Letter from Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio to Mario Minniti, 17 July, 1610
Michael Donkin


I am dictating this letter, as I am too weak to pen it myself. I have never been in such a state. In case I have not the strength to finish what I intend to say, I would like to thank you in advance for your loyal friendship over the years. Especially in Sicily. That proved your worth beyond a doubt. I hope your wife is not still angry at you for leaving.
It seems that Sicily was a whit less dangerous than Naples, however, my friend. The assassins there were more competent. There is now a gash which extends from my left temple down to the right side of my neck. It has healed, but there is a grisly scar and I am no longer beautiful.
There were too many toughs and they found me while I was sleeping. You can imagine my anger. Luckily I heard them as they snuck in like wolves. I pretended to be asleep. Of course when they came upon me I had my stiletto at the ready. Brother, if I had only known that they were so many, perhaps ten, I would have surely disappeared through the window. At one point they were holding me down, Brother, but I was too strong for them. Those Philistines tried to cut my throat. I don't know, maybe they would have even taken my head, too. I know that Wignacourt would have paid handsomely for it.
Which is why I am now in Tuscany. An old friend was kind enough to put me up. There are servant boys waiting on me. The pardon has practically been guaranteed. Finally. The words from the Pope were very encouraging.
You know, Brother, it seems funny. Naples, as dangerous as it was, has proved to be no match for the sea. I am angry. If I was not so ill I would find that captain and let him taste my boot. I don't know if it was the food or the lodgings. I have never been so ill in my life. If I die, at least I will be able to say that it was by no man. Brother, I have beaten men to death with my fists. How I miss those brawls! Those night fights at the ball courts! In my time I have been knighted, too. I know I am being sentimental, Brother, but let me go on. After being knighted I have fought bravely a gang of rabid knights from my own order. I know that you know this, but I am laughing. I am never too ill to laugh. Oh, and then I escaped prison unbeknownst by all until I was well on my way to Sicily. And I regret none of it. Not a solitary thing. I have produced works of art that God Himself could only match.
I am tired now, Brother. I think I will nap.
-- Caravaggio: World's Finest Brawler
P.S. Let it read so on my burial.