The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini

Part 2 out of 9

the world; and though she declared she was madly in love with me, I
remained steadfast in my loyalty. But after they had gone to bed, I
stole away the little serving-girl, who was quite a fresh maid, and woe
to her if her mistress had known of it! The result was that I enjoyed a
very pleasant night, far more to my satisfaction than if I had passed it
with Faustina. I rose upon the hour of breaking fast, and felt tired,
for I had travelled many miles that night, and was wanting to take food,
when a crushing headache seized me; several boils appeared on my left
arm, together with a carbuncle which showed itself just beyond the palm
of the left hand where it joins the wrist. Everybody in the house was in
a panic; my friend, the cow and the calf, all fled. Left alone there
with my poor little prentice, who refused to abandon me, I felt stifled
at the heart, and made up my mind for certain I was a dead man.

Just then the father of the lad went by, who was physician to the
Cardinal Iacoacci, [1] and lived as member of that prelate’s household.
[2] The boy called out: “Come, father, and see Benvenuto; he is in bed
with some trifling indisposition.” Without thinking what my complaint
might be, the doctor came up at once, and when he had felt my pulse, he
saw and felt what was very contrary to his own wishes. Turning round to
his son, he said: “O traitor of a child, you’ve ruined me; how can I
venture now into the Cardinal’s presence?” His son made answer: “Why,
father, this man my master is worth far more than all the cardinals in
Rome.” Then the doctor turned to me and said: “Since I am here, I will
consent to treat you. But of one thing only I warn you, that if you have
enjoyed a woman, you are doomed.” To this I replied: “I did so this very
night.” He answered: “With whom, and to what extent?” [3] I said: “Last
night, and with a girl in her earliest maturity.” Upon this, perceiving
that he had spoken foolishly, he made haste to add: “Well, considering
the sores are so new, and have not yet begun to stink, and that the
remedies will be taken in time, you need not be too much afraid, for I
have good hopes of curing you.” When he had prescribed for me and gone
away, a very dear friend of mine, called Giovanni Rigogli, came in, who
fell to commiserating my great suffering and also my desertion by my
comrade, and said: “Be of good cheer, my Benvenuto, for I will never
leave your side until I see you restored to health.” I told him not to
come too close, since it was all over with me. Only I besought him to be
so kind as to take a considerable quantity of crowns, which were lying
in a little box near my bed, and when God had thought fit to remove me
from this world, to send them to my poor father, writing pleasantly to
him, in the way I too had done, so far as that appalling season of the
plague permitted. [4] My beloved friend declared that he had no
intention whatsoever of leaving me, and that come what might, in life or
death, he knew very well what was his duty toward a friend. And so we
went on by the help of God: and the admirable remedies which I had used
began to work a great improvement, and I soon came well out of that
dreadful sickness.

The sore was still open, with a plug of lint inside it and a plaster
above, when I went out riding on a little wild pony. He was covered with
hair four fingers long, and was exactly as big as a well-grown bear;
indeed he looked just like a bear. I rode out on him to visit the
painter Rosso, who was then living in the country, toward Civita
Vecchia, at a place of Count Anguillara’s called Cervetera. I found my
friend, and he was very glad to see me; whereupon I said: “I am come to
do to you that which you did to me so many months ago.” He burst out
laughing, embraced and kissed me, and begged me for the Count’s sake to
keep quiet. I stayed in that place about a month, with much content and
gladness, enjoying good wines and excellent food, and treated with the
greatest kindness by the Count; every day I used to ride out alone along
the seashore, where I dismounted, and filled my pockets with all sorts
of pebbles, snail shells, and sea shells of great rarity and beauty.

On the last day (for after this I went there no more) I was attacked by
a band of men, who had disguised themselves, and disembarked from a
Moorish privateer. When they thought that they had run me into a certain
passage, where it seemed impossible that I should escape from their
hands, I suddenly mounted my pony, resolved to be roasted or boiled
alive at that pass perilous, seeing I had little hope to evade one or
the other of these fates; [5] but, as God willed, my pony, who was the
same I have described above, took an incredibly wide jump, and brought
me off in safety, for which I heartily thanked God. I told the story to
the Count; he ran to arms; but we saw the galleys setting out to sea.
The next day following I went back sound and with good cheer to Rome.

Note 1. Probably Domenico Iacobacci, who obtained the hat in 1517.

Note 2. 'A sua provisione stava, i. e.,' he was in the Cardinal’s
regular pay.

Note 3. 'Quanto.' Perhaps we ought to read 'quando-when?'

Note 4. 'Come ancora io avevo fatto secondo l’usanza che promettava
quell’ arrabbiata stagione.' I am not sure that I have given the right
sense in the text above. Leclanché interprets the words thus: “that I
too had fared according to the wont of that appalling season,” 'i. e.,'
had died of the plague. But I think the version in my sense is more true
both to Italian and to Cellini’s special style.

Note 5. 'I. e.,' to escape either being drowned or shot.


THE PLAGUE had by this time almost died out, so that the survivors, when
they met together alive, rejoiced with much delight in one another’s
company. This led to the formation of a club of painters, sculptors, and
goldsmiths, the best that were in Rome; and the founder of it was a
sculptor with the name of Michel Agnolo. [1] He was a Sienese and a man
of great ability, who could hold his own against any other workman in
that art; but, above all, he was the most amusing comrade and the
heartiest good fellow in the universe. Of all the members of the club,
he was the eldest, and yet the youngest from the strength and vigour of
his body. We often came together; at the very least twice a week. I must
not omit to mention that our society counted Giulio Romano, the painter,
and Gian Francesco, both of them celebrated pupils of the mighty
Raffaello da Urbino.

After many and many merry meetings, it seemed good to our worthy
president that for the following Sunday we should repair to supper in
his house, and that each one of us should be obliged to bring with him
his crow (such was the nickname Michel Agnolo gave to women in the
club), and that whoso did not bring one should be sconced by paying a
supper to the whole company. Those of us who had no familiarity with
women of the town, were forced to purvey themselves at no small trouble
and expense, in order to appear without disgrace at that distinguished
feast of artists. I had reckoned upon being well provided with a young
woman of considerable beauty, called Pantasilea, who was very much in
love with me; but I was obliged to give her up to one of my dearest
friends, called Il Bachiacca, who on his side had been, and still was,
over head and ears in love with her. [2] This exchange excited a certain
amount of lover’s anger, because the lady, seeing I had abandoned her at
Bachiacca’s first entreaty, imagined that I held in slight esteem the
great affection which she bore me. In course of time a very serious
incident grew out of this misunderstanding, through her desire to take
revenge for the affront I had put upon her; whereof I shall speak
hereafter in the proper place.

Well, then, the hour was drawing nigh when we had to present ourselves
before that company of men of genius, each with his own crow; and I was
still unprovided; and yet I thought it would be stupid to fail of such a
madcap bagatelle; [3] but what particularly weighed upon my mind was
that I did not choose to lend the light of my countenance in that
illustrious sphere to some miserable plume-plucked scarecrow. All these
considerations made me devise a pleasant trick, for the increase of
merriment and the diffusion of mirth in our society.

Having taken this resolve, I sent for a stripling of sixteen years, who
lived in the next house to mine; he was the son of a Spanish
coppersmith. This young man gave his time to Latin studies, and was very
diligent in their pursuit. He bore the name of Diego, had a handsome
figure, and a complexion of marvellous brilliancy; the outlines of his
head and face were far more beautiful than those of the antique
Antinous: I had often copied them, gaining thereby much honour from the
works in which I used them. The youth had no acquaintances, and was
therefore quite unknown; dressed very ill and negligently; all his
affections being set upon those wonderful studies of his. After bringing
him to my house, I begged him to let me array him in the woman’s clothes
which I had caused to be laid out. He readily complied, and put them on
at once, while I added new beauties to the beauty of his face by the
elaborate and studied way in which I dressed his hair. In his ears I
placed two little rings, set with two large and fair pearls; the rings
were broken; they only clipped his ears, which looked as though they had
been pierced. Afterwards I wreathed his throat with chains of gold and
rich jewels, and ornamented his fair hands with rings. Then I took him
in a pleasant manner by one ear, and drew him before a great
looking-glass. The lad, when he beheld himself, cried out with a burst
of enthusiasm: “Heavens! is that Diego?” I said: “That is Diego, from
whom until this day I never asked for any kind of favour; but now I only
beseech Diego to do me pleasure in one harmless thing; and it is this-I
want him to come in those very clothes to supper with the company of
artists whereof he has often heard me speak.” The young man, who was
honest, virtuous, and wise, checked his enthusiasm, bent his eyes to the
ground, and stood for a short while in silence. Then with a sudden move
he lifted up his face and said: “With Benvenuto I will go; now let us

I wrapped his head in a large kind of napkin, which is called in Rome a
summer-cloth; and when we reached the place of meeting, the company had
already assembled, and everybody came forward to greet me. Michel Agnolo
had placed himself between Giulio and Giovan Francesco. I lifted the
veil from the head of my beauty; and then Michel Agnolo, who, as I have
already said, was the most humorous and amusing fellow in the world,
laid his two hands, the one on Giulio’s and the other on Gian
Francesco’s shoulders, and pulling them with all his force, made them
bow down, while he, on his knees upon the floor, cried out for mercy,
and called to all the folk in words like these: “Behold ye of what sort
are the angels of paradise! for though they are called angels, here
shall ye see that they are not all of the male gender.” Then with a loud
voice he added:

“Angel beauteous, angel best,

Save me thou, make thou me blest.”

Upon this my charming creature laughed, and lifted the right hand and
gave him a papal benediction, with many pleasant words to boot. So
Michel Agnolo stood up, and said it was the custom to kiss the feet of
the Pope and the cheeks of angels; and having done the latter to Diego,
the boy blushed deeply, which immensely enhanced his beauty.

When this reception was over, we found the whole room full of sonnets,
which every man of us had made and sent to Michel Agnolo, My lad began
to read them, and read them all aloud so gracefully, that his infinite
charms were heightened beyond the powers of language to describe. Then
followed conversation and witty sayings, on which I will not enlarge,
for that is not my business; only one clever word must be mentioned, for
it was spoken by that admirable painter Giulio, who, looking round with
meaning [4] in his eyes on the bystanders, and fixing them particularly
upon the women, turned to Michel Agnolo and said: “My dear Michel
Agnolo, your nickname of crow very well suits those ladies to-day,
though I vow they are somewhat less fair than crows by the side of one
of the most lovely peacocks which fancy could have painted”

When the banquet was served and ready, and we were going to sit down to
table, Giulio asked leave to be allowed to place us. This being granted,
he took the women by the hand, and arranged them all upon the inner
side, with my fair in the centre; then he placed all the men on the
outside and me in the middle, saying there was no honour too great for
my deserts.; As a background to the women, there was spread an espalier
of natural jasmines in full beauty, [5] which set off their charms, and
especially Diego’s, to such great advantage, that words would fail to
describe the effect. Then we all of us fell to enjoying the abundance of
our host’s well-furnished table. The supper was followed by a short
concert of delightful music, voices joining in harmony with instruments;
and forasmuch as they were singing and playing from the book, my beauty
begged to be allowed to sing his part. He performed the music better
than almost all the rest, which so astonished the company that Giulio
and Michel Agnolo dropped their earlier tone of banter, exchanging it
for well-weighed terms of sober heartfelt admiration.

After the music was over, a certain Aurelio Ascolano, [6]remarkable for
his gift as an improvisatory poet, began to extol the women in choice
phrases of exquisite compliment. While he was chanting, the two girls
who had my beauty between them never left off chattering. One of them
related how she had gone wrong; the other asked mine how it had happened
with her, and who were her friends, and how long she had been settled in
Rome, and many other questions of the kind. It is true that, if I chose
to describe such laughable episodes, I could relate several odd things
which then occurred through Pantasilea’s jealousy on my account; but
since they form no part of my design, I pass them briefly over. At last
the conversation of those loose women vexed my beauty, whom we had
christened Pomona for the nonce; and Pomona, wanting to escape from
their silly talk, turned restlessly upon her chair, first to one side
and then to the other. The female brought by Giulio asked whether she
felt indisposed. Pomona answered, yes, she thought she was a month or so
with a child; this gave them the opportunity of feeling her body and
discovering the real sex of the supposed woman. Thereupon they quickly
withdrew their hands and rose from table, uttering such gibing words as
are commonly addressed to young men of eminent beauty. The whole room
rang with laughter and astonishment, in the midst of which Michel
Agnolo, assuming a fierce aspect, called out for leave to inflict on me
the penance he thought fit. When this was granted, he lifted me aloft
amid the clamour of the company, crying: “Long live the gentleman! long
live the gentleman!” and added that this was the punishment I deserved
for having played so fine a trick. Thus ended that most agreeable
supper-party, and each of us returned to his own dwelling at the close
of day.

