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Hi I want to use the phrase Vita Bene Vixit in a commemorative magazine. google translation says 'Life Well Lived' Is this right? What exactly is the meaning of this phrase please. thanks

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    The literal meaning of this phrase is what Google Translate gave you, but it does not make sense to me. Where does this Latin phrase come from? Aug 29, 2023 at 20:26
  • my father in law who turns 100 is a lover of latin phrases . So we were looking for a phrase signifying a life well spent or lived. to be included in a magazine published to mark the occasion. so we google translated it. Is it incorrect to use it ? Or Do you know of any other phrases which can be used in this instance ? much appreciated. many thanks
    – lukman
    Aug 29, 2023 at 22:00
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    You might want to read this about Google Translate: latin.stackexchange.com/a/4353/78
    – cmw
    Aug 30, 2023 at 2:45

3 Answers 3

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Verbatim, vita bene victa 'a life well lived'.

Some possible issues:

  • Victa can mean either 'lived' or 'conquered'. That said, it seems to me that context makes it obvious which is intended. The so-called cognate accusative, where a verb which usually takes no object takes one that it etymologically related (to live a life, to die a death, etc.), is common enough in Latin that the intended meaning is likely to be assumed.
  • Victa assumes that the life has already been lived and is therefore no longer being lived. If the person in question is still alive, then something like vita quae bene vivitur 'a life which is being well lived' would be more semantically appropriate, but less pithy. If this is the case, I would suggest adding more information about your intended meaning and application so that someone can come up with a more authentic Latin quotation.

By the by, to give a little more information about the issue that @cmw is tackling, some English verbs have only two so-called principal parts, whereas others have three:

Strong Verb Weak Verb
1. Drive Live
2. Drove Lived
3. Driven Lived

Your quotation is using the second lived (equivalent to driven, victa), but your translation is using the first lived (equivalent to drove, vixit). Vita bene vixit means that it is the life that has lived well rather than the person living.

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    Nice answer, and welcome to the site!
    – cmw
    Aug 29, 2023 at 21:59
  • Note the vowel quantity differs between vīcta (from vīvō, "I live") and victa (from vincō, "I conquer)
    – MPW
    Aug 30, 2023 at 15:12
  • great explanation. many thanks
    – lukman
    Aug 30, 2023 at 17:43
  • we want to add a caption to the magazine we are going to publish to mark my father in law's 100 birthday ma. He loves Latin phrases If so, can we use 'vita quae bene vivitur ' What do you mean by 'vita bene consumpta ' . many thanks for your suggestion
    – lukman
    Aug 30, 2023 at 17:47
  • "Victa assumes that the life has already been lived and is therefore no longer being lived" -- how so? See @cnread's Cicero example for vita bene acta, where the context implies that the person not only is alive, but happy in the knowledge of a life well lived. At 100, it is probably safe to say most people will not resent the notion of drawing a certain bottom line already. Aug 31, 2023 at 6:52
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It's a bit tricky to get this succinctly in English, but it essentially means "a/the life is dead (but when it was alive, it had lived well." You can see this doesn't make any sense. The verb vivere in the past tense can mean "he/she/it has lived," with the idea that, since they're not longer living, they're dead.

I think you're trying to say "a life lived well." But the online translator mistakes the two forms of "lived" in English, one being a participle and the other a finite verb. Vixit is the latter. If you substituted out vita for vir ("man"), you will see the distinction immediately: "The man lived well."

If I am right, then I strongly do not recommend using this phrase, and opt for real Latin, in which case you have to think about what you intend to mean. For example, are you referring to living a good life? Then you could use vita bona ("the good life") or something like vitam fortunatam vixit ("he lived a fortunate life"). Or are you referring to a moral life? This too would be translated differently.

Eschewing the "word for word" approach and finding an authentic Latin turn of phrase will yield a better motto for your magazine. But before you can do that, you have to start with what you want the words to mean.

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  • many thanks .appreciated
    – lukman
    Aug 30, 2023 at 18:29
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In De senectute (On old age) §9, Cicero says:

...conscientia bene actae vitae multorumque bene factorum recordatio iucundissima est.

...the consciousness of a life well lived and the recollection of many deeds well done are most pleasant.

This would give, in the nominative, bene acta vita or vita bene acta.

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  • This is the best answer IMHO. My first idea was ... peracta, and I found a few Neo-Latin examples for that, but the Cicero example is perfect. Aug 31, 2023 at 6:44
  • Many thanks . We have decided to use vita bene acta.. It is really appreciated
    – lukman
    Aug 31, 2023 at 19:24
  • This is a good answer. It also implies both activity and agency in the living of said life, rather than the simple living of it; that is, a life lived deliberately. @lukman , if you've decided on this answer, you might consider formally 'accepting' it, so that the user can receive internet points and the question can be marked as answered.
    – gaufridus
    Sep 1, 2023 at 7:23

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