Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Last Words.

lt will be remembered that the Emperor Augustus, that terrible man, who had as much self control and could be silent as well as any wise Socrates, became indiscreet about himself in his last words; for the first time he let his mask fall, when he gave to understand that he had carried a mask and played a comedy, he had played the father of his country and wisdom on the throne well, even to the point of illusion!  Plaudite amid, comoedia finita est!  The thought of the dying Nero: qualis areifex pereo!  Was also the thought of the dying Augustus: an actor’s vanity, an actor’s garrulousness!  And the very counterpart to the dying Socrates!  But Tiberius died silently, that most tortured of all self-torturers, he was genuine and not a stage player!  What may have passed through his head in the end!  Perhaps this: "Life is a long death.  I am a fool, who shortened the lives of so many!  Was I created for the purpose of being a benefactor?  I should have given them eternal life: and then I could have seen them dying eternally.  I had such good eyes for that: qualis spectator pereo!  "When he seemed once more to regain his powers after a long death struggle, it was considered advisable to smother him with pillows, he died a double death.  

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