Note 1. This sculptor came to Rome with his compatriot Baldassare
Peruzzi, and was employed upon the monument of Pope Adrian VI., which he
executed with some help from Tribolo.

Note 2. There were two artists at this epoch surnamed Bachiacca, the
twin sons of Ubertino Verdi, called respectively Francesco and Antonio.
Francesco was an excellent painter of miniature oil-pictures; Antonio
the first embroiderer of his age. The one alluded to here is probably

Note 3. 'Mancare di una sìpazza cosa.' The 'pazza cosa' may be the
supper-party or the 'cornacchia.'

Note 4. 'Virtuosamente.' Cellini uses the word 'virtuoso' in many
senses, but always more with reference to intellectual than moral
qualities. It denotes genius, artistic ability, masculine force, &c.

Note 5. 'Un tessuto di gelsumini naturali e bellissimi. Tessuto' is
properly something woven, a fabric; and I am not sure whether Cellini
does not mean that the ladies had behind their backs a tapestry
representing jasmines in a natural manner.

Note 6. Probably Eurialo d’Ascoli, a friend of Caro, Molza, Aretino.


IT would take too long to describe in detail all the many and divers
pieces of work which I executed for a great variety of men. At present I
need only say that I devoted myself with sustained diligence and
industry to acquiring mastery in the several branches of art which I
enumerated a short while back. And so I went on labouring incessantly at
all of them; but since no opportunity has presented itself as yet for
describing my most notable performances, I shall wait to report them in
their proper place before very long. The Sienese sculptor, Michel
Agnolo, of whom I have recently been speaking, was at that time making
the monument of the late Pope Adrian. Giulio Romano went to paint for
the Marquis of Mantua. The other members of the club betook themselves
in different directions, each to his own business; so that our company
of artists was well-nigh altogether broken up.

About this time there fell into my hands some little Turkish poniards;
the handle as well as the blade of these daggers was made of iron, and
so too was the sheath. They were engraved by means of iron implements
with foliage in the most exquisite Turkish style, very neatly filled in
with gold. The sight of them stirred in me a great desire to try my own
skill in that branch, so different from the others which I practiced;
and finding that I succeeded to my satisfaction, I executed several
pieces. Mine were far more beautiful and more durable than the Turkish,
and this for divers reasons. One was that I cut my grooves much deeper
and with wider trenches in the steel; for this is not usual in Turkish
work. Another was that the Turkish arabesques are only composed of arum
leaves a few small sunflowers; [1] and though these have a certain
grace, they do not yield so lasting a pleasure as the patterns which we
use. It is true that in Italy we have several different ways of
designing foliage; the Lombards, for example, construct very beautiful
patterns by copying the leaves of briony and ivy in exquisite curves,
which are extremely agreeable to the eye; the Tuscans and the Romans
make a better choice, because they imitate the leaves of the acanthus,
commonly called bear’s-foot, with its stalks and flowers, curling in
divers wavy lines; and into these arabesques one may excellently well
insert the figures of little birds and different animals, by which the
good taste of the artist is displayed. Some hints for creatures of this
sort can be observed in nature among the wild flowers, as, for instance,
in snap-dragons and some few other plants, which must be combined and
developed with the help of fanciful imaginings by clever draughtsmen.
Such arabesques are called grotesques by the ignorant. They have
obtained this name of grotesques among the moderns through being found
in certain subterranean caverns in Rome by students of antiquity; which
caverns were formerly chambers, hot-baths, cabinets for study, halls,
and apartments of like nature. The curious discovering them in such
places (since the level of the ground has gradually been raised while
they have remained below, and since in Rome these vaulted rooms are
commonly called grottoes), it has followed that the word grotesque is
applied to the patterns I have mentioned. But this is not the right term
for them, inasmuch as the ancients, who delighted in composing monsters
out of goats, cows, and horses, called these chimerical hybrids by the
name of monsters; and the modern artificers of whom I speak, fashioned
from the foliage which they copied monsters of like nature; for these
the proper name is therefore monsters, and not grotesques. Well, then, I
designed patterns of this kind, and filled them in with gold, as I have
mentioned; and they were far more pleasing to the eye than the Turkish.

It chanced at that time that I lighted upon some jars or little antique
urns filled with ashes, and among the ashes were some iron rings inlaid
with gold (for the ancients also used that art), and in each of the
rings was set a tiny cameo of shell. On applying to men of learning,
they told me that these rings were worn as amulets by folk desirous of
abiding with mind unshaken in any extraordinary circumstance, whether of
good or evil fortune. Hereupon, at the request of certain noblemen who
were my friends, I undertook to fabricate some trifling rings of this
kind; but I made them of refined steel; and after they had been well
engraved and inlaid with gold, they produced a very beautiful effect;
and sometimes a single ring brought me more than forty crowns, merely in
payment for my labour.

It was the custom at that epoch to wear little golden medals, upon which
every nobleman or man of quality had some device or fancy of his own
engraved; and these were worn in the cap. Of such pieces I made very
many, and found them extremely difficult to work. I have already
mentioned the admirable craftsman Caradosso, who used to make such
ornaments; and as there were more than one figure on each piece, he
asked at least a hundred gold crowns for his fee. This being so-not,
however, because his prices were so high, but because he worked so
slowly-I began to be employed by certain noblemen, for whom, among other
things, I made a medal in competition with that great artist, and it had
four figures, upon which I had expended an infinity of labour. These men
of quality, when they compared my piece with that of the famous
Caradosso, declared that mine was by far the better executed and more
beautiful, and bade me ask what I liked as the reward of my trouble; for
since I had given them such perfect satisfaction, they wished to do the
like by me. I replied that my greatest reward and what I most desired
was to have rivalled the masterpieces of so eminent an artist; and that
if their lordships thought I had, I acknowledged myself to be most amply
rewarded. With this I took my leave, and they immediately sent me such a
very liberal present, that I was well content; indeed there grew in me
so great a spirit to do well, that to this event I attributed what will
afterwards be related of my progress.

Note 1. 'Gichero,' arum maculatum, and 'clizia,' the sunflower.


I SHALL be obliged to digress a little from the history of my art,
unless I were to omit some annoying incidents which have happened in the
course of my troubled career. One of these, which I am about to
describe, brought me into the greatest risk of my life. I have already
told the story of the artists’ club, and of the farcical adventures
which happened owing to the woman whom I mentioned, Pantasilea, the one
who felt for me that false and fulsome love. She was furiously enraged
because of the pleasant trick by which I brought Diego to our banquet,
and she swore to be revenged on me. How she did so is mixed up with the
history of a young man called Luigi Pulci, who had recently come to
Rome. He was the son of one of the Pulcis, who had been beheaded for
incest with his daughter; and the youth possessed extraordinary gifts
for poetry together with sound Latin scholarship; he wrote well, was
graceful in manners, and of surprising personal beauty; he had just left
the service of some bishop, whose name I do not remember, and was
thoroughly tainted with a very foul disease. While he was yet a lad and
living in Florence, they used in certain places of the city to meet
together during the nights of summer on the public streets; and he,
ranking among the best of the improvisatori, sang there. His recitations
were so admirable, that the divine Michel Agnolo Buonarroti, that prince
of sculptors and of painters, went, wherever he heard that he would be,
with the greatest eagerness and delight to listen to him. There was a
man called Piloto, a goldsmith, very able in his art, who, together with
myself, joined Buonarroti upon these occasions. [1] Thus acquaintance
sprang up between me and Luigi Pulci; and so, after the lapse of many
years, he came, in the miserable plight which I have mentioned, to make
himself known to me again in Rome, beseeching me for God’s sake to help
him. Moved to compassion by his great talents, by the love of my
fatherland, and by my own natural tenderness of heart, I took him into
my house, and had him medically treated in such wise that, being but a
youth, he soon regained his health. While he was still pursuing his
cure, he never omitted his studies, and I provided him with books
according to the means at my disposal. The result was that Luigi,
recognising the great benefits he had received from me, oftentimes with
words and tears returned me thanks, protesting that if God should ever
put good fortune in his way, he would recompense me for my kindness. To
this I replied that I had not done for him as much as I desired, but
only what I could, and that it was the duty of human beings to be
mutually serviceable. Only I suggested that he should repay the service
I had rendered him by doing likewise to some one who might have the same
need of him as he had had of me.

The young man in question began to frequent the Court of Rome, where he
soon found a situation, and enrolled himself in the suite of a bishop, a
man of eighty years, who bore the title of Gurgensis. [2] This bishop
had a nephew called Messer Giovanni: he was a nobleman of Venice; and
the said Messer Giovanni made show of marvellous attachment to Luigi
Pulci’s talents; and under the pretence of these talents, he brought him
as familiar to himself as his own flesh blood. Luigi having talked of
me, and of his great obligations to me, with Messer Giovanni, the latter
expressed a wish to make my acquaintance. Thus then it came to pass,
that when I had upon a certain evening invited that woman Pantasilea to
supper, and had assembled a company of men of parts who were my friends,
just at the moment of our sitting down to table, Messer Giovanni and
Luigi Pulci arrived, and after some complimentary speeches, they both
remained to sup with us. The shameless strumpet, casting her eyes upon
the young man’s beauty, began at once to lay her nets for him;
perceiving which, when the supper had come to an agreeable end, I took
Luigi aside, and conjured him, by the benefits he said he owed me, to
have nothing whatever to do with her. To this he answered: “Good
heavens, Benvenuto! do you then take me for a madman?” I rejoined: “Not
for a madman, but for a young fellow;” and I swore to him by God: “I do
not give that woman the least thought; but for your sake I should be
sorry if through her you come to break your neck.” Upon these words he
vowed and prayed to God, that, if ever he but spoke with her, he might
upon the moment break his neck. I think the poor lad swore this oath to
God with all his heart, for he did break his neck, as I shall presently
relate. Messer Giovanni showed signs too evident of loving him in a
dishonourable way; for we began to notice that Luigi had new suits of
silk and velvet every morning, and it was known that he abandoned
himself altogether to bad courses. He neglected his fine talents, and
pretended not to see or recognise me, because I had once rebuked him,
and told him he was giving his soul to foul vices, which would make him
break his neck, as he had vowed.

Note 1. Piloto, of whom we shall hear more hereafter, was a prominent
figure in the Florentine society of artists, and a celebrated practical
joker. Vasari says that a young man of whom he had spoken ill murdered
him. Lasca’s Novelle, 'Le Cene,' should be studied by those who seek an
insight into this curious Bohemia of the sixteenth century.

Note 2. Girolamo Balbo, of the noble Venetian family, Bishop of Gurck,
in Carinthia.


NOW Messer Giovanni bought his favourite a very fine black horse, for
which he paid 150 crowns. The beast was admirably trained to hand, so
that Luigi could go daily to caracole around the lodgings of that
prostitute Pantasilea. Though I took notice of this, I paid it no
attention, only remarking that all things acted as their nature
prompted; and meanwhile I gave my whole mind to my studies. It came to
pass one Sunday evening that we were invited to sup together with the
Sienese sculptor, Michel Agnolo, and the time of the year was summer.
Bachiacca, of whom I have already spoken, was present at the party; and
he had brought with him his old flame, Pantasilea. When we were at
table, she sat between me and Bachiacca; but in the very middle of the
banquet she rose, and excused herself upon the pretext of a natural
need, saying she would speedily return. We, meanwhile, continued talking
very agreeably and supping; but she remained an unaccountably long time
absent. It chanced that, keeping my ears open, I thought I heard a sort
of subdued tittering in the street below. I had a knife in hand, which I
was using for my service at the table. The window was so close to where
I sat, that, by merely rising, I could see Luigi in the street, together
with Pantasilea; and I heard Luigi saying: “Oh, if that devil Benvenuto
only saw us, shouldn’t we just catch it!” She answered: “Have no fear;
only listen to the noise they’re making; we are the last thing they’re
thinking of.” At these words, having made them both well out, I leaped
from the window, and took Luigi by the cape; and certainly I should then
have killed him with the knife I held, but that he was riding a white
horse, to which he clapped spurs, leaving his cape in my grasp, in order
to preserve his life. Pantasilea took to her heels in the direction of a
neighbouring church. The company at supper rose immediately, and came
down, entreating me in a body to refrain from putting myself and them to
inconvenience for a strumpet. I told them that I should not have let
myself be moved on her account, but that I was bent on punishing the
infamous young man, who showed how little he regarded me. Accordingly I
would not yield to the remonstrances of those ingenious and worthy men,
but took my sword, and went alone toward Prati:-the house where we were
supping, I should say, stood close to the Castello gate, which led to
Prati. [1] Walking thus upon the road to Prati, I had not gone far
before the sun sank, and I re-entered Rome itself at a slow pace. Night
had fallen; darkness had come on; but the gates of Rome were not yet

