Excerpted from The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, translated by John Addington Symonds:

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.

In the 21st century, our first impulse would be to ask, “Is this really a unicorn horn?”

In the 16th century, the question never occurred to him.

This doesn’t make me feel superior at all.  This makes me wonder what the 26th century will think of us.

(The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini is in the public domain and may be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg HERE.)



  1. markonit

    …that is an interesting question… but it begs me to ask… what do you think of the people from the 16th century…


    • I’m surprised at how differently they lived their lives. The paramount question was always, “What is my duty?” not “What will make me and my community happy?”


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