Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

For other examples, visit HERE:



Avē Imperātor, moritūrī tē salūtant 


Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you.

The translation here might sound familiar. It is featured in Gladiator.

[NOTE: A slight variant of the line is spoken at the start of the clip below. The fight scene after is quite brutal.]

The quote is not original to the movie. From Wiki:

It is a well-known Latin phrase quoted in SuetoniusDe vita Caesarum (“The Life of the Caesars”, or “The Twelve Caesars”).[1] It was reportedly used during an event in AD 52 on Lake Fucinus by naumachiarii—captives and criminals fated to die fighting during mock naval encounters—in the presence of the emperor Claudius. Suetonius reports that Claudius replied “Aut nōn” (“or not”).

Variant components in the exchange include Have[2] as the first word instead of the grammatically proper “Avē”, as well as the alternate wordings “Avē Caesar” and “Moritūrī tē salūtāmus”[3]—the latter in the 1st person (“We who are about to die salute you”)[4]—and a response in 15th-century texts of “Avete vos” (“Fare you well”).[5]

Despite its popularization in later times, the phrase is not recorded elsewhere in Roman history. Historians question whether it was ever used as a salute. It was more likely an isolated appeal by desperate captives and criminals condemned to die, and noted by Roman historians in part for the unusual mass reprieve granted by Claudius to the survivors.

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