Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Morturi Te Salutant

Originally posted on October 23, 2015

“Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant!” The gladiators in the Coliseum reportedly greeted the emperor before commencing their fights: “Hail Emperor, those who are about to die salute you!”  Be afraid! Be very afraid! Hahahaha! It’s All Hallow’s Eve, a time to scare and enjoy the delicious feeling of mixing slight fear with just pretend.

We’re getting closer to Halloween, and that holiday gives us a chance to fulfill several fantasies. One is being other than we are, to dress in costume, to be sillier or sexier or whatever-er than most people know us. But it’s also a time that we become scary, some of us, and play ghosts and witches and such. Jack o’ Lanterns are really mocking skulls, or they vaguely look like them. Spiders and snakes and such. Oooh.


Halloween mocks and plays with what is taboo, which is why it’s fun. One of those taboos is dying, which brings it into the topic range. You didn’t used to be free to talk about dying, neither doctors or patients or relatives. She’s not going to die! We wanted the doctor to announce with great confidence. Save her, save her! We felt obliged to yell. No matter what the cost, save her!

This great charade was and remains so phoney baloney. People die! Get over it! I’m gonna die, you’re gonna die, he, she, it is gonna die. That’s from Latin, the conjugation of the verb. Every verb has a different ending in Latin. So to die? I die, morior; you (singular): moreris; he-she-it dies: moritur, and so forth. Whence comes the salutation at the beginning of this piece.

I’m giving a series of talks which someday maybe will be posted on my website, talks on new trends in treatment. The title of the course is “You Mean You Can Do That?” and it talks about bleeding, leeches, fecal implants, medical marijuana, etc. On 10/26 I’ll talk about those who are talking openly about dying. It used to be a taboo. My point is that it’s good to talk about preferences, what’s important, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *