Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/51

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STRENGTH

marble representing the battle of Hercules with the Centaurs.[1]

This arrogant low-relief, in which impassable strength and beauty reign supreme, reflects the athletic soul of the young Hercules and his fierce games with his rough companions. Michael Angelo, accompanied by Lorenzo di Credi, Bugiardini, Granacci and Torrigiano dei Torrigiani, also went to the church of the Carmelites to copy Masaccio's frescoes. He was not sparing with the railleries which he addressed to his less skilful comrades. One day he attacked the vain Torrigiani, whereupon Torrigiani gave him a crushing blow on the face with his fist. Later he boasted of the fact to Benvenuto Cellini, in the following words: "I gave him so violent a blow upon the nose with my fist that I felt the bone and cartilage yield under my hand as if they had been made of paste, and the mark I then gave him he will carry to his grave."[2]

But paganism had not stifled Michael Angelo's Christian faith. The two hostile worlds disputed over his soul.

In 1490, Savonarola began his impassioned sermons on the Apocalypse. He was thirty-seven years of age. Michael Angelo was fifteen. The young artist saw the small, frail preacher, who was consumed by the Spirit of God, and the terrible voice which hurled thunderbolts on the Pope from the pulpit in the Duomo and suspended the bloody sword of God over Italy froze him with terror. Florence trembled. People rushed about the streets

  1. The "Battle of Hercules with the Centaurs" is at the Casa Buonarroti in Florence. Belonging to the same period are two other works: The "Mask of a Laughing Faun," which brought Michael Angelo Lorenzo de' Medici's friendship, and the "Madonna of the Staircase," another low-relief of the Casa Buonarroti.
  2. This incident occurred about 1491.