Famous last words of 17 famous people

Last words have always fascinated people.

Perhaps they hold an echo of wisdom or a biting witticism — or at least a hint about who’s getting what in the will.

And so, Business Insider put together a list of the reported last words of 17 famous historical figures.

Bob Marley, musician:

'Money can't buy life.'

Source: The Guardian

Archimedes, mathematician:

Wikimedia Commons
Archimedes painted by Domenico Fetti.

'Stand away, fellow, from my diagram!'

Archimedes was killed during the Second Punic War. According to the historian Plutarch, a soldier came up to the mathematician and told him to go with him to Marcellus.

Archimedes, however, refused to do so until he finished the problem he was working on. Enraged, the soldier killed him.

Sources: 'The Parallel Lives' by Plutarch, 'Famous Last Words' by Laura Ward

Karl Marx, philosopher:

Karl Marx in 1875.

'Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.'

Source: International Business Times

Augustus Caesar, first Roman emperor:

Virgil reading the Aeneid to Augustus and Octavia, by Jean-Joseph Taillasson, painted in 1787.

'I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you of marble.'

-- what he reportedly said to his subjects.

'Have I played the part well? Then applaud me as I exit.'

-- what he reportedly said to his friends who were with him throughout his reign.

Source: History

Leonardo da Vinci, inventor and painter:

Leonardo da Vinci's design for a flying machine, c. 1488.

'I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.'

Source: Huffington Post

Groucho Marx, comedian and film star:

Napoléon Bonaparte, French military and political leader:

Napoleon, painted by Jacques-Louis David.

'France, the army, the head of the army, Joséphine.'

Source: The Guardian

Humphrey Bogart, actor:

Wikimedia/Trailer screenshot
Humphrey Bogart in 'Casablanca.'

'I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.'

Source: International Business Times

Charles Darwin, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory:

Charles Darwin's 1837 diagram of an evolutionary tree.

'I am not the least afraid to die.'

Source: 'Famous Last Words' by Laura Ward

Marie Antoinette, queen of France:

Marie Antoinette at the Temple Tower, circa 1792-93.

'Pardon me. I didn't do it on purpose.'

She reportedly said this after accidentally stepping on her executioner's foot as she climbed the scaffold to the guillotine.

Source: 'Famous Last Words' by Alan Bisbort

Michel de Nostradamus, French apothecary and alleged soothsayer:

Wikimedia Commons

'You will not find me alive at sunrise.'

In other words, Nostradamus' last words were one last (correct) prediction.

Source: 'Immortal Last Words' by Terry Breverton

John Adams, second president of the US:

Wikimedia Commons
Official Presidential portrait of John Adams, circa 1792-93.

'Thomas Jefferson survives.'

Adams and Thomas Jefferson started out as rivals, but they became friends later in life. As Adams lay on his deathbed, on July 4, he reportedly noted that his former nemesis was still alive.

However, Jefferson had actually died some hours earlier -- also on July 4.

Source: History

James Brown, singer and songwriter:

James Brown performing in 1973.

'I'm going away tonight.'

Source: The Guardian

Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman:

A photograph of Henry Ford, Thomas Alva Edison, and Harvey Samuel Firestone, 1929.

'It is very beautiful out there.'

Right before his death, Edison came out of a coma, opened his eyes, and reportedly said the above quote to his wife. He was likely referring to the view outside his window.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, 'Famous Last Words' by Laura Ward

Raphael, painter from the Italian Renaissance:

Detail from Raphael's Sistine Madonna.

'Happy -- '

A close friend of Raphael's, Cardinal Bibbiena, wrote in a letter to his niece that Raphael woke up, looked around, and then asked 'Whence comes the sunshine?' He appeared not to hear what his friends said when they spoke to him, and then uttered 'Happy...' -- but did not finish the sentence.

Source: 'The Last Words (Real and Traditional) of Distinguished Men and Women' by Frederic Rowland Marvin.

Ludwig van Beethoven, composer and pianist:

Public domain

There are a variety of reports regarding Beethoven's last words. Some say the composer, who was deaf by the end of his life, said:

'I will hear in heaven'

while others suggest he said:

'Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est' (Applaud, friends, the comedy is finished)

But still others say that after a publisher brought the composer 12 bottles of wine, his final words were:

'Pity, pity, too late!'

Sources: 'The Creative Circle' by Michael Fitzgerald, 'Beethoven: The Man Revealed' by John Suchet, Classic FM

Leonard Nimoy, actor:

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures
Leonard Nimoy and wife Susan Bay.

'A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.'

Technically, this was Leonard Nimoy's last tweet, so they may not be his actual last words.

LLAP is short for 'Live long and prosper,' a saying made famous by Nimoy's 'Star Trek' character Mr. Spock.

Source: Twitter

And now check out ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin as a young child in Russia in the 1950s.

What 25 major world leaders and dictators looked like when they were young

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.