Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Horns Aplenty


Why does Moses have horns?

(I have access to mom and dad's photos for the first time, hence the new pictures.)

8 comments:

DavAnnb said...

I once heard (don't know if its true) that Moses has the horns as a result of mistranslation that translated a word with a meaning similar to halo/nimbus to horns instead. I believe the explanation was that the words had similar spellings.

Not sure if thats true, not even sure what language the translation issue happened with, but maybe it was Hebrew to Latin?

Anonymous said...

More guesses... I think it has several possible meanings. It may have something to do with serving as a reminder of the golden calf that the Israelites worshipped, while Moses was on the mountain. More significantly, it may serve as a reminder of their/our fear of God. Remember, the Israelites could no longer look at the face of Moses. And so this would be a way for Michaelangelo to depict the actual face of Moses, while also expressing his rage.

-- Michael

Anonymous said...

...and why is he only wearing one sandal?? (notice the left foot)

Michael said...

I believe it's artistic license. (And it relates to the same license which allows Michelangelo to depict Moses face.)

"Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground" (Ex. 3:5).

Joe said...

davannb is correct! That is what I have heard. I aske that question when in Rome and that is what I was told. So I am not quite sure if davannb is correct but I agree with them.

Michael said...

It you google 'Moses w/horns', you will find an array of theories. The mis-translation theory seems prominent. So does the common theory of anti-semitism; that jews were depicted with horns. I guess I prefer something along the lines of what can be found here:
http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Choir/4792/michel.html

(The sign of the betrayed in Michelangelo's Moses by Guy Shaked )

I'm sure that a million people are already working to create a 'Michelangelo Code' out of this stuff...

Anonymous said...

The first poster is right--St. Jerome's Hebrew was a little shaky & where the text says Moses' face was shining with rays of light after praying at the tent of the Lord, the Vulgate said he had horns of light. St. Jerome's translation was the one available to Renaissance artists.

Father Schnippel said...

Michael,

I can't imagine what a 'michaelangelo code' would entail, but I shudder at the thought!

I usually give the dual explanation, but usually went with the 11:01 anon as the most likely.

Thanks all for the contributions, and it really is a great statute.