General Question

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

What do you think this quote means?

Asked by aneedleinthehayy (1193points) October 2nd, 2008

“Vi veri universum vivus vici.” Translation: By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.

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19 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Someone certainly likes alliteration. Is it correct Latin, and who said it? Out of context, it can be parsed in a lot of vague and grandiose ways.

srtlhill's avatar

I think it means be true to yourself.

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

@Gail, I found out about it from the movie V For Vendetta but its said to be from a german legend about a man named Faust who made a pact with the Devil for more knowledge.

gailcalled's avatar

If you want a better retelling of the complex story of Faust, read Goethe’s play:’s_Faust

And for real torture intellectual stimulation, listen to Gounod’s opera (in five acts.)

gailcalled's avatar

And if you are still a glutton for punishment, read Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus (early 1600’s. A version of the quote is in that play.)

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

@Gail, lol thank you.

gailcalled's avatar

I can take you back even further, to the murky mists of German myths, if you like. (Probably not?)

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

@Gail, I think what you gave me is good enough for now, haha.

Allie's avatar

Since only one person has actually answered this question and said what they think the quote means, I guess I’ll add my two cents.
Since, needle, you said it was from a story where Faust made a deal with the devil for more knowledge, I think it is about how Faust acquired a greater insight on the ways in which the universe works and acts (maybe both scientifically and socially – I didn’t read the stories, so I don’t know) and then felt like he had conquered or achieved something. He knew more about the universe than his peers and found some meaning in that.
Consider my two cents added.

gailcalled's avatar

Allie; it is important to know what the deal was. Faust traded his soul for all that knowledge. And the quote from V has been tampered with historically. And they are plays, novels, operas and philosophical treatises…very complicated ones. In one version of the story Faust really thought he wanted Margaret to love him. That ended very badly.

“The story of Faust inspired a great deal of literature, music and illustration. Myriad diverse and often conflicting interpretations have been made of Faust Part Two (Jungian, Freudian, sociological, alchemical, Masonic, literary and classical to name but a few)
Although today many of the classical and Central European themes may be hard for the modern reader to grasp, the work remains a resonant parable on scientific learning and religion, passion and seduction, independence and love, as well as other subjects.

In poetic terms, Goethe places science and power in the context of a morally-interested metaphysics. Faust is a scientific empiricist who is forced to confront questions of good and evil, God and the devil, sexuality and mortality.”’s_Faust

Allie's avatar

“And they are plays, novels, operas and philosophical treatises…very complicated ones.” Is this a correction on my reference to it as a story? Although, I see you also referred to it as a story, too. I’m not sure why you added this.
Anyway.. Faust sounds interesting. Perhaps I’ll read it sometime.

gailcalled's avatar

A myth, story, legend – take your pick. My point was that many creative people have been fascinated by it over the centuries and there is more than one version of the tale. I was not trying to correct you – just add some more information.The Faust legend is matter which opus you choose. (I would suggest skipping Schopenhauer, however, unless you have serious insomnia.G)

Allie's avatar

Hmm.. I appreciate sleeping and I’d like to spend time doing that so I think I will skip Schopenhauer.
By the way, I’m still curious to hear your personal interpretation of the quote.

JackAdams's avatar

@gailcalled: Whatever you do, please do NOT subject us to quotes from the Götterdämmerung.

Thank you.

gailcalled's avatar

Jack; I was not planning to.
@Allie; That is only one version of the quote; and out of context all I can do is paraphrase. The translations is clear as is. If I tell the truth, I’m on top of things.’ (It is a given that I am alive, and “to conquer the universe” is a broad figure of speech.) No time for a term paper now.

Knotmyday's avatar

GotterdammerTHAT, I say.

gailcalled's avatar

@knot; that rung my chimes.

JackAdams's avatar

[groans, vomits]

SylfyrN's avatar

I think it can mean a number of things. Cheating the devil by living. The truth can set you free in a sense of finding out universal truth (which is impossible) so it’d refer to a personal universal truth about yourself. Your own truth can set you free and therefore you have conquered the only challenge which most people cannot complete and have conquered a difficult mission of personal discovery. I take it as both because I have my own personal issues and feel a great sense of happiness knowing I can fight off a horrible act and that knowing myself is a great accomplishment.

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