In Tombstone (1993) Doc Holliday played by Val Kilmer and Johnny Ringo played by Michael Biehn have an unsubtitled exchange in Latin.

What are they saying, and what does it mean?

3 Answers 3


Doc: In vino veritas.

Ringo: Age quod agis.

Doc: Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego.

Ringo: Iuventus stultorum magister.

Doc: In pace requiescat.

The literal meaning is

Doc: In wine there is truth.

Ringo: Do what you’re doing.

Doc: Let the Jew Apella believe it, not I.

Ringo: Youth is the teacher of fools.

Doc: Rest in peace.

This dialogue has a lot of subtlety whose sense I try to convey below.

  • There’s truth in wine.
    Along with being a gambler, Doc is a heavy drinker. Just prior, he said he hated Johnny because he reminded him of himself and later because Johnny is an educated man. Doc acknowledges that he is speaking more frankly than he otherwise might to a member of a criminal gang.
  • Do what you’re doing.
    Members of the Jesuit order use this Latin phrase to those undergoing Jesuit formation that they should focus intensely on their work. In English, we might say “Concentrate on the task at hand.” In the film, the task at hand was Doc’s drunkenness, hardly worthy of the high-minded admonition.
  • Let the Jew Apella believe it, not I.
    This is a quotation of Satires by the ancient poet Horace. In book one, satire five, people were trying to convince travelers that miracles were taking place at their shrines. Rather than a simple “I don’t believe you,” this phrase is utterly dismissive. In English, we might say it as “Go tell someone who will believe it.” Doc is likewise brushing off Johnny.
  • Youth is the teacher of fools.
    Johnny is the younger of the two, but with this line and by tapping his pistols, he implies that Doc is the inexperienced one unaware of the danger he’s flirting with. Johnny could have conveyed similar meaning with “Don’t bite off more than you can chew, boy.”
  • Rest in peace.
    This phrase is a common fixture of grave markers with which Doc warns that Johnny should beware the danger at hand and foreshadows the showdown between Doc and Johnny later in the film.
  • 1
    Let the Jew Apella believe it, not I. We used to say: Tell it to the Marines! (Originally the usual translation was: the Jew, Apella, might believe it -- but not I.)
    – Ed999
    Mar 28, 2019 at 12:24
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    The better translation (in this context) for Age quod agis is simply Concentrate -- an admonition to the Doc to keep his mind on the job and not let his attention wander. I reckon this is intended (by the Director, even if not by the actor) to be a humorous exchange.
    – Ed999
    Mar 28, 2019 at 12:33
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    Requiescat is third person, so Johnny could legitimately retort Quis? Feb 22 at 6:20

I honestly think most sources misinterpret this a bit. A more natural flow would be:

Holliday: "In vino veritas" / in drunkenness, truth

Ringo: "Age..." / Do what you do best

Holliday: "Credat..." / (allusive) Believe what you want to believe

Ringo: "Juventus..." / Youth teaches fools

Holliday: "In pace..." / RIP

The difference is Ringo here is saying, "hey stick to what you do best, drunk" and then Holliday is saying, "believe I'm just a drunk if you want." People are being too literal about the "Credat" line. "Go tell someone who'll believe you' isn't quite right; it was clearly intended to be more metaphorical than that.

  • I'd say the first line is a statement that means when people are drunk, they tend to lose inhibitions and speak exactly what's on their minds. The rest of it I completely agree with, more so than the accepted answer. Feb 16 at 16:53

Doc: In vino veritas.

Ringo: Age quod agis.

Doc: Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego.

Ringo: Eventus stultorum magister.

Doc: In pace requiescat.

In English:

Doc: In wine, truth.

Ringo: Do what you do.

Doc: Tell it to the Jew Apella, not I.

Ringo: Experience is the teacher of fools.

Doc: (Imperative) Rest in peace!

The other answers above are largely correct and valid interpretations, except note it is "Eventus", not "Iuventus".

"Events" (or experiences) are the teachers of fools, not "Youth". It's a common expression and also makes a lot more sense if you think about it. Youth? A teacher? No. Fools have to learn difficult lessons by first trying to do stupid things then realizing they are stupid from the experience.

  • Hi, welcome to Movies & TV. This is really more of a comment since it replies to another answer rather than the question. If you want to post an answer you need to fully address the question. (If you want to post an answer you should also provide evidence that the existing reading of the line is incorrect.)
    – DavidW
    Feb 16 at 16:33
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    Yes but I did not have enough "reputation points" to post a comment. Feb 16 at 16:46
  • Unfortunately the site allows only answers to questions rather than comments below a certain threshold - seems backwards to me, but I have to work within this design choice of the site operators. As to evidence, as I mentioned this is a well-known latin expression (this is "common knowledge" - if you don't believe me, simply google "stultorum magister" and see what you find) Additionally it is self-evident that "experience" rather than "youth" must be the teacher of fools. The two words, "Iuventus" and "eventus" are almost homophones so it is understandable that someone misheard it. Feb 16 at 16:56
  • But did they mishear, or did they get the wording from the script? You should try to verify your interpretation before posting.
    – DavidW
    Feb 16 at 17:01
  • Note I said, "someone" misheard. Even if it was the script writer. Interesting that I don't see you requesting others to cite their sources or "verify" their interpretation. How exactly does one "verify" an interpretation? Pause for a moment and consider which one makes more sense...youth or experience as a teacher of fools. Then please google it as I suggested to find the correct common expression. Feb 16 at 17:09

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