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How many ways of surprising us Death has!

Quid quisque vitet, nunquam homini satis
Cautum est in horas.[1]

I say nothing of fevers and pleurisies. Who would ever have thought that a duke of Bretaigne would be stifled by the crowd, as he was at the entry into Lyons of Pope Clement, my neighbour?[2] Have you not known of one of our kings killed while jousting?[3] and did not one of his ancestors die from being jostled by a hog?[4] To no purpose did Æschylus, when threatened with the fall of a house, remain out-of- doors;[5] lo, he was killed by a tortoise-shell that fell from the claws of an eagle in the air.[6] Another died from a grapeseed;[7] an emperor from the scratch of a comb in dressing his hair; Æmilius Lepidus from stumbling over his threshold, and Aufidius from hitting against the door of the council chamber as he went in.[8] And while lying with women, Cornelius Gallus, prætor; Tigillinus, captain of the watch at Rome; Ludovic, son of Guy de Gonzague, Marquis of Mantua; and, of even worse example, Speusippus the Platonic philosopher, and one of our popes.[9] Poor Bebius, a judge,

  1. What is to be avoided from hour to hour, man never sufficiently foresees. — Horace, Odes, II, 13.13.
  2. This was Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux, Pope from 1305 to 1314, under the name of Clement V. Montaigne jestingly calls him “my neighbour” because he was of Bordeaux. The Duc de Bretaigne was Jean II, died 1305. Montaigne took this from Les diverses leçons of Pierre de Messie, translated from the Spanish in 1552 by Claude Gruget. The original work was published ten years earlier.
  3. Henri II, in 1559.
  4. Philippe, son of Louis le Gros; his horse was frightened by a hog. See Jean Bouchet, Annales d’Aquitaine.
  5. A l’airre (1580-1588); à l’airte (Éd. Mun.). This phrase was borrowed from the Italian all’erte (on the height), and was used in the sense that Montaigne gives it, by Baïf and others.
  6. This legend came originally from Valerius Maximus, IX, 12, ext. 2; but Montaigne apparently took it from the Officina of Ravisius Textor, one of the “compilations” of his time.
  7. Anacreon. See Valerius Maximus, IX, 12, ext. 8.
  8. These last three instances are taken from Pliny, Natural History, VII, 33 and 53.
  9. John XXII. The names of these five, and the manner of their deaths, are taken from Ravisius Textor, Officina.