Final Meals, Feasts, and Words from History's Notorious and Victorious
Final Meals, Feasts, and Words from History’s Notorious and Victorious

Final Meals, Feasts, and Words from History’s Notorious and Victorious

Khalid Elhassan - August 12, 2021

Final Meals, Feasts, and Words from History’s Notorious and Victorious
Bust at the Capitoline Museum of Vespasian, who kept his humor until his final breath. Bible History

1. This Emperor’s Final Words Were Wholly in Character

Vespasian had a reputation for wit and amiability. As emperor, he seldom stood on ceremony, but cultivated a blunt and even coarse mannerism, and was given to forthright speech. He never forgot his origins, and resisted the temptation to put on airs to which most Roman emperors succumbed. One of his revenue raising schemes involved a tax on public urinals, which was widely ridiculed. His son and designated heir took him to task for that, and argued that it was beneath imperial dignity to collect revenue from bodily excreta.

In response, Vespasian held a coin beneath his son’s nose, and asked whether he could smell any urine. He concluded the lesson with the statement: “money does not smell” – which became a Latin proverb. Vespasian’s final words were in line with his character. Starting with Julius Caesar, who was declared a god after his assassination, Roman emperors who died in good repute were deified after death. When he felt the end nearing in 79 AD, Vespasian, in a final illustration of a lifelong penchant for not taking himself too seriously, joked just before he drew his last breath: “dear me, I think I am becoming a god“.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

American Battlefield Trust – The Death of John Sedgwick

Biography – Gary Gilmore

Cassius Dio – Roman History

Defoe, Daniel – A General History of the Pirates (2017 Reprint)

Dodwell, Henry – The Founder of Modern Egypt: A Study of Muhammad Ali (1931)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Hugh Latimer

First Things, a Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, No. 284, 2018, p. 33+ – Latimer and Ridley are Forgotten: Peter Hitchens Recovers a Protestant Understanding of England’s Martyrs

Gabriel, Richard – Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan’s Greatest General (2004)

Gonick, Larry – The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (2002)

History Collection – The Fart That Killed 10,000 People

International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, (Feb., 1995) – The Military Household in Ottoman Egypt

Jackson, Peter – The Mongols and the West (2005)

Morgan, Gwyn – 69 AD, the Year of the Four Emperors (2006)

Muslu, Cihan Yuksel – The Ottomans and the Mamluks: Imperial Diplomacy and Warfare in the Islamic World (2014)

Nicolaus of Damascus – Life of Augustus

Rawi, Egypt’s Heritage Review – Coffee With the Pasha: The Story of Egypt’s Most Famous Massacre

Suetonius – The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Top Tenz – Gallows Grub: Final Feasts

Wheen, Francis – Karl Marx: A Life (1999)

Wikipedia – Calico Jack

Wikipedia – Muhammad Ali’s Seizure of Power

Wikipedia – Stjepan Filipovic

Williams, John Alden, ed. – The History of Al-Tabari, Volume XXVII: The Abbasid Revolution, AD 743-750 (1985)

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