Veni, Vedi, Veci: Caesar and the Bully

As Count Fosco tells his narrative, and he comes to the point where he explains his interactions with Mr. Fairlie, he simply sees the man as another obstacle to his malevolent plans. Fosco describes how he “came, saw, and conquered Fairlie” (Collins 605), a reference to the Latin veni, vedi, veci (I came, I saw, I conquered) used by Julius Caesar around 47 B.C. (see link at bottom of post). Caesar’s phrase was used in reference to a quick and easy victory, which was exactly what Fosco believed he had with Fairlie. Interestingly, going back to Mr. Fairlie’s narrative of the conversation with Fosco, he does not fully commit himself to the foreigner; Mr. Fairlie thinks to himself as he writes the note to Laura about traveling to Limmeridge: “There was not the least danger of the invitation being accepted, for there was not the least chance that Laura would consent to leave Blackwater Park, while Marian was lying there ill” (Collins 355). Fairlie did not believe he had been conquered by Fosco, nor even that he was obeying Fosco’s wishes; he merely believed he was acting in a way that would allow Fosco to leave the house without making too much of a fuss. Fosco, on the other hand, saw this as a victory; Fairlie was doing exactly what the foreigner needed him to, with little complaint or hesitation. This feeds straight into the idea that readers have of Fairlie. He never fights against anyone around him, he (oh God!) simply doesn’t have the nerves for it. Fairlie is weak, incapable, complicit and easily conquered; veni, vedi, veci indeed.

Fosco, of course, must boast about his victory over the feeble man. Like Caesar before him, he must let the world know that he came, saw, and conquered someone weaker than himself. Fosco does this because he is insecure; he is finally called out for the whole conspiracy to get Laura’s money, and clearly he was not able to conquer Laura or Marian, so he must go after the weakest link and tell everyone about it. This weakens Fosco’s character, although he believes it strengthens it, and makes him seem like a bully (which he is!).

2 thoughts on “Veni, Vedi, Veci: Caesar and the Bully”

  1. Your analysis is really interesting! I love how you illustrated the facets of Fosco’s character and the differences between his self-perception and the way others perceive him. I think his character heavily relies on that: His constant overestimation of his own skills leading to a sort of God (or should I say Caesar?) complex. It is also revealing to analyze this through a gender lens because seems unable to conquer two female characters he seems to have an understanding of conquering male characters. Interesting, indeed…

  2. I LOVE this blog post, and specifically the connection you have made to Julius Caesar. While I had never compiled the two together, Count Fosco and Caesar himself, I was very interested in your rendition of a ”false victory”. Due to Count Fosco being such a villainous character, it is quite fair to say that he would’ve acted in such a manner described above. Through his boasting and supposed superiority over others however, we can ultimately see that underlying these characteristics are many flaws. One of these flaws, that you have pointed out, is that Fairlie is not entirely convinced. Therefore, the relationship between the two, Fosco and Fairlie, is greatly altered, and Fosco’s intelligence that he swears he has, simply may not be all quite there…

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