Toward two hours after sunset, I walked along Pantasilea’s lodging, with
the intention, if Luigi Pulci were there, of doing something to the
discontent of both. When I heard and saw that no one but a poor
servant-girl called Canida was in the house, I went to put away my cloak
and the scabbard of my sword, and then returned to the house, which
stood behind the Banchi on the river Tiber. Just opposite stretched a
garden belonging to an innkeeper called Romolo. It was enclosed by a
thick hedge of thorns, in which I hid myself, standing upright, and
waiting till the woman came back with Luigi. After keeping watch awhile
there, my friend Bachiacca crept up to me; whether led by his own
suspicions or by the advice of others, I cannot say. In a low voice he
called out to me: “Gossip” (for so we used to name ourselves for fun);
and then he prayed me for God’s love, using the words which follow, with
tears in the tone of his voice: “Dear gossip, I entreat you not to
injure that poor girl; she at least has erred in no wise in this
matter-no, not at all.” When I heard what he was saying, I replied: “If
you don’t take yourself off now, at this first word I utter, I will
bring my sword here down upon your head.” Overwhelmed with fright, my
poor gossip was suddenly taken ill with the colic, and withdrew to ease
himself apart; indeed, he could not buy obey the call. There was a
glorious heaven of stars, which shed good light to see by. All of a
sudden I was aware of the noise of many horses; they were coming toward
me from the one side and the other. It turned out to be Luigi and
Pantasilea, attended by a certain Messer Benvegnato of Perugia, who was
chamberlain to Pope Clement, and followed by four doughty captains of
Perugia, with some other valiant soldiers in the flower of youth;
altogether reckoned, there were more than twelve swords. When I
understood the matter, and saw not how to fly, I did my best to crouch
into the hedge. But the thorns pricked and hurt me, goading me to
madness like a bull; and I had half resolved to take a leap and hazard
my escape. Just then Luigi, with his arm round Pantasilea’s neck, was
heard crying: “I must kiss you once again, if only to insult that
traitor Benvenuto.” At that moment, annoyed as I was by the prickles,
and irritated by the young man’s words, I sprang forth, lifted my sword
on high, and shouted at the top of my voice: “You are all dead folk!” My
blow descended on the shoulder of Luigi; but the satyrs who doted on
him, had steeled his person round with coasts of mail and such-like
villainous defences; still the stroke fell with crushing force. Swerving
aside, the sword hit Pantasilea full in nose and mouth. Both she and
Luigi grovelled on the ground, while Bachiacca, with his breeches down
to heels, screamed out and ran away. Then I turned upon the others
boldly with my sword; and those valiant fellows, hearing a sudden
commotion in the tavern, thought there was an army coming of a hundred
men; and though they drew their swords with spirit, yet two horses which
had taken fright in the tumult cast them into such disorder that a
couple of the best riders were thrown, and the remainder took to flight.
I, seeing that the affair was turning out well, for me, ran as quickly
as I could, and came off with honour from the engagement, not wishing to
tempt fortune more than was my duty. During this hurly-burly, some of
the soldiers and captains wounded themselves with their own arms; and
Messer Benvegnato, the Pope’s chamberlain, was kicked and trampled by
his mule. One of the servants also, who had drawn his sword, fell down
together with his master, and wounded him badly in the hand. Maddened by
the pain, he swore louder than all the rest in his Perugian jargon,
crying out: “By the body of God, I will take care that Benvegnato
teaches Benvenuto how to live.” He afterwards commissioned one of the
captains who were with him (braver perhaps than the others, but with
less aplomb, as being but a youth) to seek me out. The fellow came to
visit me in the place of by retirement; that was the palace of a great
Neapolitan nobleman, who had become acquainted with me in my art, and
had besides taken a fancy to me because of my physical and mental
aptitude for fighting, to which my lord himself was personally well
inclined. So, then, finding myself made much of, and being precisely in
my element, I gave such answer to the captain as I think must have made
him earnestly repent of having come to look me up. After a few days,
when the wounds of Luigi, and the strumpet, and the rest were healing,
this great Neapolitan nobleman received overtures from Messer
Benvegnato; for the prelate’s anger had cooled, and he proposed to
ratify a peace between me and Luigi and the soldiers, who had personally
no quarrel with me, and only wished to make my acquaintance. Accordingly
my friend the nobleman replied that he would bring me where they chose
to appoint, and that he was very willing to effect a reconciliation. He
stipulated that no words should be bandied about on either side, seeing
that would be little to their credit; it was enough to go through the
form of drinking together and exchanging kisses; he for his part
undertook to do the talking, and promised to settle the matter to their
honour. This arrangement was carried out. On Thursday evening my
protector took me to the house of Messer Benvegnato, where all the
soldiers who had been present at that discomfiture were assembled, and
already seated at table. My nobleman was attended by thirty brave
fellows, all well armed; a circumstance which Messer Benvegnato had not
anticipated. When we came into the hall, he walking first, I following,
he speak to this effect: “God save you, gentlemen; we have come to see
you, I and Benvenuto, whom I love like my own brother; and we are ready
to do whatever you propose.” Messer Benvegnato, seeing the hall filled
with such a crowd of men, called out: “It is only peace, and nothing
else, we ask of you.” Accordingly he promised that the governor of Rome
and his catchpoles should give me no trouble. Then we made peace, and I
returned to my shop, where I could not stay an hour without that
Neapolitan nobleman either coming to see me or sending for me.

Meanwhile Luigi Pulci, having recovered from his wound, rode every day
upon the black horse which was so well trained to heel and bridle. One
day, among others, after it had rained a little, and he was making his
horse curvet just before Pantasilea’s door, he slipped and fell, with
the horse upon him. His right leg was broken short off in the thigh; and
after a few days he died there in Pantisilea’s lodgings, discharging
thus the vow he registered so heartily to Heaven. Even so may it be seen
that God keeps account of the good and the bad, and gives to each one
what he merits.

Note 1. The Porta Castello was the gate called after the Castle of S.
Angelo. Prati, so far as I can make out, was an open space between the
Borgo and the Bridge of S. Angelo. In order to get inside Rome itself,
Cellini had to pass a second gate. His own lodging and Pantasilea’s
house were in the quarter of the Bianchi, where are now the Via Giulia
and Via de’ Banchi Vecchi.


THE WHOLE world was now in warfare. [1] Pope Clement had sent to get
some troops from Giovanni de’ Medici, and when they came, they made such
disturbances in Rome, that it was ill living in open shops. [2] On this
account I retired to a good snug house behind the Banchi, where I worked
for all the friends I had acquired. Since I produced few things of much
importance at that period, I need not waste time in talking about them.
I took much pleasure in music and amusements of the kind. On the death
of Giovanni de’ Medici in Lombardy, the Pope, at the advice of Messer
Jacopo Salviati, dismissed the five bands he had engaged; and when the
Constable of Bourbon knew there were no troops in Rome, he pushed his
army with the utmost energy up to the city. The whole of Rome upon this
flew to arms. I happened to be intimate with Alessandro, the son of
Piero del Bene, who, at the time when the Colonnesi entered Rome, had
requested me to guard his palace. [3] On this more serious occasion,
therefore, he prayed me to enlist fifty comrades for the protection of
the said house, appointing me their captain, as I had been when the
Colonnesi came. So I collected fifty young men of the highest courage,
and we took up our quarters in his palace, with good pay and excellent

Bourbon’s army had now arrived before the walls of Rome, and Alessandro
begged me to go with him to reconnoitre. So we went with one of the
stoutest fellows in our Company; and on the way a youth called Cecchino
della Casa joined himself to us. On reaching the walls by the Campo
Santo, we could see that famous army, which was making every effort to
enter the town. Upon the ramparts where we took our station several
young men were lying killed by the besiegers; the battle raged there
desperately, and there was the densest fog imaginable. I turned to
Alessandro and said: “Let us go home as soon as we can, for there is
nothing to be done here; you see the enemies are mounting, and our men
are in flight.” Alessandro, in a panic, cried: “Would God that we had
never come here!” and turned in maddest haste to fly. I took him up
somewhat sharply with these words: “Since you have brought me here, I
must perform some action worthy of a man;” and directing my arquebuse
where I saw the thickest and most serried troop of fighting men, I aimed
exactly at one whom I remarked to be higher than the rest; the fog
prevented me from being certain whether he was on horseback or on foot.
Then I turned to Alessandro and Cecchino, and bade them discharge their
arquebuses, showing them how to avoid being hit by the besiegers. When
we had fired two rounds apiece, I crept cautiously up to the wall, and
observing among the enemy a most extraordinary confusion, I discovered
afterwards that one of our shots had killed the Constable of Bourbon;
and from what I subsequently learned, he was the man whom I had first
noticed above the heads of the rest. [4]

Quitting our position on the ramparts, we crossed the Campo Santo, and
entered the city by St. Peter’s; then coming out exactly at the church
of Santo Agnolo, we got with the greatest difficulty to the great gate
of the castle; for the generals Renzo di Ceri and Orazio Baglioni were
wounding and slaughtering everybody who abandoned the defence of the
walls. [5] By the time we had reached the great gate, part of the foemen
had already entered Rome, and we had them in our rear. The castellan had
ordered the portcullis to be lowered, in order to do which they cleared
a little space, and this enabled us four to get inside. On the instant
that I entered, the captain Pallone de’ Medici claimed me as being of
the Papal household, and forced me to abandon Alessandro, which I had to
do, much against my will. I ascended to the keep, and at the same
instant Pope Clement came in through the corridors into the castle; he
had refused to leave the palace of St. Peter earlier, being unable to
believe that his enemies would effect their entrance into Rome. [6]
Having got into the castle in this way, I attached myself to certain
pieces of artillery, which were under the command of a bombardier called
Giuliano Fiorentino. Leaning there against the battlements, the unhappy
man could see his poor house being sacked, and his wife and children
outraged; fearing to strike his own folk, he dared not discharge the
cannon, and flinging the burning fuse upon the ground, he wept as though
his heart would break, and tore his cheeks with both his hands. [7] Some
of the other bombardiers were behaving in like manner; seeing which, I
took one of the matches, and got the assistance of a few men who were
not overcome by their emotions. I aimed some swivels and falconets at
points where I saw it would be useful, and killed with them a good
number of the enemy. Had it not been for this, the troops who poured
into Rome that morning, and were marching straight upon the castle,
might possibly have entered it with ease, because the artillery was
doing them no damage. I went on firing under the eyes of several
cardinals and lords, who kept blessing me and giving me the heartiest
encouragement. In my enthusiasm I strove to achieve the impossible; let
it suffice that it was I who saved the castle that morning, and brought
the other bombardiers back to their duty. [8] I worked hard the whole of
that day; and when the evening came, while the army was marching into
Rome through the Trastevere, Pope Clement appointed a great Roman
nobleman named Antonio Santacroce to be captain of all the gunners. The
first thing this man did was to come to me, and having greeted me with
the utmost kindness, he stationed me with five fine pieces of artillery
on the highest point of the castle, to which the name of the Angel
specially belongs. This circular eminence goes round the castle, and
surveys both Prati and the town of Rome. The captain put under my orders
enough men to help in managing my guns, and having seen me paid in
advance, he gave me rations of bread and a little wine, and begged me to
go forward as I had begun. I was perhaps more inclined by nature to the
profession of arms than to the one I had adopted, and I took such
pleasure in its duties that I discharged them better than those of my
own art. Night came, the enemy had entered Rome, and we who were in the
castle (especially myself, who have always taken pleasure in
extraordinary sights) stayed gazing on the indescribable scene of tumult
and conflagration in the streets below. People who were anywhere else
but where we were, could not have formed the least imagination of what
it was. I will not, however, set myself to describe that tragedy, but
will content myself with continuing the history of my own life and the
circumstances which properly belong to it.

Note 1. War had broken out in 1521 between Charles V and Francis I,
which disturbed all Europe and involved the States of Italy in serious
complications. At the moment when this chapter opens, the Imperialist
army under the Constable of Bourbon was marching upon Rome in 1527.

Note 2. These troops entered Rome in October 1526. They were disbanded
in March, 1527.

Note 3. Cellini here refers to the attack made upon Rome by the great
Ghibelline house of Colonna, led by their chief captain, Pompeo, in
September 1526. They took possession of the city and drove Clement into
the Castle of S. Angelo, where they forced him to agree to terms
favouring the Imperial cause. It was customary for Roman gentlemen to
hire bravi for the defence of their palaces when any extraordinary
disturbance was expected, as, for example, upon the vacation of the
Papal Chair.

Note 4. All historians of the sack of Rome agree in saying that Bourbon
was shot dead while placing ladders against the outworks near the shop
Cellini mentions. But the honour of firing the arquebuse which brought
him down cannot be assigned to any one in particular. Very different
stories were current on the subject. See Gregorovius, 'Stadt Rom.,' vol.
viii. p. 522.

