One thousand nine hundred and fifty seven years ago, on June 9th 53, Emperor Nero of Rome would marry Claudia Octavia. Nine years later, on June 9th 62, Nero would have Claudia executed. Six years after Claudia’s death, on June 9th 68, Nero himself would commit suicide.
For people whom history records as being so very cavalier about murder, the means of Claudia’s was afforded significant attention. She was bound, then “her veins were opened”, then she was suffocated in “an exceedingly hot vapor bath, and finally she was beheaded.
Not to be outdone by his own handiwork Nero reportedly delivered at least four memorable sets of last words. First he quoted Virgil’s Aeneid saying: “"Is it so dreadful a thing then to die?". Later, having not died, he quoted Homer’s Iliad saying: “Hark, now strikes on my ear the trampling of swift-footed coursers!". He purportedly said, over and over, “What an artist dies in me”. Then, after a move that should have silenced him (cutting open his own throat), Epaphroditos attempted to staunch the bleeding which gave Nero the ability to utter the words: “Too late! This is fidelity!", before finally dying.