Saturday, August 03, 2002

Michaelangelo must have known some buff Jews. Or perhaps no Jews at all. David is ripped, but Moses (yes, complete with horns) makes him look puny. Though Michaelangelo seem to age Moses at just short of ancient, he complements waistelength beard with rippling biceps.Tablets in hand, Moses is sitting down--for some reason this shocked me more than any other element of this strange depiction, I had somehow never imagined Moses sitting down at any of the pivotal points: lying in the basket, fleeing from palace to desert, audience and audience and audience before Pharoah, up and down the mountain, forty years through the desert...when did he get a moment's rest? More importantly, what was that moment, that grabbed Michaelangelo's attention. Although the horns--a mistranslation of the hebrew word kranim that describes light radiating from Moses head as he descends with the tablets--hint that Michaelangelo was probably not the most meticulous biblical scholar, his choice of Moses's position is intruiging. What is Moses doing with the tablets, sitting down, looking off into the distance, muscles rippling?