Note 5. For Renzo di Ceri see above. Orazio Baglioni, of the
semi-princely Perugian family, was a distinguished Condottiere. He
subsequently obtained the captaincy of the Bande Nere, and died fighting
near Naples in 1528. Orazio murdered several of his cousins in order to
acquire the lordship of Perugia. His brother Malatesta undertook to
defend Florence in the siege of 1530, and sold the city by treason to

Note 6. Giovio, in his Life of the Cardinal Prospero Colonna, relates
how he accompanied Clement in his flight from the Vatican to the castle.
While passing some open portions of the gallery, he threw his violent
mantle and cap of a Monsignore over the white stole of the Pontiff, for
fear he might be shot at by the soldiers in the streets below.

Note 7. The short autobiography of Raffaello da Montelupo, a man in many
respects resembling Cellini, confirms this part of our author’s
narrative. It is one of the most interesting pieces of evidence
regarding what went on inside the castle during the sack of Rome.
Montelupo was also a gunner, and commanded two pieces.

Note 8. This is an instance of Cellini’s exaggeration. He did more than
yeoman’s service, no doubt. But we cannot believe that, without him, the
castle would have been taken.


DURING the course of my artillery practice, which I never intermitted
through the whole month passed by us beleaguered in the castle, I met
with a great many very striking accidents, all of them worthy to be
related. But since I do not care to be too prolix, or to exhibit myself
outside the sphere of my profession, I will omit the larger part of
them, only touching upon those I cannot well neglect, which shall be the
fewest in number and the most remarkable. The first which comes to hand
is this: Messer Antonio Santacroce had made me come down from the Angel,
in order to fire on some houses in the neighbourhood, where certain of
our besiegers had been seen to enter. While I was firing, a cannon shot
reached me, which hit the angle of a battlement, and carried off enough
of it to be the cause why I sustained no injury. The whole mass struck
me in the chest and took my breath away. I lay stretched upon the ground
like a dead man, and could hear what the bystanders were saying. Among
them all, Messer Antonio Santacroce lamented greatly, exclaiming: “Alas,
alas! we have lost the best defender that we had.” Attracted by the
uproar, one of my comrades ran up; he was called Gianfrancesco, and was
a bandsman, but was far more naturally given to medicine than to music.
On the spot he flew off, crying for a stoop of the very best Greek wine.
Then he made a tile red-hot, and cast upon it a good handful of
wormwood; after which he sprinkled the Greek wine; and when the wormwood
was well soaked, he laid it on my breast, just where the bruise was
visible to all. Such was the virtue of the wormwood that I immediately
regained my scattered faculties. I wanted to begin to speak; but could
not; for some stupid soldiers had filled my mouth with earth, imagining
that by so doing they were giving me the sacrament; and indeed they were
more like to have excommunicated me, since I could with difficulty come
to myself again, the earth doing me more mischief than the blow.
However, I escaped that danger, and returned to the rage and fury of the
guns, pursuing my work there with all the ability and eagerness that I
could summon.

Pope Clement, by this, had sent to demand assistance from the Duke of
Urbino, who was with the troops of Venice; he commissioned the envoy to
tell his Excellency that the Castle of S. Angelo would send up every
evening three beacons from its summit accompanied by three discharges of
the cannon thrice repeated, and that so long as this signal was
continued, he might take for granted that the castle had not yielded. I
was charged with lighting the beacons and firing the guns for this
purpose; and all this while I pointed my artillery by day upon the
places where mischief could be done. The Pope, in consequence, began to
regard me with still greater favour, because he saw that I discharged my
functions as intelligently as the task demanded. Aid from the Duke of
Urbino [1] never came; on which, as it is not my business, I will make
no further comment.

Note 1. Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, commanded a
considerable army as general of the Church, and was now acting for
Venice. Why he effected no diversion while the Imperial troops were
marching upon Rome, and why he delayed to relieve the city, was never
properly explained. Folk attributed his impotent conduct partly to a
natural sluggishness in warfare, and partly to his hatred for the house
of Medici. Leo X had deprived him of his dukedom, and given it to a
Medicean prince. It is to this that Cellini probably refers in the
cautious phrase which ends the chapter.


WHILE I was at work upon that diabolical task of mine, there came from
time to time to watch me some of the cardinals who were invested in the
castle; and most frequently the Cardinal of Ravenna and the Cardinal de’
Gaddi. [1] I often told them not to show themselves, since their nasty
red caps gave a fair mark to our enemies. From neighbouring buildings,
such as the Torre de’ Bini, we ran great peril when they were there; and
at last I had them locked off, and gained thereby their deep ill-will. I
frequently received visits also from the general, Orazio Baglioni, who
was very well affected toward me. One day while he was talking with me,
he noticed something going forward in a drinking-place outside the Porta
di Castello, which bore the name of Baccanello. This tavern had for sign
a sun painted between two windows, of a bright red colour. The windows
being closed, Signor Orazio concluded that a band of soldiers were
carousing at table just between them and behind the sun. So he said to
me “Benvenuto, if you think that you could hit that wall an ell’s
breadth from the sun with your demi-cannon here, I believe you would be
doing a good stroke of business, for there is a great commotion there,
and men of much importance must probably be inside the house.” I
answered that I felt quite capable of hitting the sun in its centre, but
that a barrel full of stones, which was standing close to the muzzle of
the gun, might be knocked down by the shock of the discharge and the
blast of the artillery. He rejoined: “Don’t waste time, Benvenuto. In
the first place, it is not possible, where it is standing, that the
cannon’s blast should bring it down; and even if it were to fall, and
the Pope himself was underneath, the mischief would not be so great as
you imagine. Fire, then, only fire!” Taking no more thought about it, I
struck the sun in the centre, exactly as I said I should. The cask was
dislodged, as I predicted, and fell precisely between Cardinal Farnese
and Messer Jacopo Salviati. [2] It might very well have dashed out the
brains of both of them, except that just at that very moment Farnese was
reproaching Salviati with having caused the sack of Rome, and while they
stood apart from one another to exchange opprobrious remarks, my gabion
fell without destroying them. When he heard the uproar in the court
below, good Signor Orazio dashed off in a hurry; and I, thrusting my
neck forward where the cask had fallen, heard some people saying; “It
would not be a bad job to kill that gunner!” Upon this I turned two
falconets toward the staircase, with mind resolved to let blaze on the
first man who attempted to come up. The household of Cardinal Farnese
must have received orders to go and do me some injury; accordingly I
prepared to receive them, with a lighted match in hand. Recognising some
who were approaching, I called out: “You lazy lubbers, if you don’t pack
off from there, and if but a man’s child among you dares to touch the
staircase, I have got two cannon loaded, which will blow you into
powder. Go and tell the Cardinal that I was acting at the order of
superior officers, and that what we have done and are doing is in
defence of them priests, [3] and not to hurt them.” They made away; and
then came Signor Orazio Baglioni, running. I bade him stand back, else
I’d murder him; for I knew very well who he was. He drew back a little,
not without a certain show of fear, and called out: “Benvenuto, I am
your friend!” To this I answered: “Sir, come up, but come alone, and
then come as you like.” The general, who was a man of mighty pride,
stood still a moment, and then said angrily: “I have a good mind not to
come up again, and to do quite the opposite of that which I intended
toward you.” I replied that just as I was put there to defend my
neighbours, I was equally well able to defend myself too. He said that
he was coming alone; and when he arrived at the top of the stairs, his
features were more discomposed that I thought reasonable. So I kept my
hand upon my sword, and stood eyeing him askance. Upon this he began to
laugh, and the colour coming back into his face, he said to me with the
most pleasant manner: “Friend Benvenuto, I bear you as great love as I
have it in my heart to give; and in God’s good time I will render you
proof of this. Would to God that you had killed those two rascals; for
one of them is the cause of all this trouble, and the day perchance will
come when the other will be found the cause of something even worse.” He
then begged me, if I should be asked, not to say that he was with me
when I fired the gun; and for the rest bade me be of good cheer. The
commotion which the affair made was enormous, and lasted a long while.
However, I will not enlarge upon it further, only adding that I was
within an inch of revenging my father on Messer Jacopo Salviati, who had
grievously injured him, according to my father’s complaints. As it was,
unwittingly I gave the fellow a great fright. Of Farnese I shall say
nothing here, because it will appear in its proper place how well it
would have been if I had killed him.

Note 1. Benedetto Accolti of Arezzo, Archbishop of Ravenna in 1524,
obtained the hat in 1527, three days before the sack of Rome. He was a
distinguished man of letters. Niccolò Gaddi was created Cardinal on the
same day as Accolti. We shall hear more of him in Cellini’s pages.

Note 2. Alessandro Farnese, Dean of the Sacred College, and afterwards
Pope Paul III. Of Giacopo Salviati we have already heard, p. 14.

Note 3. 'Loro preti.' Perhaps 'their priests.'


I PURSUED my business of artilleryman, and every day performed some
extraordinary feat, whereby the credit and the favour I acquired with
the Pope was something indescribable. There never passed a day but what
I killed one or another of our enemies in the besieging army. On one
occasion the Pope was walking round the circular keep, [1] when he
observed a Spanish Colonel in the Prati; he recognised the man by
certain indications, seeing that this officer had formerly been in his
service; and while he fixed his eyes on him, he kept talking about him.
I, above by the Angel, knew nothing of all this, but spied a fellow down
there, busying himself about the trenches with a javelin in his hand; he
was dressed entirely in rose-colour; and so, studying the worst that I
could do against him, I selected a gerfalcon which I had at hand; it is
a piece of ordnance larger and longer than a swivel, and about the size
of a demiculverin. This I emptied, and loaded it again with a good
charge of fine powder mixed with the coarser sort; then I aimed it
exactly at the man in red, elevating prodigiously, because a piece of
that calibre could hardly be expected to carry true at such a distance.
I fired, and hit my man exactly in the middle. He had trussed his sword
in front, [2] for swagger, after a way those Spaniards have; and my
ball, when it struck him, broke upon the blade, and one could see the
fellow cut in two fair halves. The Pope, who was expecting nothing of
this kind, derived great pleasure and amazement from the sight, both
because it seemed to him impossible that one should aim and hit the mark
at such a distance, and also because the man was cut in two, and he
could not comprehend how this should happen. He sent for me, and asked
about it. I explained all the devices I had used in firing; but told him
that why the man was cut in halves, neither he nor I could know. Upon my
bended knees I then besought him to give me the pardon of his blessing
for that homicide; and for all the others I had committed in the castle
in the service of the Church. Thereat the Pope, raising his hand, and
making a large open sign of the cross upon my face, told me that he
blessed me, and that he gave me pardon for all murders I had ever
perpetrated, or should ever perpetrate, in the service of the Apostolic
Church. When I felt him, I went aloft, and never stayed from firing to
the utmost of my power; and few were the shots of mine that missed their
mark. My drawing, and my fine studies in my craft, and my charming art
of music, all were swallowed up in the din of that artillery; and if I
were to relate in detail all the splendid things I did in that infernal
work of cruelty, I should make the world stand by and wonder. But, not
to be too prolix, I will pass them over. Only I must tell a few of the
most remarkable, which are, as it were, forced in upon me.

To begin then: pondering day and night what I could render for my own
part in defence of Holy Church, and having noticed that the enemy
changed guard and marched past through the great gate of Santo Spirito,
which was within a reasonable range, I thereupon directed my attention
to that spot; but, having to shoot sideways, I could not do the damage
that I wished, although I killed a fair percentage every day. This
induced our adversaries, when they saw their passage covered by my guns,
to load the roof of a certain house one night with thirty gabions, which
obstructed the view I formerly enjoyed. Taking better thought than I had
done of the whole situation, I now turned all my five pieces of
artillery directly on the gabions, and waited till the evening hour,
when they changed guard. Our enemies, thinking they were safe, came on
at greater ease and in a closer body than usual; whereupon I set fire to
my blow-pipes, [3] Not merely did I dash to pieces the gabions which
stood in my way; but, what was better, by that one blast I slaughtered
more than thirty men. In consequence of this manœuvre, which I
repeated twice, the soldiers were thrown into such disorder, that being,
moreover, encumbered with the spoils of that great sack, and some of
them desirous of enjoying the fruits of their labour, they oftentimes
showed a mind to mutiny and take themselves away from Rome. However,
after coming to terms with their valiant captain, Gian di Urbino, [4]
they were ultimately compelled, at their excessive inconvenience, to
take another road when they changed guard. It cost them three miles of
march, whereas before they had but half a mile. Having achieved this
feat, I was entreated with prodigious favours by all the men of quality
who were invested in the castle. This incident was so important that I
thought it well to relate it, before finishing the history of things
outside my art, the which is the real object of my writing: forsooth, if
I wanted to ornament my biography with such matters, I should have far
too much to tell. There is only one more circumstance which, now that
the occasion offers, I propose to record.

Note 1. The Mastio or main body of Hadrian’s Mausoleum, which was
converted into a fortress during the Middle Ages.

Note 2. 'S’aveva messo la spada dinanzi.' Perhaps 'was bearing his sword
in front of him.'

