The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini

Part 3 out of 9

gave satisfaction, and several persons have since availed themselves of
my device. Close to the name I had the coat of us Cellini carved upon
the stone, altering it in some particulars. In Ravenna, which is a most
ancient city, there exist Cellini of our name in the quality of very
honourable gentry, who bear a lion rampant or upon a field of azure,
holding a lily gules in his dexter paw, with a label in chief and three
little lilies or. [2] These are the true arms of the Cellini. My father
showed me a shield as ours which had the paw only, together with the
other bearings; but I should prefer to follow those of the Cellini of
Ravenna, which I have described above. Now to return to what I caused to
be engraved upon my brother’s tomb: it was the lion’s paw, but instead
of a lily, I made the lion hold an axe, with the field of the scutcheon
quartered; and I put the axe in solely that I might not be unmindful to
revenge him.

Note 1. That is, Frank, the Fifer’s son.

Note 2. I believe Cellini meant here to write “on a chief argent a label
of four points, and three lilies gules.” He has tricked the arms thus in
a MS. of the Palatine Library. See Leclanchè, p. 103; see also Piatti,
vol. i. p. 233, and Plon, p. 2.


I WENT on applying myself with the utmost diligence upon the gold-work
for Pope Clement’s button. He was very eager to have it, and used to
send for me two or three times a week, in order to inspect it; and his
delight in the work always increased. Often would he rebuke and scold
me, as it were, for the great grief in which my brother’s loss had
plunged me; and one day, observing me more downcast and out of trim than
was proper, he cried aloud: “Benvenuto, oh! I did not know that you were
mad. Have you only just learned that there is no remedy against death?
One would think that you were trying to run after him.” When I left the
presence, I continued working at the jewel and the dies [1] for the
Mint; but I also took to watching the arquebusier who shot my brother,
as though he had been a girl I was in love with. The man had formerly
been in the light cavalry, but afterwards had joined the arquebusiers as
one of the Bargello’s corporals; and what increased my rage was that he
had used these boastful words: “If it had not been for me, who killed
that brave young man, the least trifle of delay would have resulted in
his putting us all to flight with great disaster.” When I saw that the
fever caused by always seeing him about was depriving me of sleep and
appetite, and was bringing me by degrees to sorry plight, I overcame my
repugnance to so low and not quite praiseworthy an enterprise, and made
my mind up one evening to rid myself of the torment. The fellow lived in
a house near a place called Torre Sanguigua, next door to the lodging of
one of the most fashionable courtesans in Rome, named Signora Antea. It
had just struck twenty-four, and he was standing at the house-door, with
his sword in hand, having risen from supper. With great address I stole
up to him, holding a large Pistojan dagger, [2] and dealt him a
back-handed stroke, with which I meant to cut his head clean off; but as
he turned round very suddenly, the blow fell upon the point of his left
shoulder and broke the bone. He sprang up, dropped his sword,
half-stunned with the great pain, and took to flight. I followed after,
and in four steps caught him up, when I lifted my dagger above his head,
which he was holding very low, and hit him in the back exactly at the
juncture of the nape-bone and the neck. The poniard entered this point
so deep into the bone, that, though I used all my strength to pull it
out, I was not able. For just at that moment four soldiers with drawn
swords sprang out from Antea’s lodging, and obliged me to set hand to my
own sword to defend my life. Leaving the poniard then, I made off, and
fearing I might be recognised, took refuge in the palace of Duke
Alessandro, which was between Piazza Navona and the Rotunda. [3] On my
arrival, I asked to see the Duke; who told me that, if I was alone, I
need only keep quiet and have no further anxiety, but to go on working
at the jewel which the Pope had set his heart on, and stay eight days
indoors. He gave this advice the more securely, because the soldiers had
now arrived who interrupted the completion of my deed; they held the
dagger in their hand, and were relating how the matter happened, and the
great trouble they had to pull the weapon from the neck and head-bone of
the man, whose name they did not know. Just then Giovan Bandini came up,
and said to them. [4] “That poniard is mine, and I lent it to Benvenuto,
who was bent on revenging his brother.” The soldiers were profuse in
their expressions of regret at having interrupted me, although my
vengeance had been amply satisfied.

More than eight days elapsed, and the Pope did not send for me according
to his custom. Afterwards he summoned me through his chamberlain, the
Bolognese nobleman I have already mentioned, who let me, in his own
modest manner, understand that his Holiness knew all, but was very well
inclined toward me, and that I had only to mind my work and keep quiet.
When we reached the presence, the Pope cast so menacing a glance towards
me, that the mere look of his eyes made me tremble. Afterwards, upon
examining my work his countenance cleared, and he began to praise me
beyond measure, saying that I had done a vast amount in a short time.
Then, looking me straight in the face, he added: “Now that you are
cured, Benvenuto, take heed how you live.” [5] I, who understood his
meaning, promised that I would. Immediately upon this, I opened a very
fine shop in the Banchi, opposite Raffaello, and there I finished the
jewel after the lapse of a few months.

Note 1. 'Ferri.' I have translated this word 'dies;' but it seems to
mean all the coining instruments, 'stampe' or 'conii' being the dies

Note 2. 'Pugnal pistolese;' it came in time to mean a cutlass.

Note 3. That is, the Pantheon.

Note 4. Bandini bears a distinguished name in Florentine annals. He
served Duke Alessandro in affairs of much importance; but afterwards he
betrayed the interests of his master, Duke Cosimo, in an embassy to
Charles V in 1543. It seems that he had then been playing into the hands
of Filippo Strozzi, for which offence he passed fifteen years in a
dungeon. See Varchi and Segni; also Montazio’s 'Prigionieri del Mastio
di Volterra,' cap. vii.

Note 5. This was the Pope’s hint to Cellini that he was aware of the
murder he had just committed.


THE POPE had sent me all those precious stones, except the diamond,
which was pawned to certain Genoese bankers for some pressing need he
had of money. The rest were in my custody, together with a model of the
diamond. I had five excellent journeymen, and in addition to the great
piece, I was engaged on several jobs; so that my shop contained property
of much value in jewels, gems, and gold and silver. I kept a shaggy dog,
very big and handsome, which Duke Alessandro gave me; the beast was
capital as a retriever, since he brought me every sort of birds and game
I shot, but he also served most admirably for a watchdog. It happened,
as was natural at the age of twenty-nine, that I had taken into my
service a girl of great beauty and grace, whom I used as a model in my
art, and who was also complaisant of her personal favours to me. Such
being the case, I occupied an apartment far away from my workmen’s
rooms, as well as from the shop; and this communicated by a little dark
passage with the maid’s bedroom. I used frequently to pass the night
with her; and though I sleep as lightly as ever yet did man upon this
earth, yet, after indulgence in sexual pleasure, my slumber is sometimes
very deep and heavy.

So it chanced one night: for I must say that a thief, under the pretext
of being a goldsmith, had spied on me, and cast his eyes upon the
precious stones, and made a plan to steal them. Well, then, this fellow
broke into the shop, where he found a quantity of little things in gold
and silver. He was engaged in bursting open certain boxes to get at the
jewels he had noticed, when my dog jumped upon him, and put him to much
trouble to defend himself with his sword. The dog, unable to grapple
with an armed man, ran several times through the house, and rushed into
the rooms of the journeymen, which had been left open because of the
great heat. When he found they paid no heed to his loud barking, he
dragged their bed-clothes off; and when they still heard nothing, he
pulled first one and then another by the arm till he roused them, and,
barking furiously, ran before to show them where he wanted them to go.
At last it became clear that they refused to follow; for the traitors,
cross at being disturbed, threw stones and sticks at him; and this they
could well do, for I had ordered them to keep all night a lamp alight
there; and in the end they shut their rooms tight; so the dog,
abandoning all hope of aid from such rascals, set out alone again on his
adventure. He ran down, and not finding the thief in the shop, flew
after him. When he got at him, he tore the cape off his back. It would
have gone hard with the fellow had he not called for help to certain
tailors, praying them for God’s sake to save him from a mad dog; and
they, believing what he said, jumped out and drove the dog off with much

After sunrise my workmen went into the shop, and saw that it had been
broken open and all the boxes smashed. They began to scream at the top
of their voices: “Ah, woe is me! Ah, woe is me!” The clamour woke me,
and I rushed out in a panic. Appearing thus before them, they cried out:
“Alas to us! for we have been robbed by some one, who has broken and
borne everything away!” These words wrought so forcibly upon my mind
that I dared not go to my big chest and look if it still held the jewels
of the Pope. So intense was the anxiety, that I seemed to lose my
eyesight, and told them they themselves must unlock the chest, and see
how many of the Pope’s gems were missing. The fellow were all of them in
their shirts; and when, on opening the chest, they saw the precious
stones and my work with them, they took heart of joy and shouted: “There
is no harm done; your piece and all the stones are here; but the thief
has left us naked to the shirt, because last night, by reason of the
burning heat, we took our clothes off in the shop and left them here.”
Recovering my senses, I thanked God, and said: “Go and get yourselves
new suits of clothes; I will pay when I hear at leisure how the whole
thing happened.” What caused me the most pain, and made me lose my
senses, and take fright-so contrary to my real nature-was the dread lest
peradventure folk should fancy I had trumped a story of the robber up to
steal the jewels. It had already been paid to Pope Clement by one of his
most trusted servants, and by others, that is, by Francesco del Nero,
Zana de’ Biliotti his accountant, the Bishop of Vasona, and several such
men: [1] “Why, most blessed Father, do you confide gems of that vast
value to a young fellow, who is all fire, more passionate for arms than
for his art, and not yet thirty years of age?” The Pope asked in answer
if any one of them knew that I had done aught to justify such
suspicions. Whereto Francesco del Nero, his treasurer, replied: [2] “No,
most blessed Father, because he has not as yet had an opportunity.
“Whereto the Pope rejoined: “I regard him as a thoroughly honest man;
and if I saw with my own eyes some crime he had committed, I should not
believe it.” This was the man who [3] caused me the greatest torment,
and who suddenly came up before my mind.

After telling the young men to provide themselves with fresh clothes, I
took my piece, together with the gems, setting them as well as I could
in their proper places, and went off at once with them to the Pope.
Francesco del Nero had already told him something of the trouble in my
shop, and had put suspicions in his head. So then, taking the thing
rather ill than otherwise, he shot a furious glance upon me, and cried
haughtily: “What have you come to do here? What is up?” “Here are all
your precious stones, and not one of them is missing.” At this the
Pope’s face cleared, and he said: “So then, you’re welcome.” I showed
him the piece, and while he was inspecting it, I related to him the
whole story of the thief and of my agony, and what had been my greatest
trouble in the matter. During this speech, he oftentimes turned round to
look me sharply in the eyes; and Francesco del Nero being also in the
presence, this seemed to make him half sorry that he had not guessed the
truth. At last, breaking into laughter at the long tale I was telling,
he sent me off with these words: “Go, and take heed to be an honest man,
as indeed I know that you are.”

Note 1. Of these people, we can trace the Bishop of Vasona. He was
Girolamo Schio or Schedo, a native of Vicenza, the confidential agent
and confessor of Clement VII., who obtained the See of Vaison in the
county of Avignon in 1523, and died at Rome in 1533. His successor in
the bishopric was Tomaso Cortesi, the Datary, mentioned above.

Note 2. Varchi gives a very ugly account of this man, Francesco del
Nero, who was nicknamed the 'Crà del Piccadiglio,' in his History of
Florence, book iii. “In the whole city of Florence there never was born,
in my belief, a man of such irreligion or of such sordid avarice.”
Giovio confirms the statement.

Note 3. 'Questo fu quello che.' This may be neuter: 'This was the
circumstance which.'


I WENT on working assiduously at the button, and at the same time
laboured for the Mint, when certain pieces of false money got abroad in
Rome, stamped with my own dies. They were brought at once to the Pope,
who, hearing things against me, said to Giacopo Balducci, the Master of
the Mint, “Take every means in your power to find the criminal; for we
are sure that Benvenuto is an honest fellow.” That traitor of a master,
being in fact my enemy, replied: “Would God, most blessed Father, that
it may turn out as you say; for we have some proofs against him.” Upon
this the Pope turned to the Governor of Rome, and bade him see he found
the malefactor. During those days the Pope sent for me, and leading
cautiously in conversation to the topic of the coins, asked me at the
fitting moment: “Benvenuto, should you have the heart to coin false
money?” To this I replied that I thought I could do so better than all
the rascals who gave their minds to such vile work; for fellows who
practice lewd trades of that sort are not capable of earning money, nor
are they men of much ability. I, on the contrary, with my poor wits
could gain enough to keep me comfortably; for when I set dies for the
Mint, each morning before dinner I put at least three crowns into my
pocket; this was the customary payment for the dies, and the Master of
the Mint bore me a grudge, because he would have liked to have them
cheaper; so then, what I earned with God’s grace and the world’s,
sufficed me, and by coining false money I should not have made so much.
The pope very well perceived my drift; and whereas he had formerly given
orders that they should see I did not fly from Rome, he now told them to
look well about and have no heed of me, seeing he was ill-disposed to
anger me, and in this way run the risk of losing me. The officials who
received these orders were certain clerks of the Camera, who made the
proper search, as was their duty, and soon found the rogue. He was a
stamper in the service of the Mint, named Cesare Macherone, and a Roman
citizen. Together with this man they detected a metal-founder of the
Mint. 1

Note 1. The word in Cellini is ovolatore di zecca.


