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How did Titus die? Do we have any historical sources that are less fanciful than the Babylonian Talmud, quoted below? Are there any other records of his symptoms prior to death?

According to the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 56b), an insect flew into Titus's nose and picked at his brain for seven years. He noticed that the sound of a blacksmith hammering caused the ensuing pain to abate, so he paid for blacksmiths to hammer near him; however, the effect wore off and the insect resumed its gnawing. When he died, they opened his skull and found the insect had grown to the size of a bird. The Talmud gives this as the cause of his death and interprets it as divine retribution for his wicked actions.


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This question appears to be off-topic because it is impossible to answer historically. – Samuel Russell Oct 3 '13 at 4:23
Although the story is sometimes interpreted like Titus having a brain tumour, this contradicts other sources closer to the actual events, and the rest of the story is obviously fictional, like claims that the bird found in the brain had a beak of brass and claws of iron. It's also claimed that his nephew raised Titus from the dead. All in all this clearly shows that this passage is not documenting an historical event. – Lennart Regebro Oct 3 '13 at 5:47
@LennartRegebro I am curious about the nephew angle - can you please provide a referebce? – Felix Goldberg Oct 3 '13 at 6:52
I vote to reopen, having done a bit of editing. I think it's actually a good question - we have a literary account and are wondering if it is the echo of some real event, however distorted. If the rest of the story is fictional, this does not mean the story is not based on actual events. If it can be shown that it is not, it'd be nice to have a proper answer with references that spells out why. – Felix Goldberg Oct 3 '13 at 6:58
I voted to reopen, as per FelixGoldberg's post edit comment. This a now good and interesting question. – user2590 Oct 4 '13 at 7:28

He could have had an advanced vestibular schwanoma which can both cause tinnitus and press against the hypothalmus resulting in an elevated body temperature.

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OK, this is speculation, but maybe in this case that's allowed. But even so some references to this would be nice. – Lennart Regebro Feb 15 '14 at 5:00
I'm not saying he did, all I'm saying is dying of a fever and having a brain tumor are not contradictory. – Clint Eastwood Feb 16 '14 at 4:01
Even so, some references to support this speculation is IMO required. – Lennart Regebro Feb 16 '14 at 7:21

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