Note 3. 'Soffioni,' the cannon being like tubes to blow a fire up.

Note 4. This captain was a Spaniard, who played a very considerable
figure in the war, distinguishing himself at the capture of Genoa and
the battle of Lodi in 1522, and afterwards acting as Lieutenant-General
to the Prince of Orange. He held Naples against Orazio Baglioni in 1528,
and died before Spello in 1529.


I SHALL skip over some intervening circumstances, and tell how Pope
Clement, wishing to save the tiaras and the whole collection of the
great jewels of the Apostolic Camera, had me called, and shut himself up
together with me and the Cavalierino in a room alone. [1] This
cavalierino had been a groom in the stable of Filippo Strozzi; he was
French, and a person of the lowest birth; but being a most faithful
servant, the Pope had made him very rich, and confided in him like
himself. So the Pope, the Cavaliere, and I, being shut up together, they
laid before me the tiaras and jewels of the regalia; and his Holiness
ordered me to take all the gems out of their gold settings. This I
accordingly did; afterwards I wrapt them separately up in bits of paper
and we sewed them into the linings of the Pope’s and the Cavaliere’s
clothes. Then they gave me all the gold, which weighed about two hundred
pounds, and bade me melt it down as secretly as I was able. I went up to
the Angel, where I had my lodging, and could lock the door so as to be
free from interruption. There I built a little draught-furnace of
bricks, with a largish pot, shaped like an open dish, at the bottom of
it; and throwing the gold upon the coals, it gradually sank through and
dropped into the pan. While the furnace was working I never left off
watching how to annoy our enemies; and as their trenches were less than
a stone’s-throw right below us, I was able to inflict considerable
damage on them with some useless missiles, [2] of which there were
several piles, forming the old munition of the castle. I chose a swivel
and a falconet, which were both a little damaged in the muzzle, and
filled them with the projectiles I have mentioned. When I fired my guns,
they hurtled down like mad, occasioning all sorts of unexpected mischief
in the trenches. Accordingly I kept these pieces always going at the
same time that the gold was being melted down; and a little before
vespers I noticed some one coming along the margin of the trench on
muleback. The mule was trotting very quickly, and the man was talking to
the soldiers in the trenches. I took the precaution of discharging my
artillery just before he came immediately opposite; and so, making a
good calculation, I hit my mark. One of the fragments struck him in the
face; the rest were scattered on the mule, which fell dead. A tremendous
uproar rose up from the trench; I opened fire with my other piece, doing
them great hurt. The man turned out to be the Prince of Orange, who was
carried through the trenches to a certain tavern in the neighbourhood,
whither in a short while all the chief folk of the army came together.

When Pope Clement heard what I had done, he sent at once to call for me,
and inquired into the circumstance. I related the whole, and added that
the man must have been of the greatest consequence, because the inn to
which they carried him had been immediately filled by all the chiefs of
the army, so far at least as I could judge. The Pope, with a shrewd
instinct, sent for Messer Antonio Santacroce, the nobleman who, as I
have said, was chief and commander of the gunners. He bade him order all
us bombardiers to point our pieces, which were very numerous, in one
mass upon the house, and to discharge them all together upon the signal
of an arquebuse being fired. He judged that if we killed the generals,
the army, which was already almost on the point of breaking up, would
take flight. God perhaps had heard the prayers they kept continually
making, and meant to rid them in this manner of those impious scoundrels.

We put our cannon in order at the command of Santacroce, and waited for
the signal. But when Cardinal Orsini [3] became aware of what was going
forward, he began to expostulate with the Pope, protesting that the
thing by no means ought to happen, seeing they were on the point of
concluding an accommodation, and that if the generals were killed, the
rabble of the troops without a leader would storm the castle and
complete their utter ruin. Consequently they could by no means allow the
Pope’s plan to be carried out. The poor Pope, in despair, seeing himself
assassinated both inside the castle and without, said that he left them
to arrange it. On this, our orders were countermanded; but I, who chafed
against the leash, [4] when I knew that they were coming round to bid me
stop from firing, let blaze one of my demi-cannons, and struck a pillar
in the courtyard of the house, around which I saw a crowd of people
clustering. This shot did such damage to the enemy that it was like to
have made them evacuate the house. Cardinal Orsini was absolutely for
having me hanged or put to death; but the Pope took up my cause with
spirit. The high words that passed between them, though I well know what
they were, I will not here relate, because I make no profession of
writing history. It is enough for me to occupy myself with my own

Note 1. This personage cannot be identified. The Filippo Strozzi
mentioned as having been his master was the great opponent of the
Medicean despotism, who killed himself in prison after the defeat of
Montemurlo in 1539. He married in early life a daughter of Piero de’

Note 2. 'Passatojacci.'

Note 3. Franciotto Orsini was educated in the household of his kinsman
Lorenzo de’ Medici. He followed the profession of arms, and married; but
after losing his wife took orders, and received the hat in 1517.

Note 4. 'Io che non potevo stare alle mosse.'


AFTER I had melted down the gold, I took it to the Pope, who thanked me
cordially for what I had done, and ordered the Cavalierino to give me
twenty-five crowns, apologising to me for his inability to give me more.
A few days afterwards the articles of peace were signed. I went with
three hundred comrades in the train of Signor Orazio Baglioni toward
Perugia; and there he wished to make me captain of the company, but I
was unwilling at the moment, saying that I wanted first to go and see my
father, and to redeem the ban which was still in force against me at
Florence. Signor Orazio told me that he had been appointed general of
the Florentines; and Sir Pier Maria del Lotto, the envoy from Florence,
was with him, to whom he specially recommended me as his man. 1

In course of time I came to Florence in the company of several comrades.
The plague was raging with indescribable fury. When I reached home, I
found my good father, who thought either that I must have been killed in
the sack of Rome, or else that I should come back to him a beggar.
However, I entirely defeated both these expectations; for I was alive,
with plenty of money, a fellow to wait on me, and a good horse. My joy
on greeting the old man was so intense, that, while he embraced and
kissed me, I thought that I must die upon the spot. After I had narrated
all the devilries of that dreadful sack, and had given him a good
quantity of crowns which I had gained by my soldiering, and when we had
exchanged our tokens of affection, he went off to the Eight to redeem my
ban. It so happened that one of those magistrates who sentenced me, was
now again a member of the board. It was the very man who had so
inconsiderately told my father he meant to march me out into the country
with the lances. My father took this opportunity of addressing him with
some meaning words, in order to mark his revenge, relying on the favour
which Orazio Baglioni showed me.

Matters standing thus, I told my father how Signor Orazio had appointed
me captain, and that I ought to begin to think of enlisting my company.
At these words the poor old man was greatly disturbed, and begged me for
God’s sake not to turn my thoughts to such an enterprise, although he
knew I should be fit for this or yet a greater business, adding that his
other son, my brother, was already a most valiant soldier, and that I
ought to pursue the noble art in which I had laboured so many years and
with such diligence of study. Although I promised to obey him, he
reflected, like a man of sense, that if Signor Orazio came to Florence,
I could not withdraw myself from military service, partly because I had
passed my word, as well as for other reasons; He therefore thought of a
good expedient for sending me away, and spoke to me as follows: “Oh, my
dear son, the plague in this town is raging with immitigable violence,
and I am always fancying you will come home infected with it. I
remember, when I was a young man, that I went to Mantua, where I was
very kindly received, and stayed there several years. I pray and command
you, for the love of me, to pack off and go thither; and I would have
you do this to-day rather than to-morrow.”

Note 1. Pier Maria di Lotto of S. Miniato was notary to the Florentine
Signoria. He collected the remnants of the Bandle Nere, and gave them
over to Orazio Baglioni, who contrived to escape from S. Angelo in
safety to Perugia.


I HAD always taken pleasure in seeing the world; and having never been
in Mantua, I went there very willingly. Of the money I had brought to
Florence, I left the greater part with my good father, promising to help
him wherever I might be, and confiding him to the care of my elder
sister. Her name was Cosa; and since she never cared to marry, she was
admitted as a nun in Santa Orsola; but she put off taking the veil, in
order to keep house for our old father, and to look after my younger
sister, who was married to one Bartolommeo, a surgeon. So then, leaving
home with my father’s blessing, I mounted my good horse, and rode off on
it to Mantua.

It would take too long to describe that little journey in detail. The
whole world being darkened over with plague and war, I had the greatest
difficulty in reaching Mantua. However, in the end, I got there, and
looked about for work to do, which I obtained from a Maestro Niccolò of
Milan, goldsmith to the Duke of Mantua. Having thus settled down to
work, I went after two days to visit Messer Giulio Romano, that most
excellent painter, of whom I have already spoken, and my very good
friend. He received me with the tenderest caresses, and took it very ill
that I had not dismounted at his house. He was living like a lord, and
executing a great work for the Duke outside the city gates, in a place
called Del Te. It was a vast and prodigious undertaking, as may still, I
suppose, be seen by those who go there. [1]

Messer Giulio lost no time in speaking of me to the Duke in terms of the
warmest praise. [2] That Prince commissioned me to make a model for a
reliquary, to hold the blood of Christ, which they have there, and say
was brought them by Longinus. Then he turned to Giulio, bidding him
supply me with a design for it. To this Giulio replied: “My lord,
Benvenuto is a man who does not need other people’s sketches, as your
Excellency will be very well able to judge when you shall see his
model.” I set hand to the work, and made a drawing for the reliquary,
well adapted to contain the sacred phial. Then I made a little waxen
model of the cover. This was a seated Christ, supporting his great cross
aloft with the left hand, while he seemed to lean against it, and with
the fingers of his right hand he appeared to be opening the wound in his
side. When it was finished, it pleased the Duke so much that he heaped
favours on me, and gave me to understand that he would keep me in his
service with such appointments as should enable me to live in affluence.

Meanwhile, I had paid my duty to the Cardinal his brother, who begged
the Duke to allow me to make the pontifical seal of his most reverend
lordship. [3] This I began; but while I was working at it I caught a
quartan fever. During each access of this fever I was thrown into
delirium, when I cursed Mantua and its master and whoever stayed there
at his own liking. These words were reported to the Duke by the Milanese
goldsmith, who had not omitted to notice that the Duke wanted to employ
me. When the Prince heard the ravings of my sickness, he flew into a
passion against me; and I being out of temper with Mantua, our bad
feeling was reciprocal. The seal was finished after four months,
together with several other little pieces I made for the Duke under the
name of the Cardinal. His Reverence paid me well, and bade me return to
Rome, to that marvellous city where we had made acquaintance.

I quitted Mantua with a good sum of crowns, and reached Governo, where
the most valiant general Giovanni had been killed. [4] Here I had a
slight relapse of fever, which did not interrupt my journey, and coming
now to an end, it never returned on me again. When I arrived at
Florence, I hoped to find my dear father, and knocking at the door, a
hump-backed woman in a fury showed her face at the window; she drove me
off with a torrent of abuse, screaming that the sight of me was a
consumption to her. To this misshapen hag I shouted: “Ho! tell me,
cross-grained hunchback, is there no other face to see here but your
ugly visage?” “No, and bad luck to you.” Whereto I answered in a loud
voice: “In less than two hours may it [5] never vex us more!” Attracted
by this dispute, a neighbour put her head out, from whom I learned that
my father and all the people in the house had died of the plague. As I
had partly guessed it might be so, my grief was not so great as it would
otherwise have been. The woman afterwards told me that only my sister
Liperata had escaped, and that she had taken refuge with a pious lady
named Mona Andrea de’ Bellacci. 6

I took my way from thence to the inn, and met by accident a very dear
friend of mine, Giovanni Rigogli. Dismounting at his house, we proceeded
to the piazza, where I received intelligence that my brother was alive,
and went to find him at the house of a friend of his called Bertino
Aldobrandini. On meeting, we made demonstrations of the most passionate
affection; for he had heard that I was dead, and I had heard that he was
dead; and so our joy at embracing one another was extravagant. Then he
broke out into a loud fit of laughter, and said: “Come, brother, I will
take you where I’m sure you’d never guess! You must know that I have
given our sister Liperata away again in marriage, and she holds it for
absolutely certain that you are dead.” On our way we told each other all
the wonderful adventures we had met with; and when we reached the house
where our sister dwelt, the surprise of seeing me alive threw her into a
fainting fit, and she fell senseless in my arms. Had not my brother been
present, her speechlessness and sudden seizure must have made her
husband imagine I was some one different from a brother-as indeed at
first it did. Cecchino, however, explained matters, and busied himself
in helping the swooning woman, who soon come to. Then, after shedding
some tears for father, sister, husband, and a little son whom she had
lost, she began to get the supper ready; and during our merry meeting
all that evening we talked no more about dead folk, but rather
discoursed gaily about weddings. Thus, then, with gladness and great
enjoyment we brought our supper-party to an end.

Note 1. This is the famous Palazzo del Te, outside the walls of Mantua.
It still remains the chief monument of Giulio Romano’s versatile genius.

