Vedi Napoli e poi muori

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Maroseika, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Maroseika Moderator

    According to the widespread version, originally this expression was:
    Videre Neapolim et Mori,
    where Mori - small village near giant Naples, and expression meant "to see/consider big and small equally", but later Mori has changed to mori, because nobody knew by that time what Mori meant.

    However, there is a problem: where exactly was that ancient Mori? The only Mori we can find nowadays in Italy is the one in the province of Ventano, some 800 km far from Naples.
    Besides, according to Wikipedia, Mori was first recordered only in 850. Why then original of the expression said to be in Latin?
    And why Naples in this Latin expression is in Italian - Napoli instead of Neapolim?
  2. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    That's interesting! The version I knew was "To see Rome and die".
  3. Lars H

    Lars H Senior Member


    Neither have I ever heard of any other meaning than "die". But mori (if it's a noun) is plural. Could it perhaps mean:

    See Naples and the moors (the Moslem moors were established on Sicily in the ninth century and controlled the entire island in the next century).

    Or mori in the older meaning of simply "dark skinned"?

    Another question. In many versions the expression contains a "then" (It. poi) as well. Is this a later add-on to the original expression?
  4. Montesacro Senior Member

    To my knowledge this expression was first used by Goethe in his famous Italienische Reise.

    The Italian version is "vedi Napoli e poi muori". I suppose you know what it means:
    There's nothing more wonderful and intense than Naples, so once you visit it you might as well die because you'll never find anything better.

    Maroseika, what is the province of "Ventano"? :confused::D
    Where on earth have you come across this non-existent place-name? :)
    By the way Mori (the village) is in the province of Trento.
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    That's very interesting. However why on Earth it appeared in Latin then?

    Absolutely no idea. Of course I meant Veneto, which somehow shifted to Ventano between I found it in Wikipedia and wrote here...
    But according to you it's even not Veneto, but Trento. Anyway, too far away from Naples.
  6. Maroseika Moderator

    "Mori" meant in that version is Infinitivi Praesens of Latin morior - to die.

    I wish I knew original expression. But if I knew I would not be here now.
  7. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    This would be videre Neapolim et Mauros in Latin. The verb videre requires the accusative.
  8. Maroseika Moderator

    It turned out there really is a village Morire near Naples. So maybe originally the phrase was in Italian Videre Napoli e Morire and it really was ambiguous. However when it got widespread over Italy where hardly anybody knew about the small village near Vesuvius, it could be understood only directly, and the whole phrase changed to smth like Vedi Napoli у muori, in which form Goethe heard it.
    Then somebody for effect has semitranslated it in Latin.
  9. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Right, except that in Italian it is vedere.
  10. Agró

    Agró Senior Member

    Alta Navarra
    the phrase was in Italian Videre Napoli e Morire

    Was it? I thought it was:

    Vedi Napoli e poi muori.
  11. Montesacro Senior Member

    Where is this village, Maroseika? I can't find it on a map.
    Would you please provide some evidence of its existence?

  12. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    According to the Evening Post (Volume LXXXIX, Issue 134, 8 June 1915, Page 8) the saying arose in the north of Italy. A man of Mori (which is situated in a lovely part of the Trentino), proud of his hamlet, replied to a tourist, who had extolled the beauty of Naples, "Vedi Napoli eppoi Mori" ("see Naples and then Mori"), implying that Naples was all very well but it wasn't a patch on Mori. But the villager was misunderstood by the tourist.

    Believe or not.

    In Latin: Vide Neapolim et postea Mori.

    Versions with the deponent verb morior, mori for comparison:

    Vide Neapolim et postea morere.
    Videre Neapolim et postea mori.

    vide, morere - imperatives;
    videre, mori - infinitives;
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2010
  13. Maroseika Moderator

    Here you are (and even with the reference to the expression we are discussing):
  14. Lars H

    Lars H Senior Member

    Morire doesn't make sense. I've searched Google Maps, (which is good, it will find Istambul under the Norse name "Miklagård", and S:t Petersburg under the Finnish "Pietari"), Michelin 1:300 000 Road map over Italy and my car GPS. No hits for Morire...
    I begin to suspect there is a mistake mane by the Quebecian university.
  15. Maroseika Moderator

    Shame on them then...

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