The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
by Benvenuto Cellini
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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 permitted.'


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 piu 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 Civita Vecchia, but she really went by Ostia. I followed them to Civita 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 merda.'


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 fortunate.

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 amanuensis.


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 portae.' [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 safety.

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 piu 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 Niccolo 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 Niccolo, 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 Niccolo 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, Niccolo 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 Niccolo 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 Niccolo 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. Niccolo 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 brigatina.'

Note 7. Niccolo 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 Niccolo 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 must be allowed to go back for them. I answered that he need not take thought for a pair of little straps, since I could make him as many big ones as he liked. [3] He told me I was always joking, but that he must really go back for his straps. Then he began ordering the bargee to stop, while I kept ordering him to go on. Meanwhile I informed my friend what kind of trick I had played our host, and showed him specimens of the bed-covers and other things, which threw him into such a quaking fright that he roared out to the bargee: "On with you, on with you, as quick as you can!" and never thought himself quite safe until we reached the gates of Florence.

When we arrived there, Tribolo said: "Let us bind our swords up, for the love of God; and play me no more of your games, I beg; for all this while I've felt as though my guts were in the saucepan." I made answer: "Gossip Tribolo, you need not tie your sword up, for you have never loosed it;" and this I said at random, because I never once had seen him act the man upon that journey. When he heard the remark, he looked at his sword and cried out: "In God's name, you speak true! Here it is tied, just as I arranged it before I left my house." My gossip deemed that I had been a bad travelling companion to him, because I resented affronts and defended myself against folk who would have done us injury. But I deemed that he had acted a far worse part with regard to me by never coming to my assistance at such pinches. Let him judge between us who stands by and has no personal interest in our adventures.

Note 1. 'E che noi andassimo al bordello.'

Note 2. 'Sarge. Sargia' is interpreted 'sopraccoperta del letto.'

Note 3. The Italian for straps, 'coregge,' has a double meaning, upon which Cellini plays.


NO sooner had I dismounted that I went to visit Duke Alessandro, and thanked him greatly for his present of the fifty crowns, telling his Excellency that I was always ready to serve him according to my abilities. He gave me orders at once to strike dies for his coinage; and the first I made was a piece of forty soldi, with the Duke's head on one side and San Cosimo and San Damiano on the other. [1] This was in silver, and it gave so much satisfaction that the Duke did not hesitate to say they were the best pieces of money in Christendom. The same said all Florence and every one who saw them. Consequently I asked his Excellency to make me appointments, [2] and to grant me the lodgings of the Mint. He bade me remain in his service, and promised he would give me more than I demanded. Meanwhile he said he had commissioned the Master of the Mint, a certain Carlo Acciaiuoli, and that I might go to him for all the money that I wanted. This I found to be true; but I drew my monies so discreetly, that I had always something to my credit, according to my account.

I then made dies for a giulio; [3] it had San Giovanni in profile, seated with a book in his hand, finer in my judgment than anything which I had done; and on the other side were the armorial bearings of Duke Alessandro. Next I made dies for half-giulios on which I struck the full face of San Giovanni in small. This was the first coin with a head in full face on so thin a piece of silver that had yet been seen. The difficulty of executing it is apparent only to the eyes of such as are past-masters in these crafts. Afterwards I made dies for the golden crowns; this crown had a cross upon one side with some little cherubim, and on the other side his Excellency's arms.

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