Note 2. Federigo Gonzago was at this time Marquis of Mantua. Charles V
erected his fief into a duchy in 1530.

Note 3. Ercole Gonzaga, created Cardinal in 1527. After the death of his
brother, Duke Federigo, he governed Mantua for sixteen years as regent
for his nephews, and became famous as a patron of arts and letters. He
died at Trento in 1563 while presiding over the Council there, in the
pontificate of Pius IV.

Note 4. Giovanni de’ Medici, surnamed Delle Bande Nere.

Note 5. 'I. e.,' your ugly visage.

Note 6. Carpani states that between May and November 1527 about 40,000
persons died of plague in Florence.


ON the entreaty of my brother and sister, I remained at Florence, though
my own inclination led me to return to Rome. The dear friend, also, who
had helped me in some of my earlier troubles, as I have narrated (I mean
Piero, son of Giovanni Landi)-he too advised me to make some stay in
Florence; for the Medici were in exile, that is to say, Signor Ippolito
and Signor Alessandro, who were afterwards respectively Cardinal and
Duke of Florence; and he judged it would be well for me to wait and see
what happened. [1]

At that time there arrived in Florence a Sienese, called Girolamo
Marretti, who had lived long in Turkey and was a man of lively
intellect. He came to my shop, and commissioned me to make a golden
medal to be worn in the hat. The subject was to be Hercules wrenching
the lion’s mouth. While I was working at this piece, Michel Agnolo
Buonarroti came oftentimes to see it. I had spent infinite pains upon
the design, so that the attitude of the figure and the fierce passion of
the beast were executed in quite a different style from that of any
craftsman who had hitherto attempted such groups. This, together with
the fact that the special branch of art was totally unknown to Michel
Agnolo, made the divine master give such praises to my work that I felt
incredibly inspired for further effort. However, I found little else to
do but jewel-setting; and though I gained more thus than in any other
way, yet I was dissatisfied, for I would fain have been employed upon
some higher task than that of setting precious stones.

Just then I met with Federigo Ginori, a young man of a very lofty
spirit. He had lived some years in Naples, and being endowed with great
charms of person and presence, had been the lover of a Neapolitan
princess. He wanted to have a medal made, with Atlas bearing the world
upon his shoulders, and applied to Michel Agnolo for a design. Michel
Agnolo made this answer: “Go and find out a young goldsmith named
Benvenuto; he will serve you admirably, and certainly he does not stand
in need of sketches by me. However, to prevent your thinking that I want
to save myself the trouble of so slight a matter, I will gladly sketch
you something; but meanwhile speak to Benvenuto, and let him also make a
model; he can then execute the better of the two designs.” Federigo
Ginori came to me, and told me what he wanted, adding thereto how Michel
Agnolo had praised me, and how he had suggested I should make a waxen
model while he undertook to supply a sketch. The words of that great man
so heartened me, that I set myself to work at once with eagerness upon
the model; and when I had finished it, a painter who was intimate with
Michel Agnolo, called Giuliano Bugiardini, brought me the drawing of
Atlas. [2] On the same occasion I showed Giuliano my little model in
wax, which was very different from Michel Agnolo’s drawing; and
Federigo, in concert with Bugiardini, agreed that I should work upon my
model. So I took it in hand, and when Michel Agnolo saw it, he praised
me to the skies. This was a figure, as I have said, chiselled on a plate
of gold; Atlas had the heaven upon his back, made out of a crystal ball,
engraved with the zodiac upon a field of lapis-lazuli. The whole
composition produced an indescribably fine effect; and under it ran the
legend 'Summa tulisse juvat!' [3] Federigo was so thoroughly well
pleased that he paid me very liberally. Aluigi Alamanni was at that time
in Florence. Federigo Ginori, who enjoyed his friendship, brought him
often to my workshop, and through this introduction we became very
intimate together. 4

Note 1. I may remind my readers that the three Medici of the ruling
house were now illegitimate. Clement VII was the bastard son of
Giuliano, brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Ippolito, the Cardinal,
was the bastard of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, son of Lorenzo the
Magnificent. Alessandro was the reputed bastard of Lorenzo, Duke of
Urbino, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Alessandro became Duke of
Florence, and after poisoning his cousin, Cardinal Ippolito, was
murdered by a distant cousin, Lorenzino de’ Medici. In this way the male
line of Lorenzo the Magnificent was extinguished.

Note 2. This painter was the pupil of Bertoldo, a man of simple manners
and of some excellence in his art. The gallery at Bologna has a fine
specimen of his painting. Michel Agnolo delighted in his society.

Note 3. Cellini says 'Summam.'

Note 4. This was the agreeable didactic poet Luigi Alamanni, who had to
fly from Florence after a conspiracy against Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici
in 1522. He could never reconcile himself to the Medicean tyranny, and
finally took refuge in France, where he was honoured by François I. He
died at Amboise in 1556.


POPE CLEMENT had now declared war upon the city of Florence, which
thereupon was put in a state of defence; and the militia being organised
in each quarter of the town, I too received orders to serve in my turn.
I provided myself with a rich outfit, and went about with the highest
nobility of Florence, who showed a unanimous desire to fight for the
defence of our liberties. Meanwhile the speeches which are usual upon
such occasions were made in every quarter; [1] the young men met
together more than was their wont, and everywhere we had but one topic
of conversation.

It happened one day, about noon, that a crowd of tall men and lusty
young fellows, the first in the city, were assembled in my workshop,
when a letter from Rome was put into my hands. It came from a man called
Maestro Giacopino della Barca. His real name was Giacopo della Sciorina,
but they called him della Barca in Rome, because he kept a ferry boat
upon the Tiber between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Santo Agnolo. He was a
person of considerable talent, distinguished by his pleasantries and
striking conversation, and he had formerly been a designer of patterns
for the cloth-weavers in Florence. This man was intimate with the Pope,
who took great pleasure in hearing him talk. Being one day engaged in
conversation, they touched upon the sack and the defence of the castle.
This brought me to the Pope’s mind, and he spoke of me in the very
highest terms, adding that if he knew where I was, he should be glad to
get me back. Maestro Giacopo said I was in Florence; whereupon the Pope
bade the man write and tell me to return to him. The letter I have
mentioned was to the effect that I should do well if I resumed the
service of Clement, and that this was sure to turn out to my advantage.

The young men who were present were curious to know what the letter
contained; wherefore I concealed it as well as I could. Afterwards I
wrote to Maestro Giacopo, begging him by no means, whether for good or
evil, to write to me again. He however grew more obstinate in his
officiousness, and wrote me another letter, so extravagantly worded,
that if it had been seen, I should have got into serious trouble. The
substance of it was that the Pope required me to come at once, wanting
to employ me on work of the greatest consequence; also that if I wished
to act aright, I ought to throw up everything, and not to stand against
a Pope in the party of those hare-brained Radicals. This letter, when I
read it, put me in such a fright, that I went to seek my dear friend
Piero Landi. Directly he set eyes on me, he asked what accident had
happened to upset me so. I told my friend that it was quite impossible
for me to explain what lay upon my mind, and what was causing me this
trouble; only I entreated him to take the keys I gave him, and to return
the gems and gold in my drawers to such and such persons, whose names he
would find inscribed upon my memorandum-book; next, I begged him to pack
up the furniture of my house, and keep account of it with his usual
loving-kindness; and in a few days he should hear where I was. The
prudent young man, guessing perhaps pretty nearly how the matter stood,
replied: “My brother, go your was quickly; then write to me, and have no
further care about your things.” I did as he advised. He was the most
loyal friend, the wisest, the most worthy, the most discreet, the most
affectionate that I have ever known. I left Florence and went to Rome,
and from there I wrote to him.

Note 1. 'Fecesi quelle orazioni.' It may mean “the prayers were offered


UPON my arrival in Rome, [1] I found several of my former friends, by
whom I was very well received and kindly entertained. No time was lost
before I set myself to work at things which brought me profit, but were
not notable enough to be described. There was a fine old man, a
goldsmith, called Raffaello del Moro, who had considerable reputation in
the trade, and was to boot a very worthy fellow. He begged me to consent
to enter his workshop, saying he had some commissions of importance to
execute, on which high profits might be looked for; so I accepted his
proposal with goodwill.

More than ten days had elapsed, and I had not presented myself to
Maestro Giacopino della Barca. Meeting me one day by accident, he gave
me a hearty welcome, and asked me how long I had been in Rome. When I
told him I had been there about a fortnight, he took it very ill, and
said that I showed little esteem for a Pope who had urgently compelled
him to write three times for me. I, who had taken his persistence in the
matter still more ill, made no reply, but swallowed down my irritation.
The man, who suffered from a flux of words, began one of his long yarns,
and went on talking, till at the last, when I saw him tired out, I
merely said that he might bring me to the Pope when he saw fit. He
answered that any time would do for him, and I, that I was always ready.
So we took our way toward the palace. It was a Maundy Thursday; and when
we reached the apartments of the Pope, he being known there and I
expected, we were at once admitted.

The Pope was in bed, suffering from a slight indisposition, and he had
with him Messer Jacopo Salviati and the Archbishop of Capua. [2] When
the Pope set eyes on me, he was exceedingly glad. I kissed his feet, and
then, as humbly as I could, drew near to him, and let him understand
that I had things of consequence to utter. On this he waved his hand,
and the two prelates retired to a distance from us. I began at once to
speak: “Most blessed Father, from the time of the sack up to this hour,
I have never been able to confess or to communicate, because they refuse
me absolution. The case is this. When I melted down the gold and worked
at the unsetting of those jewels, your Holiness ordered the Cavalierino
to give me a modest reward for my labours, of which I received nothing,
but on the contrary he rather paid me with abuse. When then I ascended
to the chamber where I had melted down the gold, and washed the ashes, I
found about a pound and a half of gold in tiny grains like millet-seeds;
and inasmuch as I had not money enough to take me home respectably, I
thought I would avail myself of this, and give it back again when
opportunity should offer. Now I am here at the feet of your Holiness,
who is the only true confessor. I entreat you to do me the favour of
granting me indulgence, so that I may be able to confess and
communicate, and by the grace of your Holiness regain the grace of my
Lord God.” Upon this the Pope, with a scarcely perceptible sigh,
remembering perhaps his former trials, spoke as follows: “Benvenuto, I
thoroughly believe what you tell me; it is in my power to absolve you of
any unbecoming deed you may have done, and, what is more, I have the
will. So, then, speak out with frankness and perfect confidence; for if
you had taken the value of a whole tiara, I am quite ready to pardon
you.” Thereupon I answered: “I took nothing, most blessed Father, but
what I have confessed; and this did not amount to the value of 140
ducats, for that was the sum I received from the Mint in Perugia, and
with it I went home to comfort my poor old father.” The Pope said: “Your
father has been as virtuous, good, and worthy a man as was ever born,
and you have not degenerated from him. I am very sorry that the money
was so little; but such as you say it was, I make you a present of it,
and give you my full pardon. Assure your confessor of this, if there is
nothing else upon your conscience which concerns me. Afterwards, when
you have confessed and communicated, you shall present yourself to me
again, and it will be to your advantage.”

When I parted from the Pope, Messer Giacopo and the Archbishop
approached, and the Pope spoke to them in the highest terms imaginable
about me; he said that he had confessed and absolved me; then he
commissioned the Archbishop of Capua to send for me and ask if I had any
other need beyond this matter, giving him full leave to absolve me
amply, and bidding him, moreover, treat me with the utmost kindness.

While I was walking away with Maestro Giacopino, he asked me very
inquisitively what was the close and lengthy conversation I had had with
his Holiness. After he had repeated the question more than twice, I said
that I did not mean to tell him, because they were matters with which he
had nothing to do, and therefore he need not go on asking me. Then I
went to do what had been agreed on with the Pope; and after the two
festivals were over, I again presented myself before his Holiness. He
received me even better than before, and said: “If you had come a little
earlier to Rome, I should have commissioned you to restore my two
tiaras, which were pulled to pieces in the castle. These, however, with
the exception of the gems, are objects of little artistic interest; so I
will employ you on a piece of the very greatest consequence, where you
will be able to exhibit all your talents. It is a button for my priest’s
cope, which has to be made round like a trencher, and as big as a little
trencher, one-third of a cubit wide. Upon this I want you to represent a
God the Father in half-relief, and in the middle to set that magnificent
big diamond, which you remember, together with several other gems of the
greatest value. Caradosso began to make me one, but did not finish it; I
want yours to be finished quickly, so that I may enjoy the use of it a
little while. Go, then, and make me a fine model.” He had all the jewels
shown me, and then I went off like a shot [3] to set myself to work.

Note 1. Cellini has been severely taxed for leaving Florence at this
juncture and taking service under Pope Clement, the oppressor of her
liberties. His own narrative admits some sense of shame. Yet we should
remember that he never took any decided part in politics, and belonged
to a family of Medicean sympathies. His father served Lorenzo and Piero;
his brother was a soldier of Giovanni delle Bande Nere and Duke
Alessandro. Many most excellent Florentines were convinced that the
Medicean government was beneficial; and an artist had certainly more to
expect from it than from the Republic.

