In my country (Italy) there's a popular saying that goes "Se non puoi sconfiggere il tuo nemico, fattelo amico", translated to english as "If you can't defeat your enemy, have him as your friend".

This phrase is usually attributed to Julius Caesar, but I can't find a proper source confirming this.

I've tried searching the italian phrase, its english translation, and the (supposedly original) latin one: "Si non potes inimicum tuum vincere, habeas eum amicum".

The only results I get are from pages reporting the phrase as is, used as an introdution to some argument, and maybe adding "attributed to Caesar".

So did Julius Caesar really say "If you cannot defeat your enemy, have him as your friend" and if so is there any direct source I can cite for this?

Or is it maybe an adaptation of the english proverb "if you can't beat them, join them"? And if so what's its origin?

  • 2
    To me this seems to be related in meaning to the saying "keep your friends close and your enemies closer", maning keep your enemies close y so you can keep track of what they are up to. Dec 10, 2022 at 17:55
  • 1
    @M.A.Golding It's not quite the same thing, it's much closer in spirit to "If you can't beat them, join them" as said in the OP. The idea is that having a permanent conflict with someone you can't defeat is pointlessly self-destructive, so you are better served in finding common ground, even if it costs you. Dec 11, 2022 at 17:48


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