English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As in these Rome - To Die Among Strangers lyrics:

the whores of rome and the kings of france

have tried to brave my fire

now the snakes curl up, the curtains part

will you try to brave my fire?


keep your treason brittle as glass

you could have been the first

could have been the last to brave my fire

[Full text][1]

I checked all the different meanings of brave in dictionary.com, but this sentence still hardly makes any sense to me... I can only guess.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Fire is being used as a metaphor for wrath or anger I think.

Brave my fire in this context means tempt my anger.

To put it in more colloquial terms he's saying "Come on if you think you are hard enough" do you dare to face my wrath.

I guess it could also mean passion so intense that it will burn you.

It's all poetic imagery really.

If you think about it one has to be pretty brave to stick their hand (for example) in an open flame, the flame here however is not an actual flame but it represents something else, probably some form of retribution.

share|improve this answer
Yeah, I think this is just wrong. Peter Taylor's is right. – Malvolio Mar 11 '11 at 3:02

I would interpret "fire" here in the sense of projectiles and "brave" in meaning 7 from dictionary.com: "to meet or face courageously". A soldier who charges at an enemy who is shooting at him is braving the enemy's fire.

share|improve this answer
"Fire" is a pretty standard term for operating a projectile weapon, so I definitely would go with this interpretation over the accepted answer. – jhocking Apr 21 '11 at 17:00

"Brave" has a very long story.

The original root is from Greek "βάρβαρος" (barbaros). Βάρβαροι were the people whose language was unintelligible (Βάρβαροs is a well known example of Greek word of onomatopoeic origin) since all you could apparently grab was "bar-bar".
Although it obviously had a pejorative connotation, the main meaning however was simply "foreigner" (as in "non-Greek" of course).

Imported in Latin, the noun barbarus retained this meaning of "foreigner" (although remarkably for the Romans the Greeks were the only "non barbaric" foreigners ;-). In Late Latin however, the adjective, now contracted to "brabus", had the meanings of "savage", "courageous", "indomitable".

Studies about phonetic evolution from Late Latin to Medieval Italian have well documented1 how the plosive 'b' in intervocalic position nearly always evolved into a labiodental fricative 'v', caballum => cavallo (horse) and how the final "us" evolved into "o" (marius => mario, marcus => marco...).

Following these rules "brabus" evolved into "bravo".

In 14th century Italian, it then came to mean "flamboyant", "well dressed" or even "arrogant" as an adjective as well as "mercenary"2 as a noun.

However in modern Italian the meaning is "good at things" (Questo ragazzo è molto bravo in informatica).

During the Renaissance, French kings were obsessed with the conquest of Italy and their armies met the Italian armies on many occasions. When Italian soldiers were showing off in front of the enemy they companions would cheer "Bravo !!!" and congratulate each other.
So that the French interpreted the "Bravo" interjection in many ways: "noble", "courageous", "handsome", "arrogant". Eventually, only the main meaning of "fearless on the battlefield" remained3. Hence the French "bravoure".

One way soldiers would demonstrate "bravoure" in front of their fellow countrymen would be to expose their bare chest to the enemy line, daring them to fire.

Which in my view explains the metaphor "brave my fire" as Peter Taylor has rightly pointed out in his answer.


1: József Herman, Le Latin Vulgaire, 1967 - English Translation Roger Wright, Vulgar Latin, 1997.
2: Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue Française (Robert, 1993).
3: Of course we also interject "Bravo !" to express our admiration, even to female artists to the great surprise of Italians who would rather expect "Brava !".

share|improve this answer
in Argentina to this day, calling someone "bravo" means something like "bad-ass" – Dan Jan 29 '12 at 15:55
@Dan, that's close to the standard Spanish meaning of angry. And the etymology is probably the same. – Alain Pannetier Φ Jan 29 '12 at 18:34

It means, more or less, to "face my intensity".

share|improve this answer

This is something like to keep my fire alive and burning lighter. Like to through some logs or brushwood. Of course in this case there is not real fire. But some kind of internal one.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.