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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


I AM now obliged to take a step backwards, in order to resume the thread of some events which will be found in my Capitolo. While I was sojourning those few days in the chamber of the Cardinal, and afterwards in the Pope’s private garden, there came among my other friends to visit me a cashier of Messer Bindo Altoviti, who was called Bernardo Galluzzi. I had entrusted to him a sum of several hundred crowns, and the young man sought me out in the Pope’s garden, expressing his wish to give back this money to the uttermost farthing. I answered that I did not know where to place my property, either with a dearer friend or in a place that seemed to me more safe. He showed the strongest possible repugnance to keeping it, and I was, as it were, obliged to force him. Now that I had left the castle for the last time, I discovered that poor Bernardo Galluzzi was ruined, whereby I lost my money. Now while I was still imprisoned in that dungeon, I had a terrible dream, in which it seemed to me that words of the greatest consequence were written with a pen upon my forehead; the being who did this to me repeated at least three times that I should hold my tongue and not report the words to any one. When I awoke I felt that my forehead had been meddled with. In my Capitolo upon the prison I have related many incidents of this sort. Among others, it was told me (I not knowing what I then prophesied) how everything which afterwards happened to Signor Pier Luigi would take place, so clearly and so circumstantially that I am under the persuasion it was an angel from heaven who informed me. I will not omit to relate another circumstance also, which is perhaps the most remarkable which has ever happened to any one. I do so in order to justify the divinity of God and of His secrets, who deigned to grant me that great favour; for ever since the time of my strange vision until now an aureole of glory (marvellous to relate) has rested on my head. This is visible to every sort of men to whom I have chosen to point it out; but those have been very few. This halo can be observed above my shadow in the morning from the rising of the sun for about two hours, and far better when the grass is drenched with dew. It is also visible at evening about sunset. I became aware of it in France at Paris; for the air in those parts is so much freer from mist, that one can see it there far better manifested than in Italy, mists being far more frequent among us. However. I am always able to see it and to show it to others, but not so well as in the country I have mentioned.

Now I will set forth the Capitolo I wrote in prison, and in praise of the said prison; after that I will follow the course of the good and evil things which have happened to me from time to time; and I mean also to relate what happens in the future.