ON that very day, as I was passing through the Piazza Navona, and had my
fine retriever with me, just when we came opposite the gate of the
Bargello, my dog flew barking loudly inside the door upon a youth, who
had been arrested at the suit of a man called Donnino (a goldsmith from
Parma, and a former pupil of Caradosso), on the charge of having robbed
him. The dog strove so violently to tear the fellow to pieces, that the
constables were moved to pity. It so happened that he was pleading his
own cause with boldness, and Donnino had not evidence enough to support
the accusation; and what was more, one of the corporals of the guard, a
Genoese, was a friend of the young man’s father. The upshot was that,
what with the dog and with those other circumstances, they were on the
point of releasing their prisoner. When I came up, the dog had lost all
fear of sword or staves, and was flying once more at the young man; so
they told me if I did not call the brute off they would kill him. I held
him back as well as I was able; but just then the fellow, in the act of
readjusting his cape, let fall some paper packets from the hood, which
Donnino recognised as his property. I too recognised a little ring;
whereupon I called out. “This is the thief who broke into my shop and
robbed it; and therefore my dog knows him;” then I loosed the dog, who
flew again upon the robber. On this the fellow craved for mercy,
promising to give back whatever he possessed of mine. When I had secured
the dog, he proceeded to restore the gold and silver and the rings which
he had stolen from me, and twenty-five crowns in addition. Then he cried
once more to me for pity. I told him to make his peace with God, for I
should do him neither good nor evil. So I returned to my business; and a
few days afterwards, Cesare Macherone, the false coiner, was hanged in
the Banchi opposite the Mint; his accomplice was sent to the galleys;
the Genoese thief was hanged in the Campo di Fiore, while I remained in
better repute as an honest man than I had enjoyed before.


WHEN I had nearly finished my piece, there happened that terrible
inundation which flooded the whole of Rome. [1] I waited to see what
would happen; the day was well-nigh spent, for the clocks struck
twenty-two and the water went on rising formidably. Now the front of my
house and shop faced the Banchi, but the back was several yards higher,
because it turned toward Monte Giordano; accordingly, bethinking me
first of my own safety and in the next place of my honour, I filled my
pockets with the jewels, and gave the gold-piece into the custody of my
workmen, and then descended barefoot from the back-windows, and waded as
well as I could until I reached Monte Cavallo. There I sought out Messer
Giovanni Gaddi, clerk of the Camera, and Bastiano Veneziano, the
painter. To the former I confided the precious stones, to keep in
safety: he had the same regard for me as though I had been his brother.
A few days later, when the rage of the river was spent, I returned to my
workshop, and finished the piece with such good fortune, through God’s
grace and my own great industry, that it was held to be the finest
masterpiece which had been ever seen in Rome. [2]

When then I took it to the Pope, he was insatiable in praising me, and
said: “Were I but a wealthy emperor, I would give my Benvenuto as much
land as his eyes could survey; yet being nowadays but needy bankrupt
potentates, we will at any rate give him bread enough to satisfy his
modest wishes.” I let the Pope run on to the end of his rhodomontade,
[3] and then asked him for a mace-bearer’s place which happened to be
vacant. He replied that he would grant me something of far greater
consequence. I begged his Holiness to bestow this little thing on me
meanwhile by way of earnest. He began to laugh, and said he was willing,
but that he did not wish me to serve, and that I must make some
arrangement with the other mace-bearers to be exempted. He would allow
them through me a certain favour, for which they had already petitioned,
namely, the right of recovering their fees at law. This was accordingly
done, and that mace-bearer’s office brought me in little less than 200
crowns a year. 4

Note 1. This took place on the 8th and 9th October, 1530.

Note 2. This famous masterpiece was preserved in the Castle of S. Angelo
during the Papal Government of Rome. It was brought out on Christmas,
Easter, and S. Peter’s days.

Note 3. 'Quella sua smania di parole.'

Note 4. Cellini received this post among the Mazzieri (who walked like
beadles before the Pope) on April 14, 1531. He resigned it in favour of
Pietro Cornaro of Venice in 1535.


I CONTINUED to work for the Pope, executing now one trifle and now
another, when he commissioned me to design a chalice of exceeding
richness. So I made both drawing and model for the piece. The latter was
constructed of wood and wax. Instead of the usual top, I fashioned three
figures of a fair size in the round; they represented Faith, Hope, and
Charity. Corresponding to these, at the base of the cup, were three
circular histories in bas-relief. One was the Nativity of Christ, the
second the Resurrection, and the third S. Peter crucified head
downwards; for thus I had received commission. While I had this work in
hand, the Pope was often pleased to look at it; wherefore, observing
that his Holiness had never thought again of giving me anything, and
knowing that a post in the Piombo was vacant, I asked for this one
evening. The good Pope, quite oblivious of his extravagances at the
termination of the last piece, said to me: “That post in the Piombo is
worth more than 800 crowns a year, so that if I gave it you, you would
spend your time in scratching your paunch, [1] and your magnificent
handicraft would be lost, and I should bear the blame.” I replied at
once as thus: “Cats of a good breed mouse better when they are fat than
starving; and likewise honest men who possess some talent, exercise it
to far nobler purport when they have the wherewithal to live abundantly;
wherefore princes who provide such folk with competences, let your
Holiness take notice, are watering the roots of genius; for genius and
talent, at their birth, come into this world lean and scabby; and your
Holiness should also know that I never asked for the place with the hope
of getting it. Only too happy I to have that miserable post of
mace-bearer. On the other I built but castles in the air. Your Holiness
will do well, since you do not care to give it me, to bestow it on a man
of talent who deserves it, and not upon some fat ignoramus who will
spend his time scratching his paunch, if I may quote your holiness’ own
words. Follow the example of Pope Giulio’s illustrious memory, who
conferred an office of the same kind upon Bramante, that most admirable

Immediately on finishing this speech, I made my bow, and went off in a
fury. Then Bastiano Veneziano the painter approached, and said: “Most
blessed Father, may your Holiness be willing to grant it to one who
works assiduously in the exercise of some talent; and as your Holiness
knows that I am diligent in my art, I beg that I may be thought worthy
of it.” The Pope replied: “That devil Benvenuto will not brook rebuke. I
was inclined to give it him, but it is not right to be so haughty with a
Pope. Therefore I do not well know what I am to do.” The Bishop of
Vasona then came up, and put in a word for Bastiano, saying: “Most
blessed Father, Benvenuto is but young; and a sword becomes him better
than a friar’s frock. Let your Holiness give the place to this ingenious
person Bastiano. Some time or other you will be able to bestow on
Benvenuto a good thing, perhaps more suitable to him than this would
be.” Then the Pope turning to Messer Bartolommeo Valori, told him: “When
next you meet Benvenuto, let him know from me that it was he who got
that office in the Piombo for Bastiano the painter, and add that he may
reckon on obtaining the next considerable place that falls; meanwhile
let him look to his behaviour, and finish my commissions.” [2]

The following evening, two hours after sundown, I met Messer Bartolommeo
Valori [3] at the corner of the Mint; he was preceded by two torches,
and was going in haste to the Pope, who had sent for him. On my taking
off my hat, he stopped and called me, and reported in the most friendly
manner all the messages the Pope had sent me. I replied that I should
complete my work with greater diligence and application than any I had
yet attempted, but without the least hope of having any reward whatever
from the Pope. Messer Bartolommeo reproved me, saying that this was not
the way in which one ought to reply to the advances of a Pope. I
answered that I should be mad to reply otherwise-mad if I based my hopes
on such promises, being certain to get nothing. So I departed, and went
off to my business.

Messer Bartolommeo must have reported my audacious speeches to the Pope,
and more perhaps than I had really said; for his Holiness waited above
two months before he sent to me, and during that while nothing would
have induced me to go uncalled for to the palace. Yet he was dying with
impatience to see the chalice, and commissioned Messer Ruberto Pucci to
give heed to what I was about. [4] That right worthy fellow came daily
to visit me, and always gave me some kindly word, which I returned. The
time was drawing nigh now for the Pope to travel toward Bologna; [5] so
at last, perceiving that I did not mean to come to him, he made Messer
Ruberto bid me bring my work, that he might see how I was getting on.
Accordingly, I took it; and having shown, as the piece itself proved,
that the most important part was finished, I begged him to advance me
five hundred crowns, partly on account, and partly because I wanted gold
to complete the chalice. The Pope said: “Go on, go on at work till it is
finished.” I answered, as I took my leave, that I would finish it if he
paid me the money. And so I went away.

Note 1. 'Grattare il corpo,' which I have translated scratch your
paunch, is equivalent to 'twirl your thumbs.'

Note 2. The office of the Piombo in Rome was a bureau in which leaden
seals were appended to Bulls and instruments of state. It remained for a
long time in the hands of the Cistercians; but it used also to be
conferred on laymen, among whom were Bremante and Sebastiano del Piombo.
When the latter obtained it, he neglected his art and gave himself up to
“scratching his paunch,” as Cellini predicted.

Note 3. Bartolommeo or Baccio Valori, a devoted adherent of the Medici,
played an important part in Florentine history. He was Clement’s
commissary to the Prince of Orange during the siege. Afterwards, feeling
himself ill repaid for his services, he joined Filippo Strozzi in his
opposition to the Medicean rule, and was beheaded in 1537, together with
his son and a nephew.

Note 4. Roberto Pucci was another of the devoted Medicean partisans who
remained true to his colours. He sat among the forty-eight senators of
Alessandro, and was made a Cardinal by Paul III. in 1534.

Note 5. On November 18, 1532, Clement went to meet Charles V. at
Bologna, where, in 1529, he had already given him the Imperial crown.


WHEN the Pope took his journey to Bologna, he left Cardinal Salviati as
Legate of Rome, and gave him commission to push the work that I was
doing forward, adding: “Benvenuto is a fellow who esteems his own great
talents but slightly, and us less; look to it then that you keep him
always going, so that I may find the chalice finished on my return.”

That beast of a Cardinal sent for me after eight days, bidding me bring
the piece up. On this I went to him without the piece. No sooner had I
shown my face, than he called out: “Where is that onion-stew of yours?
[1] Have you got it ready?” I answered: “O most reverend Monsignor, I
have not got my onion-stew ready, nor shall I make it ready, unless you
give me onions to concoct it with.” At these words the Cardinal, who
looked more like a donkey than a man, turned uglier by half than he was
naturally; and wanting at once to cut the matter short, cried out: “I’ll
send you to a galley, and then perhaps you’ll have the grace [2] to go
on with your labour.” The bestial manners of the man made me a beast
too; and I retorted: “Monsignor, send me to the galleys when I’ve done
deeds worthy of them; but for my present laches, I snap my fingers at
your galleys: and what is more, I tell you that, just because of you, I
will not set hand further to my piece. Don’t send for me again, for I
won’t appear, no, not if you summon me by the police.”

After this, the good Cardinal tried several times to let me know that I
ought to go on working, and to bring him what I was doing to look at. I
only told his messengers: “Say to Monsignor that he must send me onions,
if he wants me to get my stew ready.” Nor gave I ever any other answer;
so that he threw up the commission in despair.

Note 1. 'Cipollata.' Literally, a show of onions and pumpkins;
metaphorically, a mess, gallimaufry.

