Bandello to His Magnificent
Nephew Messer Gian Michele Bandello
Women, when taken by surprise, usually have a ready response; and in an
instant they are able to furnish whatever the situation requires. And since
this faculty comes to them by nature, there should be no doubt that those
women who have more experience will be the most provident and astute.
But what women have more experience than the courtesans at the Roman
court? All the beautiful and most elevated intellects of the world com-
monly gather here, for Rome is everyone's fatherland. Here good literature
of all sorts flourishes, whether in Latin, Greek, or the vernaculars; here are
excellent legal scholars and the most consummate of both moral and natu-
ral philosophers; here one sees miraculous painters. There are sculptors who
draw out living faces from marble, and molders of metal who cast what-
ever they fancy. But not to recount the arts one by one, they are all here in
all their perfection. Hence whoever wants to achieve excellence in any sort
of skill goes to learn in Rome. And since - as the wise Sulmonese
it often occurs that the same field produces both the rose and the nettle,
there are both good and wicked men in Rome.
But leaving all else aside,
will speak of courtesans who, to give some
honest title to their practices, have usurped this name of "courtesans." They
are as a rule all greedier for money than flies for honey. And if some young
downy-bearded type falls into their hands who is not sufficiently cunning,
I can tell you for sure that without touching a razor they will shave him to
within an inch of his life and carry out his dissection. Now, as an honored
company of many gentlemen was conversing in Milan about several cour-
tesans and about the ways they so often practice, the captain Gian Battista
Olivo-a most witty and courteous man-told a little story that had taken
place in Rome. And I, having written it down according to his narration,
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