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


ALBEIT I was suffering so severely, I forced myself to work upon my Colossus in the Loggia; but after a few days I succumbed to the malady and took to my bed. No sooner did the Duchess hear that I was ill, than she caused the execution of that unlucky marble to be assigned to Bartolommeo Ammanato. He sent word to me through Messer.… living.… Street, that I might now do what I liked with my model since he had won the marble. This Messer.… was one of the lovers of Bartolommeo Ammanato’s wife; and being the most favoured on account of his gentle manners and discretion, Ammanato made things easy for him. There would be much to say upon this topic; however, I do not care to imitate his master, Bandinello, who always wandered from the subject in his talk. Suffice it to say that I told Ammanato’s messenger I had always imagined it would turn out thus; let the man strain himself to the utmost in proof of gratitude to Fortune for so great a favour so undeservedly conferred on him by her.

All this while I stayed with sorry cheer in bed, and was attended by that most excellent man and physician, Maestro Francesco da Montevarchi. Together with him Maestro Raffaello de’ Pilli undertook the surgical part of my case, forasmuch as the sublimate had so corroded the intestines that I was unable to retain my motions. When Maestro Francesco saw that the poison had exerted all its strength, being indeed insufficient in quantity to overcome my vigorous constitutions, he said one day: “Benvenuto, return thanks to God, for you have won the battle. Have no anxiety, since I mean to cure you in spite of the rogues who sought to work your ruin.” Maestro Raffaello then put in: “This will be one of the finest and most difficult cures which was ever heard of; for I can tell you, Benvenuto, that you swallowed a good mouthful of sublimate.” Thereupon Maestro Francesco took him up and said: “It may possibly have been some venomous caterpillar.” I replied: “I know for certain what sort of poison it was, and who gave it to me;” upon which we all were silent. They attended me more than six full months, and I remained more than a whole year before I could enjoy my life and vigour.