Note 2. 'Arai di grazia di.' I am not sure whether I have given the
right shade of meaning in the text above. It may mean: 'You will be


THE POPE came back from Bologna, and sent at once for me, because the
Cardinal had written the worst he could of my affairs in his despatches.
He was in the hottest rage imaginable, and bade me come upon the instant
with my piece. I obeyed. Now, while the Pope was staying at Bologna, I
had suffered from an attack of inflammation in the eyes, so painful that
I scarce could go on living for the torment; and this was the chief
reason why I had not carried out my work. The trouble was so serious
that I expected for certain to be left without my eyesight; and I had
reckoned up the sum on which I could subsist, if I were blind for life.
Upon the way to the Pope, I turned over in my mind what I should put
forward to excuse myself for not having been able to advance his work. I
thought that while he was inspecting the chalice, I might tell him of my
personal embarrassments. However, I was unable to do so; for when I
arrived in the presence, he broke out coarsely at me: “Come here with
your work; is it finished?” I displayed it; and his temper rising, he
exclaimed: “In God’s truth I tell thee, thou that makest it thy business
to hold no man in regard, that, were it not for decency and order, I
would have thee chucked together with thy work there out of windows.”
Accordingly, when I perceived that the Pope had become no better than a
vicious beast, my chief anxiety was how I could manage to withdraw from
his presence. So, while he went on bullying, I tucked the piece beneath
my cape, and muttered under my breath: “The whole world could not compel
a blind man to execute such things as these.” Raising his voice still
higher, the Pope shouted: “Come here; what say’st thou?” I stayed in two
minds, whether or not to dash at full speed down the staircase; then I
took my decision and threw myself upon my knees, shouting as loudly as I
could, for he too had not ceased from shouting: “If an infirmidy has
blinded me, am I bound to go on working?” He retorted: “You saw well
enough to make your way hither, and I don’t believe one word of what you
say.” I answered, for I noticed he had dropped his voice a little: “Let
your Holiness inquire of your physician, and you will find the truth
out.” He said: “So ho! softly; at leisure we shall hear if what you say
is so.” Then, perceiving that he was willing to give me hearing, I
added: “I am convinced that the only cause of this great trouble which
has happened to me is Cardinal Salviati; for he sent to me immediately
after your holiness’ departure, and when I presented myself, he called
my work a stew of onions, and told me he would send me to complete it in
a galley; and such was the effect upon me of his knavish words, that in
my passion I felt my face in flame, and so intolerable a heat attacked
my eyes that I could not find my own way home. Two days afterwards,
cataracts fell on both my eyes; I quite lost my sight, and after your
holiness’ departure I have been unable to work at all.”

Rising from my knees, I left the presence without further license. It
was afterwards reported to me that the Pope has said: “One can give
commissions, but not the prudence to perform them. I did not tell the
Cardinal to go so brutally about this business. [1] If it is true that
he is suffering from his eyes, of which I shall get information through
my doctor, one ought to make allowance for him.” A great gentleman,
intimate with the Pope, and a man of very distinguished parts, happened
to be present. He asked who I was, using terms like these: “Most blessed
Father, pardon if I put a question. I have seen you yield at one and the
same time to the hottest anger I ever observed, and then to the warmest
compassion; so I beg your Holiness to tell me who the man is; for if he
is a person worthy to be helped, I can teach him a secret which may cure
him of that infirmity.” The Pope replied: “He is the greatest artist who
was ever born in his own craft; one day, when we are together, I will
show you some of his marvellous works, and the man himself to boot; and
I shall be pleased if we can see our way toward doing something to
assist him.” Three days after this, the Pope sent for me after
dinnertime, and I found that great noble in the presence. On my arrival,
the Pope had my cope-button brought, and I in the meantime drew forth my
chalice. The nobleman said, on looking at it, that he had never seen a
more stupendous piece of work. When the button came, he was still more
struck with wonder: and looking me straight in the face, he added: “The
man is young, I trow, to be so able in his art, and still apt enough to
learn much.” He then asked me what my name was. I answered: “My name is
Benvenuto.” He replied: “And Benvenuto shall I be this day to you. Take
flower-de-luces, stalk, blossom, root, together; then decoct them over a
slack fire; and with the liquid bathe your eyes several times a day; you
will most certainly be cured of that weakness; but see that you purge
first, and then go forward with the lotion.” The Pope gave me some kind
words, and so I went away half satisfied.

Note 1. 'Che mettessi tanta mazza.'


IT was true indeed that I had got the sickness; but I believe I caught
it from that fine young servant-girl whom I was keeping when my house
was robbed. The French disease, for it was that, remained in me more
than four months dormant before it showed itself, and then it broke out
over my whole body at one instant. It was not like what one commonly
observes, but covered my flesh with certain blisters, of the size of
six-pences, and rose-coloured. The doctors would not call it the French
disease, albeit I told them why I thought it was that. I went on
treating myself according to their methods, but derived no benefit. At
last, then, I resolved on taking the wood, against the advice of the
first physicians in Rome; [1] and I took it with the most scrupulous
discipline and rules of abstinence that could be thought of; and after a
few days, I perceived in me a great amendment. The result was that at
the end of fifty days I was cured and as sound as a fish in the water.

Some time afterwards I sought to mend my shattered health, and with this
view I betook myself to shooting when the winter came in. That
amusement, however, led me to expose myself to wind and water, and to
staying out in marsh-lands; so that, after a few days, I fell a hundred
times more ill than I had been before. I put myself once more under
doctors’ orders, and attended to their directions, but grew always
worse. When the fever fell upon me, I resolved on having recourse again
to the wood; but the doctors forbade it, saying that I took if it with
the fever on me, I should not have a week to live. However, I made my
mind up to disobey their orders, observed the same diet as I had
formerly adopted, and after drinking the decoction four days, was wholly
rid of fever. My health improved enormously; and while I was following
this cure, I went on always working at the models of the chalice. I may
add that, during the time of that strict abstinence, I produced finer
things and of more exquisite invention than at any other period of my
life. After fifty days my health was re-established, and I continued
with the utmost care to keep it and confirm it. When at last I ventured
to relax my rigid diet, I found myself as wholly free from those
infirmities as though I had been born again. Although I took pleasure in
fortifying the health I so much longed for, yet I never left off
working; both the chalice and the Mint had certainly as much of my
attention as was due to them and to myself.

Note 1. That is, Guiacum, called by the Italians 'legno santo.'


IT happened that Cardinal Salviati, who, as I have related, entertained
an old hostility against me, had been appointed Legate to Parma. In that
city a certain Milanese goldsmith, named Tobbia, was taken up for false
coining, and condemned to the gallows and the stake. Representations in
his favour, as being a man of great ability, were made to the Cardinal,
who suspended the execution of the sentence, and wrote to the Pope,
saying the best goldsmith in the world had come into his hands,
sentenced to death for coining false money, but that he was a good
simple fellow, who could plead in his excuse that he had taken counsel
with his confessor, and had received, as he said, from him permission to
do this. Thereto he added: “If you send for this great artist to Rome,
your Holiness will bring down the overweening arrogance of your
favourite Benvenuto, and I am quite certain that Tobbia’s work will
please you far more than his.” The Pope accordingly sent for him at
once; and when the man arrived, he made us both appear before him, and
commissioned each of us to furnish a design for mounting an unicorn’s
horn, the finest which had ever been seen, and which had been sold for
17,000 ducats of the Camera. The Pope meant to give it to King Francis;
but first he wished it richly set in gold, and ordered us to make
sketches for this purpose. When they were finished, we took them to the
Pope. That of Tobbia was in the form of a candlestick, the horn being
stuck in it like a candle, and at the base of the piece he had
introduced four little unicorns’ heads of a very poor design. When I saw
the thing, I could not refrain from laughing gently in my sleeve. The
Pope noticed this, and cried: “Here, show me your sketch!” It was a
single unicorn’s head, proportioned in size to the horn. I had designed
the finest head imaginable; for I took it partly from the horse and
partly from the stag, enriching it with fantastic mane and other
ornaments. Accordingly, no sooner was it seen, than every one decided in
my favour. There were, however, present at the competition certain
Milanese gentlemen of the first consequence, who said: “Most blessed
Father, your Holiness is sending this magnificent present into France;
please to reflect that the French are people of no culture, and will not
understand the excellence of Benvenuto’s work; pyxes like this one of
Tobbia’s will suit their taste well, and these too can be finished
quicker. [1] Benvenuto will devote himself to completing your chalice,
and you will get two pieces done in the same time; moreover, this poor
man, whom you have brought to Rome, will have the chance to be
employed.” The Pope, who was anxious to obtain his chalice, very
willingly adopted the advice of the Milanese gentlefolk.

Next day, therefore, he commissioned Tobbia to mount the unicorn’s horn,
and sent his Master of the Wardrobe to bid me finish the chalice. [2] I
replied that I desired nothing in the world more than to complete the
beautiful work I had begun: and if the material had been anything but
gold, I could very easily have done so myself; but it being gold, his
Holiness must give me some of the metal if he wanted me to get through
with my work. To this the vulgar courtier answered: “Zounds! don’t ask
the Pope for gold, unless you mean to drive him into such a fury as will
ruin you.” I said: “Oh, my good lord, will your lordship please to tell
me how one can make bread without flour? Even so without gold this piece
of mine cannot be finished.” The Master of the Wardrobe, having an
inkling that I had made a fool of him, told me he should report all I
had spoken to his Holiness; and this he did. The Pope flew into a
bestial passion, and swore he would wait to see if I was so mad as not
to finish it. More than two months passed thus; and though I had
declared I would not give a stroke to the chalice, I did not do so, but
always went on working with the greatest interest. When he perceived I
was not going to bring it, he began to display real displeasure, and
protested he would punish me in one way or another.

A jeweller from Milan in the Papal service happened to be present when
these words were spoken. He was called Pompeo, and was closely related
to Messer Trajano, the most favoured servant of Pope Clement. The two
men came, upon a common understanding, to him and said: “If your
Holiness were to deprive Benvenuto of the Mint, perhaps he would take it
into his head to complete the chalice.” To this the Pope answered” “No;
two evil things would happen: first, I should be ill served in the Mint,
which concerns me greatly; and secondly, I should certainly not get the
chalice.” The two Milanese, observing the Pope indisposed towards me, at
last so far prevailed that he deprived me of the Mint, and gave it to a
young Perugian, commonly known as Fagiuolo. [3] Pompeo came to inform me
that his Holiness had taken my place in the Mint away, and that if I did
not finish the chalice, he would deprive me of other things besides. I
retorted: “Tell his Holiness that he has deprived himself and not me of
the Mint, and that he will be doing the same with regard to those other
things of which he speaks; and that if he wants to confer the post on me
again, nothing will induce me to accept it.” The graceless and unlucky
fellow went off like an arrow to find the Pope and report this
conversation; he added also something of his own invention. Eight days
later, the Pope sent the same man to tell me that he did not mean me to
finish the chalice, and wanted to have it back precisely at the point to
which I had already brought it. I told Pompeo: “This thing is not like
the Mint, which it was in his power to take away; but five hundred
crowns which I received belong to his Holiness, and I am ready to return
them; the piece itself is mine, and with it I shall do what I think
best.” Pompeo ran off to report my speech, together with some biting
words which in my righteous anger I had let fly at himself.

Note 1. The word I have translated 'pyxes' is 'ciborii,' vessels for
holding the Eucharist.

Note 2. The Master of the Wardrobe was at that time Giovanni Aleotti. I
need hardly remind my readers that 'Guardaroba' or wardrobe was the
apartment in a palace where arms, plate, furniture, and clothes were
stored. We shall find, when we come to Cellini’s service under Duke
Cosimo, that princes spent much of their time in this place.

Note 3. Vasari mentions a Girolamo Fagiuoli, who flourished at this
period but calls him a Bolognese.


AFTER the lapse of three days, on a Thursday, there came to me two
favourite Chamberlains of his Holiness; one of them is alive now, and a
bishop; he was called Messer Pier Giovanni, and was an officer of the
wardrobe; the other could claim nobler birth, but his name has escaped
me. On arriving they spoke as follows: The Pope hath sent us. Benvenuto;
and since you have not chosen to comply with his request on easy terms,
his commands now are that either you should give us up his piece, or
that we should take you to prison.” Thereupon I looked them very
cheerfully in the face, replying: “My lords, if I were to give the work
to his Holiness, I should be giving what is mine and not his, and at
present I have no intention to make him this gift. I have brought it far
forward with great labour, and do not want it to go into the hands of
some ignorant beast who will destroy it with no trouble.” While I spoke
thus, the goldsmith Tobbia was standing by, who even presumptuously
asked me for the models also of my work. What I retorted, in words
worthy of such a rascal, need not here be repeated. Then, when those
gentlemen, the Chamberlains, kept urging me to do quickly what I meant
to do, I told them I was ready. So I took my cape up, and before I left
the shop, I turned to an image of Christ, with solemn reverence and cap
in hand, praying as thus: “O gracious and undying, just and holy our
Lord, all the things thou doest are according to thy justice, which hath
no peer on earth. Thou knowest that I have exactly reached the age of
thirty, and that up to this hour I was never threatened with a prison
for any of my actions. Now that it is thy will that I should go to
prison, with all my heart I thank thee for this dispensation.” Thereat I
turned round to the two Chamberlains, and addressed them with a certain
lowering look I have: “A man of my quality deserved no meaner catchpoles
than your lordships: place me between you, and take me as your prisoner
where you like.” Those two gentlemen, with the most perfect manners,
burst out laughing, and put me between them; and so we went off, talking
pleasantly, until they brought me to the Governor of Rome, who was
called Il Magalotto. [1] When I reached him (and the Procurator-Fiscal
was with him both waiting for me), the Pope’s Chamberlains, still
laughing, said to the Governor: “We give up to you this prisoner; now
see you take good care of him. We are very glad to have acted in the
place of your agents; for Benvenuto has told us that this being his
first arrest, he deserved no catchpoles of inferior station than we
are.” Immediately on leaving us, they sought the Pope; and when they had
minutely related the whole matter, he made at first as though he would
give way to passion, but afterwards he put control upon himself and
laughed, because there were then in the presence certain lords and
cardinals, my friends, who had warmly espoused my cause.

