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


ONE of the first things I did was to go and kiss the Pope’s feet; and while I was speaking with his Holiness, Messer Averardo Serristori, our Duke’s Envoy, arrived. I had made some proposals to the Pope, which I think he would have agreed upon, and I should have been very glad to return to Rome on account of the great difficulties which I had at Florence. But I soon perceived that the ambassador had countermined me.

Then I went to visit Michel Agnolo Buonarroti, and repeated what I had written from Florence to him in the Duke’s name. He replied that he was engaged upon the fabric of S. Peter’s, and that this would prevent him from leaving Rome. I rejoined that, as he had decided on the model of that building, he could leave its execution to his man Urbino, who would carry out his orders to the letter. I added much about future favours, in the form of a message from the Duke. Upon this he looked me hard in the face, and said with a sarcastic smile: “And you! to what extent are you satisfied with him?” Although I replied that I was extremely contented and was very well treated by his Excellency, he showed that he was acquainted with the greater part of my annoyances, and gave as his final answer that it would be difficult for him to leave Rome. To this I added that he could not do better than to return to his own land, which was governed by a prince renowned for justice, and the greatest lover of the arts and sciences who ever saw the light of this world. As I have remarked above, he had with him a servant of his who came from Urbino, and had lived many years in his employment, rather as valet and housekeeper than anything else; this indeed was obvious, because he had acquired no skill in the arts. Consequently, while I was pressing Michel Agnolo with arguments he could not answer, he turned round sharply to Urbino, as though to ask him his opinion. The fellow began to bawl out in his rustic way: “I will never leave my master Michel Agnolo’s side till I shall have flayed him or he shall have flayed me.” These stupid words forced me to laugh, and without saying farewell, I lowered my shoulders and retired.