Nuper in ludo bestiariorum unus e Germanis, cum ad matutina spectacula pararetur, secessit ad exonerandum corpus; nullum aliud illi dabatur sine custode secretum. ibi lignum id quod ad emundanda obscena adhaerente spongia positum est, totum in gulam farsit et interclusis faucibus spiritum elisit. hoc fuit morti contumeliam facere. ita prorsus; parum munde et parum decenter; quid est stultius quam fastidiose mori? o virum fortem, o dignum cui fati daretur electio! quam fortiter ille gladio usus esset, quam animose in profundam se altitudinem maris aut abscisae rupis immisisset! undique destitutus invenit quemadmodum et mortem sibi deberet et telum, ut scias ad moriendum nihil aliud in mora esse quam velle. existimetur de facto hominis acerrimi, ut cuique visum erit, dum hoc constet, praeferendam esse spurcissimam mortem servituti mundissimae.
(Seneca Minor, Ep. ad Luc. 70.20-21)
Recently at the wild-animal games, one of the Germans went off to the latrine during the preparations for the morning show—it was the only private moment he had without a guard—and there took the stick with a sponge attached that is put there for cleaning the unmentionables and stuffed the entire thing down his throat, closing off his airway. That was indeed offering insult to death. He went right ahead, unsanitary and indecent as it was: how stupid to be fussy about one’s way of dying! What a brave man! He was worthy to be granted a choice in his fate. How boldly he would have used a sword; how courageously he would have thrown himself over some jagged cliff, or into the depths of the sea! With no resources from anywhere, he still found a way to provide his own death, his own weapon. From this you may know that there is but one thing that can delay our dying: the willingess. Each of us may decide for himself as to the merits of this ferocious man’s deed—so long as we all agree that death, even the most disgusting, is preferable to slavery, even the cleanest slavery. (tr. Margaret Graver & Anthony A. Long)