Meanwhile, the Governor and the Fiscal were at me, partly bullying,
partly expostulating, partly giving advice, and saying it was only
reason that a man who ordered work from another should be able to
withdraw it at his choice, and in any way which he thought best. To this
I replied that such proceedings were not warranted by justice, neither
could a Pope act thus; for that a Pope is not of the same kind as
certain petty tyrant princes, who treat their folk as badly as they can,
without regard to law or justice; and so a Vicar of Christ may not
commit any of these acts of violence. Thereat the Governor, assuming his
police-court style of threatening and bullying, began to say:
“Benvenuto, Benvenuto, you are going about to make me treat you as you
deserve.” “You will treat me with honour and courtesy, if you wish to
act as I deserve.” Taking me up again, he cried: “Send for the work at
once, and don’t wait for a second order.” I responded: “My lords, grant
me the favour of being allowed to say four more words in my defence.”
The Fiscal, who was a far more reasonable agent of police than the
Governor, turned to him and said: “Monsignor, suppose we let him say a
hundred words, if he likes: so long as he gives up the work, that is
enough for us.” I spoke: “If any man you like to name had ordered a
palace or a house to be built, he could with justice tell the
master-mason:’I do not want you to go on working at my house or palace;’
and after paying him his labour, he would have the right to dismiss him.
Likewise, if a nobleman gave commission for a jewel of a thousand
crowns’ value to be set, when he saw that the jeweller was not serving
him according to his desire, he could say:’Give me back my stone, for I
do not want your work.’ But in a case of this kind none of those
considerations apply; there is neither house nor jewel here; nobody can
command me further than that I should return the five hundred crowns
which I have had. Therefore, monsignori, do everything you can do; for
you will get nothing from me beyond the five hundred crowns. Go and say
this to the Pope. Your threats do not frighten me at all; for I am an
honest man, and stand in no fear of my sins.” The Governor and Fiscal
rose, and said they were going to the Pope, and should return with
orders which I should soon learn to my cost. So I remained there under
guard. I walked up and down a large hall, and they were about three
hours away before they came back from the Pope. In that while the flower
of our nation among the merchants came to visit me, imploring me not to
persist in contending with a Pope, for this might be the ruin of me. I
answered them that I had made my mind up quite well what I wished to do.

Note 1. Gregorio Magalotti was a Roman. The Procurator-Fiscal was then
Benedetto Valenti. Magalotti is said to have discharged his office with
extreme severity, and to have run great risks of his life in consequence.


NO sooner had the Governor returned, together with the Procurator, from
the palace, than he sent for me, and spoke to this effect: “Benvenuto, I
am certainly sorry to come back from the Pope with such commands as I
have received; you must either produce the chalice on the instant, or
look to your affairs.” Then I replied that “inasmuch as I had never to
that hour believed a holy Vicar of Christ could commit an unjust act, so
I should like to see it before I did believe it; therefore do the utmost
that you can.” The Governor rejoined: “I have to report a couple of
words more from the Pope to you, and then I will execute the orders
given me. He says that you must bring your work to me here, and that
after I have seen it put into a box and sealed, I must take it to him.
He engages his word not to break the seal, and to return the piece to
you untouched. But this much he wants to have done, in order to preserve
his own honour in the affair.” In return to this speech, I answered,
laughing, that I would very willingly give up my work in the way he
mentioned, because I should be glad to know for certain what a Pope’s
word was really worth.

Accordingly, I sent for my piece, and having had it sealed as described,
gave it up to him. The Governor repaired again to the Pope, who took the
box, according to what the Governor himself told me, and turned it
several times about. Then he asked the Governor if he had seen the work;
and he replied that he had, and that it had been sealed up in his
presence, and added that it had struck him as a very admirable piece.
Thereupon the Pope said: “You shall tell Benvenuto that Popes have
authority to bind and loose things of far greater consequence than
this;” and while thus speaking he opened the box with some show of
anger, taking off the string and seals with which it was done up.
Afterwards he paid it prolonged attention; and, as I subsequently heard,
showed it to Tobbia the gold-smith, who bestowed much praise upon it.
Then the Pope asked him if he felt equal to producing a piece in that
style. On his saying yes, the Pope told him to follow it out exactly;
then turned to the Governor and said: “See whether Benvenuto will give
it up; for if he does, he shall be paid the value fixed on it by men of
knowledge in this art; but if he is really bent on finishing it himself,
let him name a certain time; and if you are convinced that he means to
do it, let him have all the reasonable accommodations he may ask for.”
The Governor replied: “Most blessed Father, I know the violent temper of
this young man; so let me have authority to give him a sound rating
after my own fashion.” The Pope told him to do what he liked with words,
though he was sure he would make matters worse; and if at last he could
do nothing else, he must order me to take the five hundred crowns to his
jeweller, Pompeo.

The Governor returned, sent for me into his cabinet, and casting one of
his catchpole’s glances, began to speak as follows: “Popes have
authority to loose and bind the whole world, and what they do is
immediately ratified in heaven. Behold your box, then, which has been
opened and inspected by his Holiness.” I lifted up my voice at once, and
said: “I thank God that now I have learned and can report what the faith
of Popes is made of.” Then the Governor launched out into brutal
bullying words and gestures; but perceiving that they came to nothing,
he gave up his attempt as desperate, and spoke in somewhat milder tones
after this wise: “Benvenuto, I am very sorry that you are so blind to
your own interest; but since it is so, go and take the five hundred
crowns, when you think fit, to Pompeo.” I took my piece up, went away,
and carried the crowns to Pompeo on the instant. It is most likely that
the Pope had counted on some want of money or other opportunity
preventing me from bringing so considerable a sum at once, and was
anxious in this way to repiece the broken thread of my obedience. When
then he saw Pompeo coming to him with a smile upon his lips and the
money in his hand, he soundly rated him, and lamented that the affair
had turned out so. Then he said: “Go find Benvenuto in his shop, and
treat him with all the courtesies of which your ignorant and brutal
nature is capable, and tell him that if he is willing to finish that
piece for a reliquary to hold the Corpus Domini when I walk in
procession, I will allow him the conveniences he wants in order to
complete it; provided only that he goes on working.” Pompeo came to me,
called me outside the shop, and heaped on me the most mawkish caresses
of a donkey, [1] reporting everything the Pope had ordered. I lost no
time in answering that “the greatest treasure I could wish for in the
world was to regain the favour of so great a Pope, which had been lost
to me, not indeed by my fault, but by the fault of my overwhelming
illness and the wickedness of those envious men who take pleasure in
making mischief; and since the Pope has plenty of servants, do not let
him send you round again, if you value your life... nay, look well to
your safety. I shall not fail, by night or day, to think and do
everything I can in the Pope’s service; and bear this well in mind, that
when you have reported these words to his Holiness, you never in any way
whatever meddle with the least of my affairs, for I will make you
recognise your errors by the punishment they merit.” The fellow related
everything to the Pope, but in far more brutal terms than I had used;
and thus the matter rested for a time while I again attended to my shop
and business.

Note 1. 'Le più isvenevole carezze d’asino.'


TOBBIA the goldsmith meanwhile worked at the setting and the decoration
of the unicorn’s horn. The Pope, moreover, commissioned him to begin the
chalice upon the model he had seen in mine. But when Tobbia came to show
him what he had done, he was very discontented, and greatly regretted
that he had broken with me, blaming all the other man’s works and the
people who had introduced them to him; and several times Baccino della
Croce came from him to tell me that I must not neglect the reliquary. I
answered that I begged his Holiness to let me breathe a little after the
great illness I had suffered, and from which I was not as yet wholly
free, adding that I would make it clear to him that all the hours in
which I could work should be spent in his service. I had indeed begun to
make his portrait, and was executing a medal in secret. I fashioned the
steel dies for stamping this medal in my own house; while I kept a
partner in my workshop, who had been my prentice and was called Felice.

At that time, as is the wont of young men, I had fallen in love with a
Sicilian girl, who was exceedingly beautiful. On it becoming clear that
she returned my affection, her mother perceived how the matter stood,
and grew suspicious of what might happen. The truth is that I had
arranged to elope with the girl for a year to Florence, unknown to her
mother; but she, getting wind of this, left Rome secretly one night, and
went off in the direction of Naples. She gave out that she was gone by
Cività Vecchia, but she really went by Ostia. I followed them to Cività
Vecchia, and did a multitude of mad things to discover her. It would be
too long to narrate them all in detail; enough that I was on the point
of losing my wits or dying. After two months she wrote to me that she
was in Sicily, extremely unhappy. I meanwhile was indulging myself in
all the pleasures man can think of, and had engaged in another love
affair, merely to drown the memory of my real passion.


IT happened through a variety of singular accidents that I became
intimate with a Sicilian priest, who was a man of very elevated genius
and well instructed in both Latin and Greek letters. In the course of
conversation one day we were led to talk about the art of necromancy;
apropos of which I said: “Throughout my whole life I have had the most
intense desire to see or learn something of this art.” Thereto the
priest replied: “A stout soul and a steadfast must the man have who sets
himself to such an enterprise.” I answered that of strength and
steadfastness of soul I should have enough and to spare, provided I
found the opportunity. Then the priest said: “If you have the heart to
dare it, I will amply satisfy your curiosity.” Accordingly we agreed
upon attempting the adventure.

The priest one evening made his preparations, and bade me find a
comrade, or not more than two. I invited Vincenzio Romoli, a very dear
friend of mine, and the priest took with him a native of Pistoja, who
also cultivated the black art. We went together to the Coliseum; and
there the priest, having arrayed himself in necromancer’s robes, began
to describe circles on the earth with the finest ceremonies that can be
imagined. I must say that he had made us bring precious perfumes and
fire, and also drugs of fetid odour. When the preliminaries were
completed, he made the entrance into the circle; and taking us by the
hand, introduced us one by one inside it. Then he assigned our several
functions; to the necromancer, his comrade, he gave the pentacle to
hold; the other two of us had to look after the fire and the perfumes;
and then he began his incantations. This lasted more than an hour and a
half; when several legions appeared, and the Coliseum was all full of
devils. I was occupied with the precious perfumes, and when the priest
perceived in what numbers they were present, he turned to me and said:
“Benvenuto, ask them something.” I called on them to reunite me with my
Sicilian Angelica. That night we obtained no answer; but I enjoyed the
greatest satisfaction of my curiosity in such matters. The necromancer
said that we should have to go a second time, and that I should obtain
the full accomplishment of my request; but he wished me to bring with me
a little boy of pure virginity.

I chose one of my shop-lads, who was about twelve years old, and invited
Vincenzio Romoli again; and we also took a certain Agnolino Gaddi, who
was a very intimate friend of both. When we came once more to the place
appointed, the necromancer made just the same preparations, attended by
the same and even more impressive details. Then he introduced us into
the circle, which he had reconstructed with art more admirable and yet
more wondrous ceremonies. Afterwards he appointed my friend Vincenzio to
the ordering of the perfumes and the fire, and with him Agnolino Gaddi.
He next placed in my hand the pentacle, which he bid me turn toward the
points he indicated, and under the pentacle I held the little boy, my
workman. Now the necromancer began to utter those awful invocations,
calling by name on multitudes of demons who are captains of their
legions, and these he summoned by the virtue and potency of God, the
Uncreated, Living, and Eternal, in phrases of the Hebrew, and also of
the Greek and Latin tongues; insomuch that in a short space of time the
whole Coliseum was full of a hundredfold as many as had appeared upon
the first occasion. Vincenzio Romoli, together with Agnolino, tended the
fire and heaped on quantities of precious perfumes. At the advice of the
necromancer, I again demanded to be reunited with Angelica. The sorcerer
turned to me and said: “Hear you what they have replied; that in the
space of one month you will be where she is?” Then once more he prayed
me to stand firm by him, because the legions were a thousandfold more
than he had summoned, and were the most dangerous of all the denizens of
hell; and now that they had settled what I asked, it behoved us to be
civil to them and dismiss them gently. On the other side, the boy, who
was beneath the pentacle, shrieked out in terror that a million of the
fiercest men were swarming round and threatening us. He said, moreover,
that four huge giants had appeared, who were striving to force their way
inside the circle. Meanwhile the necromancer, trembling with fear, kept
doing his best with mild and soft persuasions to dismiss them. Vincenzio
Romoli, who quaked like an aspen leaf, looked after the perfumes. Though
I was quite as frightened as the rest of them, I tried to show it less,
and inspired them all with marvellous courage; but the truth is that I
had given myself up for dead when I saw the terror of the necromancer.
The boy had stuck his head between his knees, exclaiming: “This is how I
will meet death, for we are certainly dead men.” Again I said to him:
“These creatures are all inferior to us, and what you see is only smoke
and shadow; so then raise your eyes.” When he had raised them he cried
out: “The whole Coliseum is in flames, and the fire is advancing on us;”
then covering his face with his hands, he groaned again that he was
dead, and that he could not endure the sight longer. The necromancer
appealed for my support, entreating me to stand firm by him, and to have
assafetida flung upon the coals; so I turned to Vincenzio Romoli, and
told him to make the fumigation at once. While uttering these words I
looked at Agnolino Gaddi, whose eyes were starting from their sockets in
his terror, and who was more than half dead, and said to him: “Agnolo,
in time and place like this we must not yield to fright, but do the
utmost to bestir ourselves; therefore, up at once, and fling a handful
of that assafetida upon the fire.” Agnolo, at the moment when he moved
to do this, let fly such a volley from his breech, that it was far more
effectual than the assafetida. [1] The boy, roused by that great stench
and noise, lifted his face little, and hearing me laugh, he plucked up
courage, and said the devils were taking to flight tempestuously. So we
abode thus until the matinbells began to sound. Then the boy told us
again that but few remained, and those were at a distance. When the
necromancer had concluded his ceremonies, he put off his wizard’s robe,
and packed up a great bundle of books which he had brought with him;
then, all together, we issued with him from the circle, huddling as
close as we could to one another, especially the boy, who had got into
the middle, and taken the necromancer by his gown and me by the cloak.
All the while that we were going toward our houses in the Banchi, he
kept saying that two of the devils he had seen in the Coliseum were
gamboling in front of us, skipping now along the roofs and now upon the
ground. The necromancer assured me that, often as he had entered magic
circles, he had never met with such a serious affair as this. He also
tried to persuade me to assist him in consecrating a book, by means of
which we should extract immeasurable wealth, since we could call up
fiends to show us where treasures were, whereof the earth is full; and
after this wise we should become the richest of mankind: love affairs
like mine were nothing but vanities and follies without consequence. I
replied that if I were a Latin scholar I should be very willing to do
what he suggested. He continued to persuade me by arguing that Latin
scholarship was of no importance, and that, if he wanted, he could have
found plenty of good Latinists; but that he had never met with a man of
soul so firm as mine, and that I ought to follow his counsel. Engaged in
this conversation, we reached our homes, and each one of us dreamed all
that night of devils.

