A symmetry of power in Michelangelo’s Moses



Among the various interpretations of Michelangelo’s Moses, Freud’s is well-known. The founder of psychoanalysis, Freud reviews all the critics and interpretations of this masterpiece and then offers his own: this Moses is not about to spring up, as claimed by others, but on the contrary, is sitting down, suppressing his “rage”. In the light of recent works of Daniel Arasse, art critic (study of the “signification” of the index finger in Renaissance works), and Christian Bromberger, anthropologist (Trichologiaques, the analysis of the significations of pilosity, “beard” in particular), and by integrating some details neglected by critics up to now, the author of this paper intends to argue that the main theme of this set of three statues together (Moses, Rachel and Lea) is that of power. The arrangement of the assembly is symmetrical: the divine power or celestial (horned Moses in the center, the Tablets of the Law and the contemplative posture of Rachel on the left) and the terrestrial power of the man-prophet (the palpable force emanating from exuberant musculature, the imposing beard, the statue of Lea staring at the Earth).