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I Came; I Saw; I Conquered: Analysis of Julius Caesar's Quote

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  • 0:04 Julius Caesar & His…
  • 1:14 The First Use of the Quote
  • 2:16 The Quote Becomes a Symbol
  • 2:51 The Quote's Legacy
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Douglas Rich

Douglas has taught high school History and has a master's degree in Education and Business Administration.

In this lesson, learn about the quote 'I Came; I Saw; I Conquered' and why it has lasted over 2,000 years. Discover which historical figure provided the quote and learn more about its legacy.

Julius Caesar & His Famous Quote

'I came; I saw; I conquered' is a quote (or repetition of passage, text, or spoken word) you may have heard from previous history lessons or even in a literature class, but the origin of the quote may surprise you. Julius Caesar first gave the quote in 47 BCE after a victorious battle. The quote has lasted ever since it was first used.

Gaius Julius Caesar was born in 100 BCE in Rome. Caesar rose through Roman society as a soldier, governor, and general based on his accomplishments and successes in each of his titles. Ancient Rome was a vast empire that, at its height of power, spanned from modern-day Great Britain to western Asia.

The Romans used military power to control a vast expanse of land. The empire was divided into several kingdoms that were ruled by local kings. Generals were needed to help quell uprisings and ensure the empire remained intact. Caesar was a general that was responsible for ensuring control over conquered provinces and expanding the empire.

The First Use of the Quote

Caesar and his army faced Pharnaces, king of the Bosporus, in 47 BC. Bosporus was a Roman province subject to laws and tributes. Pharnaces was accused by Julius Caesar of attacking Roman citizens and holding them hostage. Julius Caesar and his army met forces led by Pharnaces at a small town named Zela in the Bosporan Kingdom. Caesar led his soldiers to a quick and decisive victory, which helped further solidify Roman control in the province.

Caesar wrote a letter to the Roman Senate explaining details of the victory along with the phrase, 'I came; I saw; I conquered.' The quote was used to reflect Caesar's ability as a general to quell the uprising and to ensure the Roman senate knew his role in the victory that helped the Roman Empire remain the largest and most powerful in the known world at that time. Caesar took full credit for the victory with the quote, and his popularity grew even more with his soldiers and the Roman citizens.

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