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Rosenfeld, E.M. (1951). The Pan-Headed Moses—a Parallel. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:83-93.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:83-93

The Pan-Headed Moses—a Parallel

Eva M. Rosenfeld

In collecting and preparing material for a psychological study of the function of the hand, I searched analytical and non-analytical literature for contributions to my subject, and naturally I came across Freud's work on the Moses of Michelangelo, where the significance of the movement of Moses' hand is the essential point. 'The whole meaning of human existence forced into the language of the living body' is Spengler's definition of Michelangelo's mode of expression. I will use here one example of this 'language of the living body' as it is contained in Michelangelo's Moses statue and in Freud's interpretation of it. The Essay dealing with the statue of Moses was published anonymously in Imago in 1914. It is noteworthy that it was written, or at any rate published, in the same year as the Essay on Narcissism, which was already approaching the problem of the artist, and in which the first definition of super-ego—namely the ego-ideal and its origin—received attention and elaboration. We shall touch on these problems later, when considering the historical figure of Moses the Lawgiver.

I included in my studies the significance of the posture of Michelangelo's figure of Moses as it is mirrored in the art critics' controversy on the subject, Freud's early essay on the statue, his later book Moses and Monotheism, and the relevant passages of the Bible, i.e. Exodus. As regards the Bible, I compared the Latin quotations of the Vulgate, which was the version known to Michelangelo, and the text of which he must have used for inspiration, with the German and English translations of the fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries, i.

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