August 18: 16th Century Dudes Part II: Cellini

What Cellini did in his spare time.

For Luther, we are -- or should be -- all in this together:
A cobbler, a smith, a peasant, every man, has the office and function of his calling, and yet all alike are consecrated priests and bishops, and every man should by his office or function be useful and beneficial to the rest, so that various kinds of work may all be united for the furtherance of body and soul, just as the members of the body all serve one another.
Contrast this with the beginning of today's excerpt:
I HAD but just dismounted from my horse, when one of those excellent people who rejoice in mischief-making came to tell me that Pagolo Micceri had taken a house for the little hussy Caterina and her mother, and that he was always going there, and whenever he mentioned me, used words of scorn to this effect: “Benvenuto set the fox to watch the grapes, and thought I would not eat them! Now he is satisfied with going about and talking big, and thinks I am afraid of him. But I have girt this sword and dagger to my side in order to show him that my steel can cut as well as his, and that I too am a Florentine, of the Micceri, a far better family than his Cellini.”
Women, fighting, and revenge -- suddenly we're in a very different part of the 16th century forest. The part where such people where women, fighting, and revenge would also get you in in good with God and Luther's Christian nobility. Here, the King of France is talking after seeing one of Cellini's sculpures (he's already gotten the salt-cellar pictured above):
Since the Cardinal had made him no provision, we must do so, and all the more because the man himself is so slow at asking favours—to cut it short, I mean to have him well provided for... therefore see that he gets the first abbey that falls vacant worth two thousand crowns a year. If this cannot be had in one benefice, let him have two or three to that amount, for in his case it will come to the same thing.
How different from our own time! Not the sweetheart government deal, of course, just the fact that it went to an artist, instead of someone in the asphalt business.

I guess the Luther-Cellini comparison is a lesson in the power of ideas, because Luther helped get thousands of people killed and Cellini had to do it one at a time ("To him I said in Italian: 'If you offer any resistance to what I shall propose, upon the slightest word you utter I will stab you till your guts run out upon this floor.'") But, to be fair to Cellini, he was busy with other things. Here's the little hussy Caterina, who he married off at sword's point, hired as a model, and then beat to a pulp:
On the following morning Caterina came to our door, and knocked so violently, that, being below, I ran to see whether it was a madman or some member of the household. When I opened, the creature laughed and fell upon my neck, embracing and kissing me, and asked me if I was still angry with her. I said, “No!” Then she added: “Let me have something good to break my fast on.” So I supplied her well with food, and partook of it at the same table in sign of reconciliation. Afterwards I began to model from her, during which occurred some amorous diversions; and at last, just at the same hour as on the previous day, she irritated me to such a pitch that I gave her the same drubbing. So we went on several days, repeating the old round like clockwork. There was little or no variation in the incidents.
To quote Luther, "Jesus!" That's probably the high point of today's excerpt, in terms of jaw-dropping action, but getting the next model (15) pregnant and summing up the incident with, "This was the first child I ever had, so far as I remember. I settled money enough upon the girl for dowry to satisfy an aunt of hers, under whose tutelage I placed her, and from that time forwards I had nothing more to do with her" is a close second.

It's incredible. I guess Reformation looks pretty good with crazy men like these running around, although, from a consumer's point of view, the scamp wins, always. On January 2, 2009, when I'm done with this, I'm going to get a fire going in the fireplace and curl up and read Cellini.

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