to fdb; a request for (the original) alliteration style.

Possibly, "vallo": to surround or fortify a camp with a palisaded rampart"?

The cat takes and surrounds his territory with urine. A "rampart" of foul-smelling odours, more repellent than any wall. It's pushing the limits of translation; but, here it is:

"veni, vidi, vallavi."

Answered by tony on August 25, 2021

One verb that Caesar himself often used to describe appropriating, claiming, or taking possession/control of a place is occupare. The Oxford Latin dictionary includes among the definitions of this verb 'To appropriate to oneself, seize to the exclusion of others'; 'To take possession of (for residence or cultivation), occupy'; 'To make one's own, assume (a position, title, etc.)'; and 'To take up a position at or in.'

This would give, in the third person, venit, vidit, occupavit.

Answered by cnread on August 25, 2021

A simple one: "veni, vidi, cepi" = "....I took; seized; captured; occupied; got; won over; made a choice of; selected".

Yes, some of these (Pock. Ox. Lat. Dict.) have a military/ aggressive connotation (Caeser's original meaning); but, cats are known for taking and defending territory. Did you attempt to move her?

Answered by tony on August 25, 2021

For "took possession" in this context, I would use the verb praesūmō; for the past tense, this becomes praesūmpsī, "I took possession (of something)". It's the root of the English word "presumptuous" and has similar connotations in Latin—which are very appropriate here, if your cat is anything like mine!

To change it to third person ("she" instead of "I"), just change the final to -it: vēnit, vīdit, praesūmpsit.

Answered by Draconis on August 25, 2021

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