Note 1. 'Fece una istrombazzata di coregge con tanta abundanzia di


AS we were in the habit of meeting daily, the necromancer kept urging me
to join in his adventure. Accordingly, I asked him how long it would
take, and where we should have to go. To this he answered that we might
get through with it in less than a month, and that the most suitable
locality for the purpose was the hill country of Norcia; [1] a master of
his in the art had indeed consecrated such a book quite close to Rome,
at a place called the Badia di Farfa; but he had met with some
difficulties there, which would not occur in the mountains of Norcia;
the peasants also of that district are people to be trusted, and have
some practice in these matters, so that at a pinch they are able to
render valuable assistance.

This priestly sorcerer moved me so by his persuasions that I was well
disposed to comply with his request; but I said I wanted first to finish
the medals I was making for the Pope. I had confided what I was doing
about them to him alone, begging him to keep my secret. At the same time
I never stopped asking him if he believed that I should be reunited to
my Sicilian Angelica at the time appointed; for the date was drawing
near, and I thought it singular that I heard nothing about her. The
necromancer told me that it was quite certain I should find myself where
she was, since the devils never break their word when they promise, as
they did on that occasion; but he bade me keep my eyes open, and be on
the look out against some accident which might happen to me in that
connection, and put restraint upon myself to endure somewhat against my
inclination, for he could discern a great and imminent danger in it:
well would it be for me if I went with him to consecrate the book, since
this would avert the peril that menaced me, and would make us both most

I was beginning to hanker after the adventure more than he did; but I
said that a certain Maestro Giovanni of Castel Bolognese had just come
to Rome, very ingenious in the art of making medals of the sort I made
in steel, and that I thirsted for nothing more than to compete with him
and take the world by storm with some great masterpiece, which I hoped
would annihilate all those enemies of mine by the force of genius and
not the sword. [2] The sorcerer on his side went on urging: “Nay,
prithee, Benvenuto, come with me and shun a great disaster which I see
impending over you.” However, I had made my mind up, come what would, to
finish my medal, and we were now approaching the end of the month. I was
so absorbed and enamoured by my work that I thought no more about
Angelica or anything of that kind, but gave my whole self up to it.

Note 1. This district of the Central Apennines was always famous for
witches, poisoners, and so forth. The Farfa mentioned below is a village
of the Sabine hills.

Note 2. Gio. Bernardi had been in the Duke of Ferrara’s service. Giovio
brought him to Rome, where he was patronised by the Cardinals Salviati
and De’ Medici. He made a famous medal of Clement VII., and was a
Pontifical mace-bearer. He died at Faenza in 1555.


IT happened one day, close on the hours of vespers, that I had to go at
an unusual time for me from my house to my workshop; for I ought to say
that the latter was in the Banchi, while I lived behind the Banchi, and
went rarely to the shop; all my business there I left in the hands of my
partner, Felice. Having stayed a short while in the workshop, I
remembered that I had to say something to Alessandro del Bene. So I
arose, and when I reached the Banchi, I met a man called Ser Benedetto,
who was a great friend of mine. He was a notary, born in Florence, son
of a blind man who said prayers about the streets for alms, and a
Sienese by race. This Ser Benedetto had been very many years at Naples;
afterwards he had settled in Rome, where he transacted business for some
Sienese merchants of the Chigi. [1] My partner had over and over again
asked him for some moneys which were due for certain little rings
confided to Ser Benedetto. That very day, meeting him in the Banchi, he
demanded his money rather roughly, as his wont was. Benedetto was
walking with his masters, and they, annoyed by the interruption, scolded
him sharply, saying they would be served by somebody else, in order not
to have to listen to such barking. Ser Benedetto did the best he could
to excuse himself, swore that he had paid the goldsmith, and said he had
no power to curb the rage of madmen. The Sienese took his words ill, and
dismissed him on the spot. Leaving them, he ran like an arrow to my
shop, probably to take revenge upon Felice. It chanced that just in the
middle of the street we met. I, who had heard nothing of the matter,
greeted him most kindly, according to my custom, to which courtesy he
replied with insults. Then what the sorcerer had said flashed all at
once upon my mind; and bridling myself as well as I was able, in the way
he bade me, I answered: “Good brother Benedetto, don’t fly into a rage
with me, for I have done you no harm, nor do I know anything about these
affairs of yours. Please go and finish what you have to do with Felice.
He is quite capable of giving you a proper answer; but inasmuch as I
know nothing about it, you are wrong to abuse me in this way, especially
as you are well aware that I am not the man to put up with insults.” He
retorted that I knew everything, and that he was the man to make me bear
a heavier load than that, and that Felice and I were two great rascals.
By this time a crowd had gathered round to hear the quarrel. Provoked by
his ugly words, I stooped and took up a lump of mud-for it had
rained-and hurled it with a quick and unpremeditated movement at his
face. He ducked his head, so that the mud hit him in the middle of the
skull. There was a stone in it with several sharp angles, one of which
striking him, he fell stunned like a dead man: whereupon all the
bystanders, seeing the great quantity of blood, judged that he was
really dead.

Note 1. The MS. has Figi; but this is probably a mistake of the


WHILE he was still lying on the ground, and people were preparing to
carry him away, Pompeo the jeweller passed by. The Pope had sent for him
to give orders about some jewels. Seeing the fellow in such a miserable
plight, he asked who had struck him; on which they told him: “Benvenuto
did it, but the stupid creature brought it down upon himself.” No sooner
had Pompeo reached the Pope than he began to speak: “Most blessed
Father, Benvenuto has this very moment murdered Tobbia; I saw it with my
own eyes.” On this the Pope in a fury ordered the Governor, who was in
the presence, to take and hang me at once in the place where the
homicide had been committed, adding that he must do all he could to
catch me, and not appear again before him until he had hanged me.

When I saw the unfortunate Benedetto stretched upon the ground, I
thought at once of the peril I was in, considering the power of my
enemies, and what might ensue from this disaster. Making off, I took
refuge in the house of Messer Giovanni Gaddi, clerk of the Camera, with
the intention of preparing as soon as possible to escape from Rome. He,
however, advised me not to be in such a hurry, for it might turn out
perhaps that the evil was not so great as I imagined; and calling Messer
Annibal Caro, who lived with him, bade him go for information.

While these arrangements were being made, A Roman gentleman appeared,
who belonged to the household of Cardinal de’ Medici, and had been sent
by him. [1] Taking Messer Giovanni and me apart, he told us that the
Cardinal had reported to him what the Pope said, and that there was no
way of helping me out of the scrape; it would be best for me to shun the
first fury of the storm by flight, and not to risk myself in any house
in Rome. Upon this gentleman’s departure, Messer Giovanni looked me in
the face as though he were about to cry, and said: “Ah me! Ah woe is me!
There is nothing I can do to aid you!” I replied: “By God’s means, I
shall aid myself alone; only I request you to put one of your horses at
my disposition.” They had already saddled a black Turkish horse, the
finest and the best in Rome. I mounted with an arquebuse upon the
saddle-bow, wound up in readiness to fire, if need were. [2] When I
reached Ponte Sisto, I found the whole of the Bargello’s guard there,
both horse and foot. So, making a virtue of necessity, I put my horse
boldly to a sharp trot, and with God’s grace, being somehow unperceived
by them, passed freely through. Then, with all the speed I could, I took
the road to Palombara, a fief of my lord Giovanbatista Savello, whence I
sent the horse back to Messer Giovanni, without, however, thinking it
well to inform him where I was. [3] Lord Giovanbatista, after very
kindly entertaining me two days, advised me to remove and go toward
Naples till the storm blew over. So, providing me with company, he set
me on the way to Naples.

While travelling, I met a sculptor of my acquaintance, who was going to
San Germano to finish the tomb of Piero de’ Medici at Monte Cassino. [4]
His name was Solosmeo, and he gave me the news that on the very evening
of the fray, Pope Clement sent one of his chamberlains to inquire how
Tobbia was getting on. Finding him at work, unharmed, and without even
knowing anything about the matter, the messenger went back and told the
Pope, who turned round to Pompeo and said: “You are a good-for-nothing
rascal; but I promise you well that you have stirred a snake up which
will sting you, and serve you right!” Then he addressed himself to
Cardinal de’ Medici, and commissioned him to look after me, adding that
he should be very sorry to let me slip through his fingers. And so
Solosmeo and I went on our way singing toward Monte Cassino, intending
to pursue our journey thence in company toward Naples.

Note 1. Ippolito de’ Medici was a Cardinal, much against his natural
inclination. When he went as Papal Legate to Hungary in 1532, he assumed
the airs and style of a Condottiere. His jealousy of his cousin
Alessandro led to his untimely death by poison in 1535.

Note 2. The gun was an 'arquebuso a ruola,' which had a wheel to cock it.

Note 3. A village in the Sabina, north of Tivoli. Giov. Battista
Savelli, of a great Roman house, was a captain of cavalry in the Papal
service after 1530. In 1540 he entered the service of Duke Cosimo, and
died in 1553.

Note 4. This sculptor was Antonio Solosmeo of Settignano. The monument
erected to Piero de’ Medici (drowned in the Garigliano, 1504) at Monte
Cassino is by no means a brilliant piece of Florentine art. Piero was
the exiled son of Lorenzo the Magnificent; and the Medici, when they
regained their principality, erected this monument to his memory,
employing Antonio da San Gallo, Francesco da San Gallo and a Neapolitan,
Matteo de’ Quaranta. The work was begun in 1532. Solosmeo appears from
this passage in Cellini to have taken the execution of it over.


WHEN Solosmeo had inspected his affairs at Monte Cassino, we resumed our
journey; and having come within a mile of Naples, we were met by an
innkeeper, who invited us to his house, and said he had been at Florence
many years with Carlo Ginori; [1] adding, that if we put up at his inn,
he would treat us most kindly, for the reason that we both were
Florentines. We told him frequently that we did not want to go to him.
However, he kept passing, sometimes in front and sometimes behind,
perpetually repeating that he would have us stop at his hostelry. When
this began to bore me, I asked if he could tell me anything about a
certain Sicilian woman called Beatrice, who had a beautiful daughter
named Angelica, and both were courtesans. Taking it into his head that I
was jeering him, he cried out: “God send mischief to all courtesans and
such as favour them!” Then he set spurs to his horse, and made off as
though he was resolved to leave us. I felt some pleasure at having rid
myself in so fair a manner of that ass of an innkeeper; and yet I was
rather the loser than the gainer; for the great love I bore Angelica had
come back to my mind, and while I was conversing, not without some
lover’s sighs, upon this subject with Solosmeo, we saw the man returning
to us at a gallop. When he drew up, he said: “Two or perhaps three days
ago a woman and a girl came back to a house in my neighbourhood; they
had the names you mentioned, but whether they are Sicilians I cannot
say.” I answered: “Such power over me has that name of Angelica, that I
am now determined to put up at your inn.”