Note 2. Nicolas Schomberg, a learned Dominican and disciple of
Savonarola, made Archbishop of Capua in 1520. He was a faithful and able
minister of Clement. Paul III gave him the hat in 1535, and he died in

Note 3. 'Affusolato.' Lit., straight as a spindle.


DURING the time when Florence was besieged, Federigo Ginori, for whom I
made that medal of Atlas, died of consumption, and the medal came into
the hands of Messer Luigi Alamanni, who, after a little while, took it
to present in person to Francis, king of France, accompanied by some of
his own finest compositions. The King was exceedingly delighted with the
gift; whereupon Messer Luigi told his Majesty so much about my personal
qualities, as well as my art, and spoke so favourably, that the King
expressed a wish to know me.

Meanwhile I pushed my model for the button forward with all the
diligence I could, constructing it exactly of the size which the jewel
itself was meant to have. In the trade of the goldsmiths it roused
considerable jealousy among those who thought that they were capable of
matching it. A certain Micheletto had just come to Rome; [1] he was very
clever at engraving cornelians, and was, moreover, a most intelligent
jeweller, an old man and of great celebrity. He had been employed upon
the Pope’s tiaras; and while I was working at my model, he wondered much
that I had not applied to him, being as he was a man of intelligence and
of large credit with the Pope. At last, when he saw that I was not
coming to him, he came to me, and asked me what I was about. “What the
Pope has ordered me,” I answered. Then he said: “The Pope has
commissioned me to superintend everything which is being made for his
Holiness.” I only replied that I would ask the Pope, and then should
know what answer I ought to give him. He told me that I should repent,
and departing in anger, had an interview with all the masters of the
art; they deliberated on the matter, and charged Michele with the
conduct of the whole affair. As was to be expected from a person of his
talents, he ordered more than thirty drawings to be made, all differing
in their details, for the piece the Pope had commissioned.

Having already access to his Holiness’ ear, he took into his counsel
another jeweller, named Pompeo, a Milanese, who was in favour with the
Pope, and related to Messer Traiano, the first chamberlain of the court;
[2] these two together, then, began to insinuate that they had seen my
model, and did not think me up to a work of such extraordinary import.
The Pope replied that he would also have to see it, and that if he then
found me unfit for the purpose, he should look around for one who was
fit. Both of them put in that they had several excellent designs ready;
to which the Pope made answer, that he was very pleased to hear it, but
that he did not care to look at them till I had completed my model;
afterwards, he would take them all into consideration at the same time.

After a few days I finished my model, and took it to the Pope one
morning, when Messer Traiano made me wait till he had sent for
Micheletto and Pompeo, bidding them make haste and bring their drawings.
On their arrival we were introduced, and Micheletto and Pompeo
immediately unrolled their papers, which the Pope inspected. The
draughtsmen who had been employed were not in the jeweller’s trade, and
therefore, knew nothing about giving their right place to precious
stones; and the jewellers, on their side, had not shown them how; for I
ought to say that a jeweller, when he has to work with figures, must of
necessity understand design, else he cannot produce anything worth
looking at: and so it turned out that all of them had stuck that famous
diamond in the middle of the breast of God the Father. The Pope, who was
an excellent connoisseur, observing this mistake, approved of none of
them; and when he had looked at about ten, he flung the rest down, and
said to me, who was standing at a distance: “Now show me your model,
Benvenuto, so that I may see if you have made the same mistake as those
fellows.” I came forward, and opened a little round box; whereupon one
would have thought that a light from heaven had struck the Pope’s eyes.
He cried aloud: “If you had been in my own body, you could not have done
it better, as this proves. Those men there have found the right way to
bring shame upon themselves!” A crowd of great lords pressing round, the
Pope pointed out the difference between my model and the drawings. When
he had sufficiently commended it, the others standing terrified and
stupid before him, he turned to me and said: “I am only afraid of one
thing, and that is of the utmost consequence. Friend Benvenuto, wax is
easy to work in; the real difficulty is to execute this in gold.” To
those words I answered without moment’s hesitation: “Most blessed
Father, if I do not work it ten times better than the model, let it be
agreed beforehand that you pay me nothing.” When they heard this, the
noblemen made a great stir, crying out that I was promising too much.
Among them was an eminent philosopher, who spoke out in my favour: “From
the fine physiognomy and bodily symmetry which I observed in this young
man, I predict that he will accomplish what he says, and think that he
will even go beyond it.” The Pope put in: “And this is my opinion also.”
Then he called his chamberlain, Messer Traiano, and bade him bring five
hundred golden ducats of the Camera.

While we were waiting for the money, the Pope turned once more to gaze
at leisure on the dexterous device I had employed for combining the
diamond with the figure of God the Father. I had put the diamond exactly
in the center of the piece; and above it God the Father was shown
seated, leaning nobly in a sideways attitude, [3] which made a perfect
composition, and did not interfere with the stone’s effect. Lifting his
right hand, he was in the act of giving the benediction. Below the
diamond I had place three children, who, with their arms upraised, were
supporting the jewel. One of them, in the middle, was in full relief,
the other two in half-relief. All around I set a crowd of cherubs, in
divers attitudes, adapted to the other gems. A mantle undulated to the
wind around the figure of the Father, from the folds of which cherubs
peeped out; and there were other ornaments besides which made a very
beautiful effect. The work was executed in white stucco on a black
stone. When the money came, the Pope gave it to me with his own hand,
and begged me in the most winning terms to let him have it finished in
his own days, adding that this should be to my advantage.

Note 1. Vasari calls this eminent engraver of gems Michelino.

Note 2. Messer Traiano Alicorno.

Note 3. 'In un certo bel modo svolto.' That means: turned aside, not
fronting the spectator.


I TOOK the money and the model home, and was in the utmost impatience to
begin my work. After I had laboured diligently for eight days, the Pope
sent word by one of his chamberlains, a very great gentleman of Bologna,
that I was to come to him and bring what I had got in hand. On the way,
the chamberlain, who was the most gentle-mannered person in the Roman
court, told me that the Pope not only wanted to see what I was doing,
but also intended to intrust me with another task of the highest
consequence, which was, in fact, to furnish dies for the money of the
Mint; and bade me arm myself beforehand with the answer I should give;
in short, he wished me to be prepared, and therefore he had spoken. When
we came into the presence, I lost no time in exhibiting the golden
plate, upon which I had as yet carved nothing but my figure of God the
Father; but this, though only in the rough, displayed a grander style
than that of the waxen model. The Pope regarded it with stupefaction,
and exclaimed: “From this moment forward I will believe everything you
say.” Then loading me with marks of favour, he added: “It is my
intention to give you another commission, which, if you feel competent
to execute it, I shall have no less at heart than this, or more.” He
proceeded to tell me that he wished to make dies for the coinage of his
realm, and asked me if I had ever tried my hand at such things, and if I
had the courage to attempt them. I answered that of courage for the task
I had no lack, and that I had seen how dies were made, but that I had
not ever made any. There was in the presence a certain Messer Tommaso,
of Prato, his Holiness’ Datary; [1] and this man, being a friend of my
enemies, put in: “Most blessed Father, the favours you are showering
upon this young man (and he by nature so extremely overbold) are enough
to make him promise you a new world. You have already given him one
great task, and now, by adding a greater, you are like to make them
clash together.” The Pope, in a rage, turned round on him, and told him
to mind his own business. Then he commanded me to make the model for a
broad doubloon of gold, upon which he wanted a naked Christ with his
hands tied, and the inscription 'Ecce Homo;' the reverse was to have a
Pope and Emperor in the act together of propping up a cross which seemed
to fall, and this legend: 'Unus spiritus et una fides erat in eis.'

After the Pope had ordered this handsome coin, Bandinello the sculptor
came up; he had not yet been made a knight; and, with his wonted
presumption muffled up in ignorance, said: “For these goldsmiths one
must make drawings for such fine things as that.” I turned round upon
him in a moment, and cried out that I did not want his drawings for my
art, but that I hoped before very long to give his art some trouble by
my drawings. The Pope expressed high satisfaction at these words, and
turning to me said: “Go then, my Benvenuto, and devote yourself with
spirit to my service, and do not lend an ear to the chattering of these
silly fellows.”

So I went off, and very quickly made two dies of steel; then I stamped a
coin in gold, and one Sunday after dinner took the coin and the dies to
the Pope, who, when he saw the piece, was astonished and greatly
gratified, not only because my work pleased him excessively, but also
because of the rapidity with which I had performed it. For the further
satisfaction and amazement of his holiness, I had brought with me all
the old coins which in former times had been made by those able men who
served Popes Giulio and Leo; and when I noticed that mine pleased him
far better, I drew forth from my bosom a patient, [2] in which I prayed
for the post of stamp-master [3] in the Mint. This place was worth six
golden crowns a month, in addition to the dies, which were paid at the
rate of a ducat for three by the Master of the Mint. The Pope took my
patent and handed it to the Datary, telling him to lose no time in
dispatching the business. The Datary began to put it in his pocket,
saying: “Most blessed Father, your Holiness ought not to go so fast;
these are matters which deserve some reflection.” To this the Pope
replied; “I have heard what you have got to say; give me here that
patent.” He took it, and signed it at once with his own hand; then,
giving it back, added: “Now, you have no answer left; see that you
dispatch it at once, for this is my pleasure; and Benvenuto’s shoes are
worth more than the eyes of all those other blockheads.” So, having
thanked his Holiness, I went back, rejoicing above measure, to my work.

Note 1. His full name was Tommaso Cortese. The Papal Datario was the
chief secretary of the office for requests, petitions and patents. His
title was derived from its being his duty to affix the 'Datum Romæ' to
documents. The fees of this office, which was also called Datario,
brought in a large revenue to the Papacy.

Note 2. 'Moto propio.' Cellini confuses his petition with the
instrument, which he had probably drawn up ready for signature.

Note 3. 'Maestro delle stampe della zecca, i. e.,' the artist who made
the dies.


I WAS still working in the shop of Raffaello del Moro. This worthy man
had a very beautiful young daughter, with regard to whom he had designs
on me; and I, becoming partly aware of his intentions, was very willing;
but, while indulging such desires, I made no show of them: on the
contrary, I was so discreet in my behaviour that I made him wonder. It
so happened that the poor girl was attacked by a disorder in her right
hand, which ate into the two bones belonging to the little finger and
the next. [1] Owing to her father’s carelessness, she had been treated
by an ignorant quack-doctor, who predicted that the poor child would be
crippled in the whole of her right arm, if even nothing worse should
happen. When I noticed the dismay of her father, I begged him not to
believe all that this ignorant doctor had said. He replied that he had
no acquaintance with physicians or with surgeons, and entreated me, if I
knew of one, to bring him to the house. [2] I sent at once for a certain
Maestro Giacomo of Perugia, a man of great skill in surgery, who
examined the poor girl. [3] She was dreadfully frightened through having
gained some inkling of the quack’s predictions; whereas, my intelligent
doctor declared that she would suffer nothing of consequence, and would
be very well able to use her right hand; also that though the two last
fingers must remain somewhat weaker than the others, this would be of no
inconvenience at all to her. So he began his treatment; and after a few
days, when he was going to extract a portion of the diseased bones, her
father called for me, and begged me to be present at the operation.
Maestro Giacomo was using some coarse steel instruments; and when I
observed that he was making little way and at the same time was
inflicting severe pain on the patient, I begged him to stop and wait
half a quarter of an hour for me. I ran into the shop, and made a little
scalping-iron of steel, extremely thin and curved; it cut like a razor.
On my return, the surgeon used it, and began to work with so gentle a
hand that she felt no pain, and in a short while the operation was over.
In consequence of this service, and for other reasons, the worthy man
conceived for me as much love, or more, as he had for two male children;
and in the meanwhile he attended to the cure of his beautiful young

I was on terms of the closest intimacy with one Messer Giovanni Gaddi,
who was a clerk of the Camera, and a great connoisseur of the arts,
although he had no practical acquaintance with any. [4] In his household
were a certain Messer Giovanni, a Greek of eminent learning, Messer
Lodovico of Fano, no less distinguished as a man of letters, Messer
Antonio Allegretti, and Messer Annibale Caro, [5] at that time in his
early manhood. Messer Bastiano of Venice, a most excellent painter, and
I were admitted to their society; and almost every day we met together
in Messer Giovanni’s company. [6]

Being aware of this intimacy, the worthy goldsmith Raffaello said to
Messer Giovanni: “Good sir, you know me; now I want to marry my daughter
to Benvenuto, and can think of no better intermediary than your worship.
So I am come to crave your assistance, and to beg you to name for her
such dowry from my estate as you may think suitable.” The light-headed
man hardly let my good friend finish what he had to say, before he put
in quite at random: “Talk no more about it, Raffaello; you are farther
from your object than January from mulberries.” The poor man, utterly
discouraged, looked about at once for another husband for his girl;
while she and the mother and all the family lived on in a bad humour
with me. Since I did not know the real cause of this-I imagined they
were paying me with bastard coin for the many kindnesses I had shown
them-I conceived the thought of opening a workshop of my own in their
neighbourhood. Messer Giovanni told me nothing till the girl was
married, which happened in a few months.

