Michelangelo’s Moses. Letter in The Guardian Review (15 June 2002)


Michelangelos Moses

Anthony Stadlen

[Letter in The Guardian (Review) p. 23, 15 June 2002]

Copyright © Anthony Stadlen 2002, 2020

Jonathan Joness Portrait of the Week: MichelangeloMoses is a portrait of nothing other than Freuds fantasies (Review, June 8). The very first sentence of Mr Joness account of distinguishing features is a repetition of Freuds first howler: Mosess right hand protects the stone tablets bearing the Commandments.’ But there are no Commandments written on the bare rectangular tablets Michelangelo depicts!

The horns on Mosess head, which Mr Jones calls a conventional attribute of Moses, are the beams of light, for which the same Hebrew word qeren is used [as] for horn, and which the Bible clearly states Moses radiated after he had seen God on Mount Sinai, before God rewrote the Commandments on the second set of tablets. Freud has confused Mosess first and second ascents. It was on the first that he came down to find the children of Israel worshipping the Golden Calf, and on the second that he saw Gods passing and radiated horns of light.

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Anthony Stadlen
Former research fellow, the Freud Museum. London

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