We rode on all together with mine host into the town of Naples, and
descended at his house. Minutes seemed years to me till I had put my
things in order, which I did in the twinkling of an eye; then I went to
the house, which was not far from our inn, and found there my Angelica,
who greeted me with infinite demonstrations of the most unbounded
passion. I stayed with her from evenfall until the following morning,
and enjoyed such pleasure as I never had before or since; but while
drinking deep of this delight, it occurred to my mind how exactly on
that day the month expired, which had been prophesied within the
necromantic circle by the devils. So then let every man who enters into
relation with those spirits weigh well the inestimable perils I have
passed through!

Note 1. A Gonfalonier of the Republic in 1527.


I HAPPENED to have in my purse a diamond, which I showed about among the
goldsmiths; and though I was but young, my reputation as an able artist
was so well known even at Naples that they welcomed me most warmly.
Among others, I made acquaintance with a most excellent companion, a
jeweller, Messer Domenico Fontana by name. This worthy man left his shop
for the three days that I spent in Naples, nor even quitted my company,
but showed me many admirable monuments of antiquity in the city and its
neigbourhood. Moreover, he took me to pay my respects to the Viceroy of
Naples, who had let him know that he should like to see me. When I
presented myself to his Excellency, he received me with much honour; [1]
and while we were exchanging compliments, the diamond which I have
mentioned caught his eye. He made me show it him, and prayed me, if I
parted with it, to give him the refusal. Having taken back the stone, I
offered it again to his Excellency, adding that the diamond and I were
at his service. Then he said that the diamond pleased him well, but that
he should be much better pleased if I were to stay with him; he would
make such terms with me as would cause me to feel satisfied. We spoke
many words of courtesy on both sides; and then coming to the merits of
the diamond, his Excellency bade me without hesitation name the price at
which I valued it. Accordingly I said that it was worth exactly two
hundred crowns. He rejoined that in his opinion I had not overvalued it;
but that since I had set it, and he knew me for the first artist in the
world, it would not make the same effect when mounted by another hand.
To this I said that I had not set the stone, and that it was not well
set; its brilliancy was due to its own excellence; and that if I were to
mount it afresh, I could make it show far better than it did. Then I put
my thumb-nail to the angels of its facets, took it from the ring,
cleaned it up a little, and handed it to the Viceroy. Delighted and
astonished, he wrote me out a cheque [2] for the two hundred crowns I
had demanded.

When I returned to my lodging, I found letters from the Cardinal de’
Medici, in which he told me to come back post-haste to Rome, and to
dismount without delay at the palace of his most reverend lordship. I
read the letter to my Angelica, who begged me with tears of affection
either to remain in Naples or to take her with me. I replied that if she
was disposed to come with me, I would give up to her keeping the two
hundred ducats I had received from the Viceroy. Her mother perceiving us
in this close conversation, drew nigh and said: “Benvenuto, if you want
to take my daughter to Rome, leave me a sum of fifteen ducats, to pay
for my lying-in, and then I will travel after you.” I told the old
harridan that I would very gladly leave her thirty if she would give me
my Angelica. We made the bargain, and Angelica entreated me to by her a
gown of black velvet, because the stuff was cheap at Naples. I consented
to everything, sent for the velvet, settled its price and paid for it;
then the old woman, who thought me over head and ears in love, begged
for a gown of fine cloth for herself, as well as other outlays for her
sons, and a good bit more money than I had offered. I turned to her with
a pleasant air and said: “My dear Beatrice, are you satisfied with what
I offered?” She answered that she was not; thereupon I said that what
was not enough for her would be quite enough for me; and having kissed
Angelica, we parted, she with tears, and I with laughter, and off at
once I set for Rome.

Note 1. The Spanish Viceroy was at this time Pietro Alvarez de Toledo,
Marquis of Villafranca, and uncle of the famous Duke of Alva. He
governed Naples for twenty years, from 1532 onwards.

Note 2. 'Mi fece una polizza.' A 'polizza' was an order for money,
practically identical with our 'cheque.'


I LEFT Naples by night with my money in my pocket, and this I did to
prevent being set upon or murdered, as is the way there; but when I came
to Selciata, [1] I had to defend myself with great address and bodily
prowess from several horsemen who came out to assassinate me. During the
following days, after leaving Solosmeo at his work in Monte Cassino, I
came one morning to breakfast at the inn of Adanagni; [2] and when I was
near the house, I shot some birds with my arquebuse. An iron spike,
which was in the lock of my musket, tore my right hand. Though the wound
was not of any consequence, it seemed to be so, because it bled
abundantly. Going into the inn, I put my horse up, and ascended to a
large gallery, where I found a party of Neapolitan gentlemen just upon
the point of sitting down to table; they had with them a young woman of
quality, the loveliest I ever saw. At the moment when I entered the
room, I was followed by a very brave young serving-man of mine holding a
big partisan in his hand. The sight of us, our arms, and the blood,
inspired those poor gentlemen with such terror, particularly as the
place was known to be a nest of murderers, that they rose from table and
called on God in a panic to protect them. I began to laugh, and said
that God had protected them already, for that I was a man to defend them
against whoever tried to do them harm. Then I asked them for something
to bind up my wounded hand; and the charming lady took out a
handkerchief richly embroidered with gold, wishing to make a bandage
with it. I refused; but she tore the piece in half, and in the gentlest
manner wrapt my hand up with her fingers. The company thus having
regained confidence, we dined together very gaily; and when the meal was
over, we all mounted and went off together. The gentlemen, however, were
not as yet quite at their ease; so they left me in their cunning to
entertain the lady, while they kept at a short distance behind. I rode
at her side upon a pretty little horse of mine, making signs to my
servant that he should keep somewhat apart, which gave us the
opportunity of discussing things that are not sold by the apothecary.
[3] In this way I journeyed to Rome with the greatest enjoyment I have
ever had.

When I got to Rome, I dismounted at the palace of Cardinal de’ Medici,
and having obtained an audience of his most reverend lordship, paid my
respects, and thanked him warmly for my recall. I then entreated him to
secure me from imprisonment, and even from a fine if that were possible.
The Cardinal was very glad to see me; told me to stand in no fear; then
turned to one of his gentlemen, called Messer Pier Antonio Pecci of
Siena, ordering him to tell the Bargello not to touch me. [4] He then
asked him how the man was going on whose head I had broken with the
stone. Messer Pier Antonio replied that he was very ill, and that he
would probably be even worse; for when he heard that I was coming back
to Rome, he swore he would die to serve me an ill turn. When the
Cardinal heard that, he burst into a fit of laughter, and cried: “The
fellow could not have taken a better way than this to make us know that
he was born a Sienese.” After that he turned to me and said: “For our
reputation and your own, refrain these four or five days from going
about in the Banchi; after that go where you like, and let fools die at
their own pleasure.”

I went home and set myself to finishing the medal which I had begun,
with the head of Pope Clement and a figure of Peace on the reverse. The
figure was a slender woman, dressed in very thin drapery, gathered at
the waist, with a little torch in her hand, which was burning a heap of
arms bound together like a trophy. In the background I had shown part of
a temple, where was Discord chained with a load of fetters. Round about
it ran a legend in these words: 'Clauduntur belli portæ.' [5]

During the time that I was finishing this medal, the man whom I had
wounded recovered, and the Pope kept incessantly asking for me. I,
however, avoided visiting Cardinal de’ Medici; for whenever I showed my
face before him, his lordship gave me some commission of importance,
which hindered me from working at my medal to the end. Consequently
Messer Pier Carnesecchi, who was a great favourite of the Pope’s,
undertook to keep me in sight, and let me adroitly understand how much
the Pope desired my services. [6] I told him that in a few days I would
prove to his Holiness that his service had never been neglected by me.

Note 1. Ponte a Selice, between Capua and Aversa.

Note 2. Anagni, where Boniface VIII. was outraged to the death by the
French partisans of Philip le Bel.

Note 3. 'I. e.,' private and sentimental.

Note 4. This Pecci passed into the service of Caterina de’ Medici. In
1551 he schemed to withdraw Siena from the Spanish to the French cause,
and was declared a rebel.

Note 5. The medal was struck to celebrate the peace in Christendom
between 1530 and 1536.

Note 6. Pietro Carnesecchi was one of the martyrs of free-thought in
Italy. He adopted Protestant opinions, and was beheaded and burned in
Rome, August 1567.


NOT many days had passed before, my medal being finished, I stamped it
in gold, silver, and copper. After I had shown it to Messer Pietro, he
immediately introduced me to the Pope. It was on a day in April after
dinner, and the weather very fine; the Pope was in the Belvedere. After
entering the presence, I put my medals together with the dies of steel
into his hand. He took them, and recognising at once their mastery of
art, looked Messer Pietro in the face and said: “The ancients never had
such medals made for them as these.”

While he and the others were inspecting them, taking up now the dies and
now the medals in their hands, I began to speak as submissively as I was
able: “If a greater power had not controlled the working of my
inauspicious stars, and hindered that with which they violently menaced
me, your Holiness, without your fault or mine, would have lost a
faithful and loving servant. It must, most blessed Father, be allowed
that in those cases where men are risking all upon one throw, it is not
wrong to do as certain poor and simple men are wont to say, who tell us
we must mark seven times and cut once. [1] Your Holiness will remember
how the malicious and lying tongue of my bitter enemy so easily aroused
your anger, that you ordered the Governor to have me taken on the spot
and hanged; but I have no doubt that when you had become aware of the
irreparable act by which you would have wronged yourself, in cutting off
from you a servant such as even now your Holiness hath said he is, I am
sure, I repeat, that, before God and the world, you would have felt no
trifling twinges of remorse. Excellent and virtuous fathers, and masters
of like quality, ought not to let their arm in wrath descend upon their
sons and servants with such inconsiderate haste, seeing that subsequent
repentance will avail them nothing. But now that God has overruled the
malign influences of the stars and saved me for your Holiness, I humbly
beg you another time not to let yourself so easily be stirred to rage
against me.”

The Pope had stopped from looking at the medals and was now listening
attentively to what I said. There were many noblemen of the greatest
consequence present, which made him blush a little, as it were for
shame; and not knowing how else to extricate himself from this
entanglement, he said that he could not remember having given such an
order. I changed the conversation in order to cover his embarrassment.
His Holiness then began to speak again about the medals, and asked what
method I had used to stamp them so marvelously, large as they were; for
he had never met with ancient pieces of that size. We talked a little on
this subject; but being not quite easy that I might not begin another
lecture sharper than the last, he praised my medals, and said they gave
him the greatest satisfaction, but that he should like another reverse
made according to a fancy of his own, if it were possible to stamp them
with two different patterns. I said that it was possible to do so. Then
his Holiness commissioned me to design the history of Moses when he
strikes the rock and water issues from it, with this motto: 'Ut bibat
populus.' [2] At last he added: “Go Benvenuto; you will not have
finished it before I have provided for your fortune.” After I had taken
leave, the Pope proclaimed before the whole company that he would give
me enough to live on wealthily without the need of labouring for any one
but him. So I devoted myself entirely to working out this reverse with
the Moses on it.

Note 1. 'Segnar sette e tagliar uno.' A proverb derived possibly from
felling trees; or, as some commentators interpret, from the points made
by sculptors on their marble before they block the statue out.

Note 2. The medal commemorated a deep well sunk by Clement at Orvieto.


IN the meantime the Pope was taken ill, and his physicians thought the
case was dangerous. Accordingly my enemy began to be afraid of me, and
engaged some Neapolitan soldiers to do to me what he was dreading I
might do to him. [1] I had therefore much trouble to defend my poor
life. In course of time, however, I completed the reverse; and when I
took it to the Pope, I found him in bed in a most deplorable condition.
Nevertheless, he received me with the greatest kindness, and wished to
inspect the medals and the dies. He sent for spectacles and lights, but
was unable to see anything clearly. Then he began to fumble with his
fingers at them, and having felt them a short while, he fetched a deep
sigh, and said to his attendants that he was much concerned about me,
but that if God gave him back his health he would make it all right.

Three days afterwards the Pope died, and I was left with all my labour
lost; yet I plucked up courage, and told myself that these medals had
won me so much celebrity, that any Pope who was elected would give me
work to do, and peradventure bring me better fortune. Thus I encouraged
and put heart into myself, and buried in oblivion all the injuries which
Pompeo had done me. Then putting on my arms and girding my sword, I went
to San Piero, and kissed the feet of the dead Pope, not without shedding
tears. Afterwards I returned to the Banchi to look on at the great
commotion which always happens on such occasions.

