Michelangelo's Moses Analysis

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Topics: Michelangelo
Michelangelo's Moses

The Michelangelo sculpture that I have chosen to write about is Moses. The immediate thing that struck me about this sculpture that led to me choosing to write about it is due to the intricate details in the muscle tone, and hair detail (in particular his beard). After looking at it for a little I came to realize that its not just about the details that attracted me to it but also caught my eye for the incredibly stoic look on Moses' face and the bizarre element of horns. And to be perfectly honest, when I went to Rome one weekend I got to see almost all the churches and sites I wanted to see, except for one because we had arrived just after they had closed, unfortunately that was San Pietro (also known as Saint Peter
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The most common theory of why the horns are there stems from the Latin Vulgate (late fourth-century translation) version of the Bible. In this version of the bible, a passage from Exodus says "And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord." While there is also speculation that the translation of this Latin based Bible was flat out wrong, it seems clear that Michelangelo made an artistic decision to quite literally include horns on the head of Moses. There are other theories of course on how these horns found their way on Moses's head, including one from a book published in 2008 titles "horns". In this book the author theorizes on the idea that since Moses was initially supposed to not be on the ground level but instead hoisted up much higher; the horns would not be seen from viewers on the ground floor. According to this theory, since the sculpture was facing the front door of San Pietro, the light would reflect off of the ‘horns’ and create an optical effect to those that spot Moses as they walk towards it. Most people choose to think that Michelangelo gave Moses horns from the Latin bible translation instead of this optical illusion

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