Many of the ‘‘last words”, allegedly left by the great men and women of the human history, were actually never said.
Who Was He: German writer and politician
”More light!”(”Mehr licht!”)
Throughout his life, Johann Wolfgang Goethe was often fascinated by the physical and philosophical effects of the light on human beings. This may lead us to believing, that it was a last plea for a greater enlightenment before his death, however, these alleged last words of Goethe, were a result of misinpretation. Moments before his death, Goethe actually said: ”Please open the second window of the bedroom so that more light can enter.”
Gaius Julius Caesar
Who Was He: Roman general, statesman and consul
“And you too, Brutus?”(”Et tu, Brute?”)
Although this sounds as the perfect dramatic thing Julius Caesar could say moments before his brutal death, the truth appears to be more prosaic. According to historical evidence, he never said these famous last words at the moment of his assassination.
Ancient Roman historian Plutarch reports, that Caesar didn’t say anything and just pulled his toga over his head when he saw Marcus Brutus in the group of conspirators. Fame of this alleged Caesar’s quote is mostly attributed to its occurrence in the theatrical play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, written in 1599.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
Who Was He: Roman Emperor
“What an great artist the world loses in me!”(Qualis artifex pereo!)
Emperor Nero, who lived during the Imperial era of the ancient Rome, indeed considered himself a great artist. Apparently for that were these last words attributed to Nero by ancient Roman historian Suetonius.
In reality, Nero, when he was finally found by the Praetorians in the puddle of his own blood, had already slashed his trachea, and was so weakened by his unsuccesful suicide attempt, that he probably managed only to incoherent babbling sounds.
In addition, according to numerous writings by his biographers, his alleged last words were not “What an great artist the world loses in me!”, but instead ”What a fidelity!”, after one of the centurions removed the dagger from his wound, and tried to stop bleeding with his tunic. Nero didn’t know, that the centurion had been ordered to bring him to the jury alive.
Frederick the Great
Who Was He: King of Prussia, known for his great military achievements
”I am tired of ruling over slaves”(Ich bin es müde, über Sklaven zu herrschen. )
These alleged last words of the Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia, were likely taken from his letter adressed to Count von Golz in Königsberg, in which Frederick demanded, that ”Peasants who settle on the newly dried swamplands, must be sole owners of all their property, they must not be people in servitude or subjugation.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Who Was He: German philosopher, one of the founders of German Idealism.
“Only one of my students has ever understood me… and even he got it wrong.”
According to contemporary sources, these were the last words of great German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The ”student” mentioned was allegedly Johann Philipp Gabler(1786-1853). These words, which perfectly describe the nature of Hegel’s philosophy, were probably made up later by his followers. His wife, only person who was with Hegel during his last hours, never mentioned any of these words being said by her dying husband.
Who Was He: Welsh poet and writer
“I’ve had 18 straight whiskies. I think that’s the record!”
Famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas reportedly said these words. However, according to available witnesses, he didn’t say them at the day of his death, but right after he returned from his last drinking spree in Hotel Chelsea, New York. He died few weeks later, as a direct result of his long-term alcohol abuse.