While I was sitting in the street with several of my friends, Pompeo
went by, attended by ten men very well armed; and when he came just
opposite, he stopped, as though about to pick a quarrel with myself. My
companions, brave and adventurous young men, made signs to me to draw my
sword; but it flashed through my mind that if I drew, some terrible
mischief might result for persons who were wholly innocent. Therefore I
considered that it would be better if I put my life to risk alone. When
Pompeo had stood there time enough to say two Ave Marias, he laughed
derisively in my direction; and going off, his fellows also laughed and
wagged their heads, with many other insolent gestures. My companions
wanted to begin the fray at once; but I told them hotly that I was quite
able to conduct my quarrels to an end by myself, and that I had no need
of stouter fighters than I was; so that each of them might mind his
business. My friends were angry and went off muttering. Now there was
among them my dearest comrade, named Albertaccio del Bene, own brother
to Alessandro and Albizzo, who is now a very rich man in Lyons. He was
the most redoubtable young man I ever knew, and the most high-spirited,
and loved me like himself; and insomuch as he was well aware that my
forbearance had not been inspired by want of courage, but by the most
daring bravery, for he knew me down to the bottom of my nature, he took
my words up and begged me to favour him so far as to associate him with
myself in all I meant to do. I replied: “Dear Albertaccio, dearest to me
above all men that live, the time will very likely come when you shall
give me aid; but in this case, if you love me, do not attend to me, but
look to your own business, and go at once like our other friends, for
now there is no time to lose.” These words were spoken in one breath.

Note 1. The meaning of this is, that if Clement died, Cellini would have
had his opportunity of vengeance during the anarchy which followed a
vacancy of the Papal See.


IN the meanwhile my enemies had proceeded slowly toward Chiavica, as the
place was called, and had arrived at the crossing of several roads,
going in different directions; but the street in which Pompeo’s house
stood was the one which leads straight to the Campo di Fiore. Some
business or other made him enter the apothecary’s shop which stood at
the corner of Chiavica, and there he stayed a while transacting it. I
had just been told that he had boasted of the insult which he fancied he
had put upon me; but be that as it may, it was to his misfortune; for
precisely when I came up to the corner, he was leaving the shop and his
bravi had opened their ranks and received him in their midst. I drew a
little dagger with a sharpened edge, and breaking the line of his
defenders, laid my hands upon his breast so quickly and coolly, that
none of them were able to prevent me. Then I aimed to strike him in the
face; but fright made him turn his head round; and I stabbed him just
beneath the ear. I only gave two blows, for he fell stone dead at the
second. I had not meant to kill him; but as the saying goes, knocks are
not dealt by measure. With my left hand I plucked back the dagger, and
with my right hand drew my sword to defend my life. However, all those
bravi ran up to the corpse and took no action against me; so I went back
alone through Strada Giulia, considering how best to put myself in

I had walked about three hundred paces, when Piloto the goldsmith, my
very good friend, came up and said: “Brother, now that the mischief’s
done, we must see to saving you.” I replied: “Let us go to Albertaccio
del Bene’s house; it is only a few minutes since I told him I should
soon have need of him.” When we arrived there, Albertaccio and I
embraced with measureless affection; and soon the whole flower of the
young men of the Banchi, of all nations except the Milanese, came
crowding in; and each and all made proffer of their own life to save
mine. Messer Luigi Rucellai also sent with marvellous promptitude and
courtesy to put his services at my disposal, as did many other great
folk of his station; for they all agreed in blessing my hands, [1]
judging that Pompeo had done me too great and unforgivable an injury,
and marvelling that I had put up with him so long.

Note 1. 'Tutti d’accordo mi benedissono le mani.' This is tantamount to
approving Cellini’s handiwork in murdering Pompeo.


CARDINAL CORNARO, on hearing of the affair, despatched thirty soldiers,
with as many partisans, pikes, and arquebuses, to bring me with all due
respect to his quarters. [1] This he did unasked; whereupon I accepted
the invitation, and went off with them, while more than as many of the
young men bore me company. Meanwhile, Messer Traiano, Pompeo’s relative
and first chamberlain to the Pope, sent a Milanese of high rank to
Cardinal de’ Medici, giving him news of the great crime I had committed,
and calling on his most reverend lordship to chastise me. The Cardinal
retorted on the spot: “His crime would indeed have been great if he had
not committed this lesser one; thank Messer Traiano from me for giving
me this information of a fact of which I had not heard before.” Then he
turned and in presence of the nobleman said to the Bishop of Frulli, [2]
his gentleman and intimate acquaintance: “Search diligently after my
friend Benvenuto; I want to help and defend him; and whoso acts against
thyself acts against myself.” The Milanese nobleman went back, much
disconcerted, while the Bishop of Frulli come to visit me at Cardinal
Cornaro’s palace. Presenting himself to the Cardinal, he related how
Cardinal de’ Medici had sent for Benvenuto, and wanted to be his
protector. Now Cardinal Cornaro who had the touchy temper of a bear,
flew into a rage, and told the Bishop he was quite as well able to
defend me as Cardinal de’ Medici. The Bishop, in reply, entreated to be
allowed to speak with me on some matters of his patron which had nothing
to do with the affair. Cornaro bade him for that day make as though he
had already talked with me.

Cardinal de’ Medici was very angry. However, I went the following night,
without Cornaro’s knowledge, and under good escort, to pay him my
respects. Then I begged him to grant me the favour of leaving me where I
was, and told him of the great courtesy which Cornaro had shown me;
adding that if his most reverend lordship suffered me to stay, I should
gain one friend the more in my hour of need; otherwise his lordship
might dispose of me exactly as he thought best. He told me to do as I
liked; so I returned to Cornaro’s palace, and a few days afterwards the
Cardinal Farnese was elected Pope. 3

After he had put affairs of greater consequence in order, the new Pope
sent for me, saying that he did not wish any one else to strike his
coins. To these words of his Holiness a gentleman very privately
acquainted with him, named Messer Latino Juvinale, made answer that I
was in hiding for a murder committed on the person of one Pompeo of
Milan, and set forth what could be argued for my justification in the
most favourable terms. [4] The Pope replied: “I knew nothing of Pompeo’s
death, but plenty of Benvenuto’s provocation; so let a safe-conduct be
at once made out for him, in order that he may be placed in perfect
security.” A great friend of Pompeo’s, who was also intimate with the
Pope, happened to be there; he was a Milanese, called Messer Ambrogio.
[5] This man said: “In the first days of your papacy it were not well to
grant-pardons of this kind.” The Pope turned to him and answered: “You
know less about such matters than I do. Know then that men like
Benvenuto, unique in their profession, stand above the law; and how far
more he, then, who received the provocation I have heard of?” When my
safe conduct had been drawn out, I began at once to serve him, and was
treated with the utmost favour.

Note 1. This was Francesco, brother to Cardinal Marco Cornaro. He
received the hat in 1528, while yet a layman, and the Bishopric of
Brescia in 1531.

Note 2. This was Francesco, brother to Cardinal Marco Cornaro. He
received the hat in 1528, while yet a layman, and the Bishopric of
Brescia in 1531.

Note 3. Paul III., elected October 13, 1534.

Note 4. Latino Giovenale de’ Manetti was a Latin poet and a man of
humane learning, much esteemed by his contemporaries.

Note 5. Ambrogio Recalcati. He was for many years the trusted secretary
and diplomatic agent of Paul III.


MESSER LATINO JUVINALE came to call on me, and gave me orders to strike
the coins of the Pope. This roused up all my enemies, who began to look
about how they should hinder me; but the Pope, perceiving their drift,
scolded them, and insisted that I should go on working. I took the dies
in hand, designing a S. Paul, surrounded with this inscription: 'Vas
electionis.' This piece of money gave far more satisfaction than the
models of my competitors; so that the Pope forbade any one else to speak
to him of coins, since he wished me only to have to do with them. This
encouraged me to apply myself with untroubled spirit to the task; and
Messer Latino Juvinale, who had received such orders from the Pope, used
to introduce me to his Holiness. I had it much at heart to recover the
post of stamper to the Mint; but on this point the Pope took advice, and
then told me I must first obtain pardon for the homicide, and this I
should get at the holy Maries’ day in August through the Caporioni of
Rome. [1] I may say that it is usual every year on this solemn festival
to grant the freedom of twelve outlaws to these officers. Meanwhile he
promised to give me another safe-conduct, which should keep me in
security until that time.

When my enemies perceived that they were quite unable to devise the
means of keeping me out of the Mint, they resorted to another expedient.
The deceased Pompeo had left three thousand ducats as dowry to an
illegitimate daughter of his; and they contrived that a certain
favourite of Signor Pier Luigi, the Pope’s son, should ask her hand in
marriage through the medium of his master. [2] Accordingly the match
came off; but this fellow was an insignificant country lad, who had been
brought up by his lordship; and, as folk said, he got but little of the
money, since his lordship laid his hands on it and had the mind to use
it. Now the husband of the girl, to please his wife, begged the prince
to have me taken up; and he promised to do so when the first flush of my
favour with the Pope had passed away. Things stood so about two months,
the servant always suing for his wife’s dower, the master putting him
off with pretexts, but assuring the woman that he would certainly
revenge her father’s murder. I obtained an inkling of these designs; yet
I did not omit to present myself pretty frequently to his lordship, who
made show of treating me with great distinction. He had, however,
decided to do one or other of two things-either to have me assassinated,
or to have me taken up by the Bargello. Accordingly he commissioned a
certain little devil of a Corsican soldier in his service to do the
trick as cleverly as he could; [3] and my other enemies, with Messer
Traiano at the head of them, promised the fellow a reward of one hundred
crowns. He assured them that the job would be as easy as sucking a fresh
egg. Seeing into their plot, I went about with my eyes open and with
good attendance, wearing an under-coat and armlets of mail, for which I
had obtained permission.

The Corsican, influenced by avarice, hoped to gain the whole sum of
money without risk, and imagined himself capable of carrying the matter
through alone. Consequently, one day after dinner, he had me sent for in
the name of Signor Pier Luigi. I went off at once, because his lordship
had spoken of wanting to order several big silver vases. Leaving my home
in a hurry, armed, however, as usual, I walked rapidly through Strada
Giulia toward the Palazzo Farnese, not expecting to meet anybody at that
hour of day. I had reached the end of the street and was making toward
the palace, when, my habit being always to turn the corners wide, I
observed the Corsican get up and take his station in the middle of the
road. Being prepared, I was not in the least disconcerted; but kept upon
my guard, and slackening pace a little, drew nearer toward the wall, in
order to give the fellow a wide berth. He on his side came closer to the
wall, and when we were now within a short distance of each other, I
perceived by his gestures that he had it in his mind to do me mischief,
and seeing me alone thus, thought he should succeed. Accordingly, I
began to speak and said: “Brave soldier, if it had been night, you might
have said you had mistaken me, but since it is full day, you know well
enough who I am. I never had anything to do with you, and never injured
you, but should be well disposed to do you service.” He replied in a
high-spirited way, without, however, making room for me to pass, that he
did not know what I was saying. Then I answered. “I know very well
indeed what you want and what you are saying; but the job which you have
taken in hand is more dangerous and difficult than you imagine, and may
peradventure turn out the wrong way for you. Remember that you have to
do with a man who would defend himself against a hundred; and the
adventure you are on is not esteemed by men of courage like yourself.”
Meanwhile I also was looking black as thunder, and each of us had
changed colour. Folk too gathered round us, for it had become clear that
our words meant swords and daggers. He then, not having the spirit to
lay hands on me, cried out: “We shall meet another time.” I answered: “I
am always glad to meet honest men and those who show themselves as such.”

When we parted, I went to his lordship’s palace, and found he had not
sent for me. When I returned to my shop, the Corsican informed me,
through an intimate friend of his and mine, that I need not be on my
guard against him, since he wished to be my good brother; but that I
ought to be much upon my guard against others, seeing I was in the
greatest peril, for folk of much consequence had sworn to have my life.
I sent to thank him, and kept the best look-out I could. Not many days
after, a friend of mine informed me that Signor Pier Luigi had given
strict orders that I should be taken that very evening. They told me
this at twenty; whereupon I spoke with some of my friends, who advised
me to be off at once. The order had been given for one hour after
sunset; accordingly at twenty-three I left in the post for Florence. It
seems that when the Corsican showed that he had not pluck enough to do
the business as he promised, Signor Pier Luigi on his own authority gave
orders to have me taken, merely to stop the mouth of Pompeo’s daughter,
who was always clamouring to know where her dower had gone to. When he
was unable to gratify her in this matter of revenge on either of the two
plans he had formed, he bethought him of another, which shall be related
in its proper place.

Note 1. 'Le sante Marie.' So the Feast of the Assumption is called at
Florence, because devotion is paid on that day to the various images of
the Virgin scattered through the town. The 'Caporioni' of Rome were,
like aldermen, wardens of the districts into which the city was divided.

Note 2. Pier Luigi Farnese, Paul III’s bastard, was successively created
Gonfaloniere of the Church, Duke of Castro, Marquis of Novara, and
finally Duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1545. He was murdered at Parma by
his own courtiers in 1547. He was a man of infamous habits, quite unfit
for the high dignities conferred on him.

Note 3. 'Che la facessi più netta che poteva.'


