The Manliest Last Words From Men As They Faced Death, Vol. 2
Photo: Paramount Pictures
This is the second volume in our collection of the manliest last words — some heroic, some humorous. If you’ve ever thought about how you’d like to depart from this ball of dirt, take a lesson from the following fearless men.
Context: In 43 BC, the greatest orator of the late Roman Republic was placed on the enemy of the state list. Mark Antony’s political faction within Caesar’s empire despised Cicero’s brilliance as an influential spokesperson for the Senate. On December 7, Cicero was captured and bowed his head in a noble, gladiatorial gesture. They then cut off his head and hands and displayed them in a public plaza. Things were a lot different back then.
Context: Michel Ney was a marshal who led numerous battles on behalf of Napoleon of France. After Napoleon was defeated and dethroned in the summer of 1815, Ney was tried for treason and arrested. His lawyer tried to convince the court that he was Prussian by birth, exempting him from French law. Ney interrupted his lawyer during the proceedings by claiming loud and proud, “I am French and I will remain French.” Along with Michel Ney died France’s reputation for bravery.
Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras
Context: Favras was a French aristocrat who was accused of high treason during the French Revolution. On February 18, 1790, he was sentenced to death. When a clerk handed him his death warrant, Favras read it and handed it back to the clerk, replying with these final words. He is now remembered as a pioneer in Grammar Nazism.
Context: Georges Danton was an esteemed lawyer and prominent figure during the French Revolution. Historians describe him as a “chief force in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the First French Republic,” but his detractors thought he was too soft and lenient. He was sentenced to the guillotine by advocates for revolutionary terror. The 35-year-old Danton went out in a blaze of cheeky narcissism on March 30, 1794.
Lawrence of Rome
Context: Lawrence of Rome was one of the seven deacons under Pope Sixtus II. He was assigned with the task of distributing material goods from the Church to the poor. The prefect of Rome, who was a greedy pagan bastard, had other plans. The prefect believed there was hidden treasure in Rome, and he ordered St. Lawrence to bring it to him. Lawrence came back with dozens of impoverished, sick Romans and said, “This is the Church’s treasure!” The prefect placed Lawrence on a gridiron stove and burned him to death. Once sufficiently fried on one side of his body, St. Lawrence declared these final words in an act of rebellious love, dying on August 10, 258 AD.
Context: Shakespeare said life is a stage. And Augustus Caesar was perhaps the greatest actor. He is noted for restoring peace and creating an environment for the economy, arts and agriculture to flourish in Rome. Though some historians say his last words were, “I found Rome a city of clay but left it a city of marble,” the popular consensus goes with these humble last words.
Context: The famous German philosopher, economist, socialist and part-time venture capitalist uttered these final words before succumbing to bronchitis and pleurisy. He said this to his housekeeper, whom he paid.
Context: The man whose whiskey is the most popular in all the world died from an infected toe, which could’ve been cured by cleansing it with Jack Daniel’s whiskey. As recently as 2006, these final words were used as a slogan in a London advertisement.
Context: An American hero whose balls were rumored to be the size of coconuts, Todd Beamer was a passenger on the ill-fated flight United 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field going 580 miles per hour. After hijackers killed the pilots and herded the passengers to the back of the plane, Beamer and cohorts organized a plot to take back the plane. He spoke these last words after reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm with GTE airphone supervisor Lisa Jefferson.
Context: Edward Rulloff was an influential philologist and murderer whose brain is the second-largest brain on record. He wrote definitive books on the origins of language until he beat his wife and daughter to death. Before his public hanging in New York in 1871, he added a touch of gallows humor on the gallows.
Context: In August 1942, while stationed on the British Solomon Islands during WW2, Private First Class Edward Ahrens was discovered clutching a sword with 13 dead Japanese surrounding him. In the middle of the night, enemy soldiers tried to infiltrate a military compound he was guarding. He died from his wounds, but single-handedly thwarted Japanese advances. Previous to stating this, Ahrens said, “The bastards tried to come over me last night.”