Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/117

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DESPAIR

under foot ... It is therefore clear that he who kills a tyrant does not commit murder, since he kills not a man but a beast. Thus, Brutus and Cassius did not commit a crime in assassinating Cæsar. Firstly, because they killed a man whom every Roman citizen, in accordance with the laws, was obliged to kill. Secondly, because they did not kill a man but a brute with a human face."[1]


Thus Michael Angelo found himself, in the days of the national republican awakening which followed in Florence on the news of the taking of Rome by the armies of Charles V.[2] and the expulsion of the Medici,[3] in the front rank of Florentine revolutionaries. The same man who, in ordinary times, advised the members of his family to flee from politics as they would from the plague was in such a state of excitement that he feared neither the one nor the other. He remained in Florence, where there was both the plague and the revolution. The epidemic seized his brother Buonarroto, who died in his arms."[4] In October 1528 he took part in the deliberations concerning the defence of the city. On January 10, 1529, he was chosen in the Collegium of the Nove di milizia to superintend the work of fortifying it. On April 6 he was appointed, for one year, governatore generale and procuratore of the fortifications of Florence. In June he

  1. Michael Angelo—or Giannotti who speaks in his name—takes care to distinguish between tyrants and hereditary kings, or constitutional princes. "I do not speak here of princes who possess their power through the authority of centuries or through the will of the people, and who govern their town in perfect accord with the people ..."
  2. May 6, 1527.
  3. Expulsion of Hippolyte and Alessandro de' Medici. (May 17, 1527.)
  4. July 2, 1528.