But in this last act, where death and ourselves each play there part, there must be no more pretending: we must speak plainly, and disclose what there is of good and clean at the bottom of the pot.
– Montaigne (Essays,
‘That we should not judge of our happiness till after death’)
It is not surprising that Montaigne begins this essay with Herodotus, but the emphasis he places on sincerity – on honest assessment of one’s life, abilities, and accomplishments – is interesting; so, too, the notion suitable to a warlike age that one can in some way make amends for one’s life by dying well (cf. ‘Nothing in his life // Became him like the leaving it’).