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Last words or final words are a person's final articulated words, stated prior to death or as death approaches. Last words may not necessarily be written down or accurately recorded, and they may not be quoted accurately for a variety of reasons.
Famous last words include both the literal utterings; such as the sayings of Jesus on the cross, from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar "Et tu, Brute?", and the ironical sense of words said before a disaster, such as:
- "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!" General John Sedgwick at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House immediately before being killed by enemy fire.
- "Let all brave Prussians follow me!" Field Marshal Kurt Christoph Graf von Schwerin at the Battle of Prague, immediately before getting hit in the head by a cannonball.
- "Don't worry about it ... look, the clip is not even in it." Terry Kath of the band Chicago, just before putting a pistol to his temple and pulling the trigger.
The last words reported to have been uttered by a person revered as a martyr or hero of a religious, nationalist, or revolutionary movement often gain a political significance and are extensively quoted in later literature and/or used as a slogan. However, in many such cases their historical authenticity is doubted.
- Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. vol. 3, Red River to Appomattox. New York: Random House, 1974. ISBN 0-394-74913-8. p. 203.
- Percy, S. (1856). The Percy Anecdotes: Revised edition... New York City, NY: Harper & Brothers. p. 88.
- Reiff, Corbin (May 11, 2013). "Forgotten Heroes: Terry Kath". Premier Guitar. Retrieved June 6, 2014.