There's a saying that's interesting for how it's comprised of 8 pairs of reduplicated syllables:

Te tero, Roma, manu nuda; date tela, latete

It's often loosely translated similarly to below:

I will tear you down, Rome, with my bare hands; give me your weapons and hide!

I've seen this variably attributed to Alaric, Hannibal or Caesar, but what is the true origin of the very fun to say line?

Is there anyone earlier than Alberto di Stade (or any references that potentially go back before him)? How did it get attached to Caesar, Alaric, and Hannibal? Any light that can be shed on this would be appreciated.

  • 3
    A while back, there was a question about Latin tongue-twisters; I was going to post this in an answer, but it was precisely the lack of any definite source that held me back. I tried to do some digging on my own but found nothing secure. I hope someone else has more success.
    – cnread
    Nov 26, 2021 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


The oldest mention I can find is from 1587: Chronicon Alberti. Helmaestadii 1587 (Iacobus Lucius), p. 20. https://books.google.fi/books?id=UZAB47bD684C&pg=PA20

It's Caesar again:

Cum Romam et Pompeium obsedisset, hunc versum fecit:

Te tero, Roma, manu nuda, date tela, latete.

I'm quite sure Albertus Stadensis (fl. 1240s and 50s) did not invent it but got it from somewhere, as it is quoted like this. Maybe it is a Medieval invention, but could go back way earlier.

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    Yeah, that's the same as the third link I provided. It might be the earliest, but why on earth did it get attached to Caesar of all people? And I wonder how then it later got attributed to Alaric?
    – cmw
    Nov 27, 2021 at 14:01
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    @cmw This is a comment and not an answer because I have no source, this is only a guess of mine: usually tongue-twisters are created putting together fitting words, regardless of meaning, and they are later attributed to people on the basis of the resulting meaning. Alaric, Hannibal and Caesar were all at war with Rome at a given moment, so they are good candidates. As can be read in the first source you link, Alaric was especially fit because he was a barbarus in both senses, a barbarian as well as a stutterer, a wonderful suspect for a hostile statement made up of duplicated syllables.
    – Dario
    May 8, 2022 at 17:37

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