I REACHED Florence in due course, and paid my respects to the Duke
Alessandro, who greeted me with extraordinary kindness and pressed me to
remain in his service. There was then at Florence a sculptor called Il
Tribolino, and we were gossips, for I had stood godfather to his son.
[1] In course of conversation he told me that a certain Giacopo del
Sansovino, his first master, had sent for him; and whereas he had never
seen Venice, and because of the gains he expected, he was very glad to
go there. [2] On his asking me if I had ever been at Venice, I said no;
this made him invite me to accompany him, and I agreed. So then I told
Duke Alessandro that I wanted first to go to Venice, and that afterwards
I would return to serve him. He exacted a formal promise to this effect,
and bade me present myself before I left the city. Next day, having made
my preparations, I went to take leave of the Duke, whom I found in the
palace of the Pazzi, at that time inhabited by the wife and daughters of
Signor Lorenzo Cibo. [3] Having sent word to his Excellency that I
wished to set off for Venice with his good leave, Signor Cosimino de’
Medici, now Duke of Florence, returned with the answer that I must go to
Niccolò de Monte Aguto, who would give me fifty golden crowns, which his
Excellency bestowed on me in sign of his good-will, and afterwards I
must return to serve him.

I got the money from Niccolò, and then went to fetch Tribolo, whom I
found ready to start; and he asked me whether I had bound my sword. I
answered that a man on horseback about to take a journey ought not to
bind his sword. He said that the custom was so in Florence, since a
certain Ser Maurizio then held office, who was capable of putting S.
John the Baptist to the rack for any trifling peccadillo. [4]
Accordingly one had to carry one’s sword bound till the gates were
passed. I laughed at this, and so we set off, joining the courier to
Venice, who was nicknamed Il Lamentone. In his company we travelled
through Bologna, and arrived one evening at Ferrara. There we halted at
the inn of the Piazza, which Lamentone went in search of some Florentine
exiles, to take them letters and messages from their wives. The Duke had
given orders that only the courier might talk to them, and no one else,
under penalty of incurring the same banishment as they had. Meanwhile,
since it was a little past the hour of twenty-two, Tribolo and I went to
see the Duke of Ferrara come back from Belfiore, where he had been at a
jousting match. There we met a number of exiles, who stared at us as
though they wished to make us speak with them. Tribolo, who was the most
timorous man that I have ever known, kept on saying: “Do not look at
them or talk to them, if you care to go back to Florence.” So we stayed,
and saw the Duke return; afterwards, when we regained our inn, we found
Lamentone there. After nightfall there appeared Niccolò Benintendi, and
his brother Piero, and another old man, whom I believe to have been
Jacopo Nardi, [5] together with some young fellows, who began
immediately to ask the courier news, each man of his own family in
Florence. [6] Tribolo and I kept at a distance, in order to avoid
speaking with them. After they had talked a while with Lamentone,
Niccolò Benintendi [7] said: “I know those two men there very well;
what’s the reason they give themselves such beastly airs, and will not
talk to us?” Tribolo kept begging me to hold my tongue, while Lamentone
told them that we had not the same permission as he had. Benintendi
retorted it was idiotic nonsense, adding “Pox take them,” and other
pretty flowers of speech. Then I raised my head as gently as I could,
and said: “Dear gentlemen, you are able to do us serious injury, while
we cannot render you any assistance; and though you have flung words at
us which we are far from deserving, we do not mean on that account to
get into a rage with you.” Thereupon old Nardi said that I had spoken
like a worthy young man as I was. But Niccolò Benintendi shouted: “I
snap my fingers at them and the Duke.” [8] I replied that he was in the
wrong toward us, since we had nothing to do with him or his affairs. Old
Nardi took our part, telling Benintendi plainly that he was in the
wrong, which made him go on muttering insults. On this I bade him know
that I could say and do things to him which he would not like, and
therefore he had better mind his business, and let us alone. Once more
he cried out that he snapped his fingers at the Duke and us, and that we
were all of us a heap of donkeys. [9] I replied by giving him the lie
direct and drawing my sword. The old man wanting to be first upon the
staircase, tumbled down some steps, and all the rest of them came
huddling after him. I rushed onward, brandishing my sword along the
walls with fury, and shouting: “I will kill you all!” but I took good
care not to do them any harm, as I might too easily have done. In the
midst of this tumult the innkeeper screamed out; Lamentone cried, “For
God’s sake, hold!” some of them exclaimed, “Oh me, my head!” others,
“Let me get out from here.” In short, it was an indescribable confusion;
they looked like a herd of swine. Then the host came with a light, while
I withdrew upstairs and put my sword back in its scabbard. Lamentone
told Niccolò Benintendi that he had behaved very ill. The host said to
him: “It is as much as one’s life is worth to draw swords here; and if
the Duke were to know of your brawling, he would have you hanged. I will
not do to you what you deserve; but take care you never show yourself
again in my inn, or it will be the worse for you.” Our host then came up
to me, and when I began to make him my excuses, he would not suffer me
to say a word, but told me that he knew I was entirely in the right, and
bade me be upon my guard against those men upon my journey.

Note 1. Niccolò de’ Pericoli, a Florentine, who got the nickname of
Tribolo in his boyhood, was a sculptor of some distinction. He worked on
the bas-reliefs of San Petronio at Bologna, and helped Michel Agnolo da
Siena to execute the tomb of Adrian VI. at Rome. Afterwards he was
employed upon the sculpture of the Santa Casa at Loreto. He also made
some excellent bronzework for the Medicean villas at Cestello and
Petraja. All through his life Tribolo served the Medici, and during the
siege of Florence in 1530 he constructed a cork model of the town for
Clement VII. Born 1485, died 1550.

Note 2. This is the famous Giacopo Tatti, who took his artist’s surname
from his master, Andrea da Monte a Sansovino. His works at Florence,
Rome, and Venice are justly famous. He died in 1570, aged ninety-three.

Note 3. A brother of the Cardinal, and himself Marquis of Massa.

Note 4. Ser Maurizio was entitled Chancellor, but really superintended
the criminal magistracy of Florence. Varchi and Segni both speak of him
as harsh and cruel in the discharge of his office.

Note 5. Jacopo Nardi was the excellent historian of Florence, a strong
anti-Medicean partisan, who was exiled in 1530.

Note 6. I have translated the word 'brigata' by 'family' above, because
I find Cellini in one of his letters alluding to his family as 'la mia

Note 7. Niccolò Benintendi, who had been a member of the Eight in 1529,
was exiled by the Medici in 1530.

Note 8. The Florentine slang is 'Io ho in culo loro e il duca.'

Note 9. 'Un monte di asini.'


AFTER we had supped, a barge-man appeared, and offered to take us to
Venice. I asked if he would let us have the boat to ourselves; he was
willing, and so we made our bargain. In the morning we rose early, and
mounted our horses for the port, which is a few miles distant from
Ferrara. On arriving there, we found Niccolò Benintendi’s brother, with
three comrades, waiting for me. They had among them two lances, and I
had bought a stout pike in Ferrara. Being very well armed to boot, I was
not at all frightened, as Tribolo was, who cried: “God help us! those
fellows are waiting here to murder us.” Lamentone turned to me and said:
“The best that you can do is to go back to Ferrara, for I see that the
affair is likely to be ugly; for Heaven’s sake, Benvenuto, do not risk
the fury of these mad beasts.” To which I replied: “Let us go forward,
for God helps those who have the right on their side; and you shall see
how I will help myself. Is not this boat engaged for us?” “Yes,” said
Lamentone. “Then we will stay in it without them, unless my manhood has
deserted me.” I put spurs to my horse, and when I was within fifty
paces, dismounted and marched boldly forward with my pike. Tribolo
stopped behind, all huddled up upon his horse, looking the very image of
frost. Lamentone, the courier, meanwhile, was swelling and snorting like
the wind. That was his usual habit; but now he did so more than he was
wont, being in doubt how this devilish affair would terminate. When I
reached the boat, the master presented himself and said that those
Florentine gentlemen wanted to embark in it with us, if I was willing. I
answered: “The boat is engaged for us and no one else, and it grieves me
to the heart that I am not able to have their company.” At these words a
brave young man of the Magalotti family spoke out: “Benvenuto, we will
make you able to have it.” To which I answered: “If God and my good
cause, together with my own strength of body and mind, possess the will
and the power, you shall not make me able to have what you say.” So
saying I leapt into the boat, and turning my pike’s point against them,
added: “I’ll show you with this weapon that I am not able.” Wishing to
prove he was in earnest, Magalotti then seized his own and came toward
me. I sprang upon the gunwale and hit him such a blow, that, if he had
not tumbled backward, I must have pierced his body. His comrades, in
lieu of helping him, turned to fly; and when I saw that I could kill
him, instead of striking, I said: “Get up, brother; take your arms and
go away. I have shown you that I cannot do what I do not want, and what
I had the power to do I have not chosen to do.” Then I called for
Tribolo, the boatman, and Lamentone to embark; and so we got under way
for Venice. When we had gone ten miles on the Po, we sighted those young
men, who had got into a skiff and caught us up; and when they were
alongside, that idiot Piero Benintendi sang out to me: “Go thy ways this
time, Benvenuto; we shall meet in Venice.” “Set out betimes then,” I
shouted, “for I am coming, and any man can meet me where he lists.” In
due course we arrived at Venice, when I applied to a brother of Cardinal
Cornaro, begging him to procure for me the favour of being allowed to
carry arms. He advised me to do so without hesitation, saying that the
worst risk I ran was that I might lose my sword.


ACCORDINGLY I girded on my sword, and went to visit Jacopo del
Sansovino, the sculptor, who had sent for Tribolo. He received me most
kindly, and invited us to dinner, and we stayed with him. In course of
conversation with Tribolo, he told him that he had no work to give him
at the moment, but that he might call again. Hearing this, I burst out
laughing, and said pleasantly to Sansovino: “Your house is too far off
from his, if he must call again.” Poor Tribolo, all in dismay,
exclaimed: “I have got your letter here, which you wrote to bid me
come.” Sansovino rejoined that men of his sort, men of worth and genius,
were free to do that and greater things besides. Tribolo shrugged up his
shoulders and muttered: “Patience, patience,” several times. Thereupon,
without regarding the copious dinner which Sansovino had given me, I
took the part of my comrade Tribolo, for he was in the right. All the
while at table Sansovino had never stopped chattering about his great
achievements, abusing Michel Agnolo and the rest of his
fellow-sculptors, while he bragged and vaunted himself to the skies.
This had so annoyed me that not a single mouthful which I ate had tasted
well; but I refrained from saying more than these two words: “Messer
Jacopo, men of worth act like men of worth, and men of genius, who
produce things beautiful and excellent, shine forth far better when
other people praise them than when they boast so confidently of their
own achievements.” Upon this he and I rose from table blowing off the
steam of our choler. The same day, happening to pass near the Rialto, I
met Piero Benintendi in the company of some men; and perceiving that
they were going to pick a quarrel with me, I turned into an apothecary’s
shop till the storm blew over. Afterwards I learned that the young
Magalotti, to whom I showed that courtesy, had scolded them roundly; and
thus the affair ended.


A FEW days afterwards we set out on our return to Florence. We lay one
night at a place on this side Chioggia, on the left hand as you go
toward Ferrara. Here the host insisted upon being paid before we went to
bed, and in his own way; and when I observed that it was the custom
everywhere else to pay in the morning, he answered: “I insist on being
paid overnight, and in my own way.” I retorted that men who wanted
everything their own way ought to make a world after their own fashion,
since things were differently managed here. Our host told me not to go
on bothering his brains, because he was determined to do as he had said.
Tribolo stood trembling with fear, and nudged me to keep quiet, lest
they should do something worse to us; so we paid them in the way they
wanted, and afterwards we retired to rest. We had, I must admit, the
most capital beds, new in every particular, and as clean as they could
be. Nevertheless I did not get one wink of sleep, because I kept on
thinking how I could revenge myself. At one time it came into my head to
set fire to his house; at another to cut the throats of four fine horses
which he had in the stable; I saw well enough that it was easy for me to
do all this; but I could not see how it was easy to secure myself and my
companion. At last I resolved to put my things and my comrade’s on board
the boat; and so I did. When the towing-horses had been harnessed to the
cable, I ordered the people not to stir before I returned, for I had
left a pair of slippers in my bedroom. Accordingly I went back to the
inn and called our host, who told me he had nothing to do with us, and
that we might go to Jericho. [1] There was a ragged stable-boy about,
half a sleep, who cried out to me: “The master would not move to please
the Pope, because he has got a wench in bed with him, whom he has been
wanting this long while.” Then he asked me for a tip, and I gave him a
few Venetian coppers, and told him to make the barge-man wait till I had
found my slippers and returned. I went upstairs, took out a little knife
as sharp as a razor, and cut the four beds that I found there into
ribbons. I had the satisfaction of knowing I had done a damage of more
than fifty crowns. Then I ran down to the boat with some pieces of the
bed-covers [2] in my pouch, and bade the bargee start at once without
delay. We had not gone far before my gossip Tribolo said that he had
left behind some little straps belonging to his carpet-bag, and that he


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