Meanwhile, I laboured assiduously at the work I was doing for the Pope,
and also in the service of the Mint; for his Holiness had ordered
another coin, of the value of two carlins, on which his own portrait was
stamped, while the reverse bore a figure of Christ upon the waters,
holding out his hand to S. Peter, with this inscription 'Quare
dubitasti?' My design won such applause that a certain secretary of the
Pope, a man of the greatest talent, called Il Sanga, [7] was moved to
this remark: “Your Holiness can boast of having a currency superior to
any of the ancients in all their glory.” The Pope replied: “Benvenuto,
for his part, can boast of serving an emperor like me, who is able to
discern his merit.” I went on at my great piece in gold, showing it
frequently to the Pope, who was very eager to see it, and each time
expressed greater admiration.

Note 1. 'Ossicina che seguitano il dito,' &c. Probably metacarpal bones.

Note 2. 'Che gnene avviasse.'

Note 3. Giacomo Rastelli was a native of Rimini, but was popularly known
as of Perugia, since he had resided long in that city. He was a famous
surgeon under several Popes until the year 1566, when he died at Rome,
age seventy-five.

Note 4. Giovanni Gaddi of the Florentine family was passionately
attached to men of art and letters. Yet he seems to have been somewhat
disagreeable in personal intercourse; for even Annibale Caro, who owed
much to his patronage, and lived for many years in his house, never
became attached to him. We shall see how he treated Cellini during a

Note 5. Some poems of Allegretti’s survive. He was a man of mark in the
literary society of the age. Giovanni Greco may have been a Giovanni
Vergezio, who presented Duke Cosimo with some Greek characters of
exquisite finish. Lodovico da Fano is mentioned as an excellent Latin
scholar. Annibale Caro was one of the most distinguished writers of
Italian prose and verse in the later Renaissance. He spent the latter
portion of his life in the service of the Farnesi.

Note 6. Messer Bastiano is the celebrated painter Sebastian del Piombo,
born 1485, died 1547.

Note 7. Battista Sanga, a Roman, secretary to Gianmatteo Giberti, the
good Archbishop of Verona, and afterwards to Clement VII. He was a great
Latinist, and one of those ecclesiastics who earnestly desired a reform
of the Church. He died, poisoned, at an early age.


MY brother, at this period, was also in Rome, serving Duke Alessandro,
on whom the Pope had recently conferred the Duchy of Penna. This prince
kept in his service a multitude of soldiers, worthy fellows, brought up
to valour in the school of that famous general Giovanni de’ Medici; and
among these was my brother, whom the Duke esteemed as highly as the
bravest of them. One day my brother went after dinner to the shop of a
man called Baccino della Croce in the Banchi, which all those
men-at-arms frequented. He had flung himself upon a settee, and was
sleeping. Just then the guard of the Bargello passed by; [1] they were
taking to prison a certain Captain Cisti, a Lombard, who had also been a
member of Giovanni’s troop, but was not in the service of the Duke. The
captain, Cattivanza degli Strozzi, chanced to be in the same shop; [2]
and when Cisti caught sight of him, he whispered: “I was bringing you
those crowns I owed; if you want them, come for them before they go with
me to prison.” Now Cattivanza had a way of putting his neighbours to the
push, not caring to hazard his own person. So, finding there around him
several young fellows of the highest daring, more eager than apt for so
serious an enterprise, he bade them catch up Captain Cisti and get the
money from him, and if the guard resisted, overpower the men, provided
they had pluck enough to do so.

The young men were but four, and all four of them without a beard. The
first was called Bertino Aldobrandi, another Anguillotto of Lucca; I
cannot recall the names of the rest. Bertino had been trained like a
pupil by my brother; and my brother felt the most unbounded love for
him. So then, off dashed the four brave lads, and came up with the guard
of the Bargello-upwards of fifty constables, counting pikes, arquebuses,
and two-handed-swords. After a few words they drew their weapons, and
the four boys so harried the guard, that if Captain Cattivanza had but
shown his face, without so much as drawing, they would certainly have
put the whole pack to flight. But delay spoiled all; for Bertino
received some ugly wounds and fell; at the same time, Anguillotto was
also hit in the right arm, and being unable to use his sword, got out of
the fray as well as he was able. The others did the same. Bertino
Aldobrandi was lifted from the ground seriously injured.

Note 1. The Bargello was the chief constable or sheriff in Italian
towns. I shall call him Bargello always in my translation, since any
English equivalent would be misleading. He did the rough work of
policing the city, and was consequently a mark for all the men of spirit
who disliked being kept in order. Giovio, in his Life of Cardinal Pompeo
Colonna, quite gravely relates how it was the highest ambition of young
Romans of spirit to murder the Bargello. He mentions, in particular, a
certain Pietro Margano, who had acquired great fame and popularity by
killing the Bargello of his day, one Cencio, in the Campo di Fiore. This
man became an outlaw, and was favourably received by Cardinal Colonna,
then at war with Clement VII.

Note 2. His baptismal name was Bernardo. Cattivanza was a nickname. He
fought bravely for Florence in the siege.


WHILE these things were happening, we were all at table; for that
morning we had dined more than an hour later than usual. On hearing the
commotion, one of the old man’s sons, the elder, rose from table to go
and look at the scuffle. He was called Giovanni; and I said to him: “For
Heaven’s sake, don’t go! In such matters one is always certain to lose,
while there is nothing to be gained.” His father spoke to like purpose:
“Pray, my son, don’t go!” But the lad, without heeding any one, ran down
the stairs. Reaching the Banchi, where the great scrimmage was, and
seeing Bertino lifted from the ground, he ran towards home, and met my
brother Cecchino on the way, who asked what was the matter. Though some
of the bystanders signed to Giovanni not to tell Cecchino, he cried out
like a madman how it was that Bertino Aldobrandi had been killed by the
guard. My poor brother gave vent to a bellow which might have been heard
ten miles away. Then he turned to Giovanni: “Ah me! but could you tell
me which of those men killed him for me?” [1] Giovanni said, yes, that
it was a man who had a big two-handed sword, with a blue feather in his
bonnet. My poor brother rushed ahead, and having recognised the homicide
by those signs, he threw himself with all his dash and spirit into the
middle of the band, and before his man could turn on guard, ran him
right through the guts, and with the sword’s hilt thrust him to the
ground. Then he turned upon the rest with such energy and daring, that
his one arm was on the point of putting the whole band to flight, had it
not been that, while wheeling round to strike an arquebusier, this man
fired in self-defence, and hit the brave unfortunate young fellow above
the knee of his right leg. While he lay stretched upon the ground, the
constables scrambled off in disorder as fast as they were able, lest a
pair to my brother should arrive upon the scene.

Noticing that the tumult was not subsiding, I too rose from the table,
and girding on my sword-for everybody wore one then-I went to the bridge
of Sant’ Agnolo, where I saw a group of several men assembled. On my
coming up and being recognised by some of them, they gave way before me,
and showed me what I least of all things wished to see, albeit I made
mighty haste to view the sight. On the instant I did not know Cecchino,
since he was wearing a different suit of clothes from that in which I
had lately seen him. Accordingly, he recognised me first, and said:
“Dearest brother, do not be upset by my grave accident; it is only what
might be expected in my profession: get me removed from here at once,
for I have but few hours to live.” They had acquainted me with the whole
event while he was speaking, in brief words befitting such occasion. So
I answered: “Brother, this is the greatest sorrow and the greatest trial
that could happen to me in the whole course of my life. But be of good
cheer; for before you lose sight of him who did the mischief, you shall
see yourself revenged by my hand.’ Our words on both sides were to the
purport, but of the shortest.

Note 1. 'Oimè, saprestimi tu dire che di quelli me I’ha morto?' The 'me'
is so emphatic, that, though it makes poor English, I have preserved it
in my version.


THE GUARD was now about fifty paces from us; for Maffio, their officer,
had made some of them turn back to take up the corporal my brother
killed. Accordingly, I quickly traversed that short space, wrapped in my
cape, which I had tightened round me, and came up with Maffio, whom I
should most certainly have murdered, for there were plenty of people
round, and I had wound my way among them. With the rapidity of
lightning, I had half drawn my sword from the sheath, when Berlinghier
Berlinghieri, a young man of the greatest daring and my good friend,
threw himself from behind upon my arms; he had four other fellows of
like kidney with him, who cried out to Maffio: “Away with you, for this
man here alone was killing you!” He asked: “Who is he?” and they
answered: “Own brother to the man you see there.” Without waiting to
hear more, he made haste for Torre di Nona; [1] and they said:
“Benvenuto, we prevented you against your will, but did it for your
good; now let us go to succour him who must die shortly.” Accordingly,
we turned and went back to my brother, whom I had at once conveyed into
a house. The doctors who were called in consultation, treated him with
medicaments, but could not decide to amputate the leg, which might
perhaps have saved him.

As soon as his wound had been dressed, Duke Alessandro appeared and most
affectionately greeted him. My brother had not as yet lost
consciousness; so he said to the Duke: “My lord, this only grieves me,
that your Excellency is losing a servant than whom you may perchance
find men more valiant in the profession of arms, but none more lovingly
and loyally devoted to your service than I have been.” The Duke bade him
do all he could to keep alive; for the rest, he well knew him to be a
man of worth and courage, He then turned to his attendants, ordering
them to see that the brave young fellow wanted for nothing.

When he was gone, my brother lost blood so copiously, for nothing could
be done to stop it, that he went off his head, and kept raving all the
following night, with the exception that once, when they wanted to give
him the communion, he said: “You would have done well to confess me
before; now it is impossible that I should receive the divine sacrament
in this already ruined frame; it will be enough if I partake of it by
the divine virtue of the eyesight, whereby it shall be transmitted into
my immortal soul, which only prays to Him for mercy and forgiveness.”
Having spoken thus, the host was elevated; but he straightway relapsed
into the same delirious ravings as before, pouring forth a torrent of
the most terrible frenzies and horrible imprecations that the mind of
man could imagine; nor did he cease once all that night until the day

When the sun appeared above our horizon, he turned to me and said:
“Brother, I do not wish to stay here longer, for these fellows will end
by making me do something tremendous, which may cause them to repent of
the annoyance they have given me.” Then he kicked out both his legs-the
injured limb we had enclosed in a very heavy box-and made as though he
would fling it across a horse’s back. Turning his face round to me, he
called out thrice-”Farewell, farewell!” and with the last word that most
valiant spirit passed away.

At the proper hour, toward nightfall, I had him buried with due ceremony
in the church of the Florentines; and afterwards I erected to his memory
a very handsome monument of marble, upon which I caused trophies and
banners to be carved. I must not omit to mention that one of his friends
had asked him who the man was that had killed him, and if he could
recognise him; to which he answered that he could, and gave his
description. My brother, indeed, attempted to prevent this coming to my
ears; but I got it very well impressed upon my mind, as will appear in
the sequel. 2

Note 1. The Torre di Nona was one of the principal prisons in Rome, used
especially for criminals condemned to death.

Note 2. Varchi, in his 'Storia Florentina,' lib. xi., gives a short
account of Cecchino Cellini’s death in Rome, mentioning also Bertino
Aldobrandi, in the attempt to revenge whom he lost his life.


RETURNING to the monument, I should relate that certain famous men of
letters, who knew my brother, composed for me an epitaph, telling me
that the noble young man deserved it. The inscription ran thus:-

'“Francisco Cellino Florentino, qui quod in teneris annis ad Ioannem
Medicem ducem plures victorias retulit et signifer fuit, facile
documentum dedit quantæ fortitudinis et consilii vir futurus erat, ni
crudelis fati archibuso transfossus, quinto ætatis lustro jaceret,
Benvenutus frater posuit. Obiit die' xxvii 'Maii' MD.XXIX.”

He was twenty-five years of age; and since the soldiers called him
Cecchino del Piffero, [1] his real name being Giovanfrancesco Cellini, I
wanted to engrave the former, by which he was commonly known, under the
armorial bearings of our family. This name then I had cut in fine
antique characters, all of which were broken save the first and last. I
was asked by the learned men who had composed that beautiful epitaph,
wherefore I used these broken letters; and my answer was, because the
marvellous framework of his body was spoiled and dead; and the reason
why the first and last remained entire was, that the first should
symbolise the great gift God had given him, namely, of a human soul,
inflamed with his divinity, the which hath never broken, while the
second represented the glorious renown of his brave actions. The thought


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