Michaelangelo's David: David as in David and Goliath?

I have a friend who insists that Michaelangelo’s David is not the David from the Biblical tale of David and Goliath. I’m not sure why a statue would be scultped with a stone and slingshot if it isn’t, but…

My friend offers this “scholarly” website about intact penises as her evidence:


Scroll down, and note that it guesses that it might not be the same David–it doesn’t say definitely.

So…I’m correct that it’s the David of David and Goliath fame, right? (Of course I am, but she is not taking my word for it.)

It’s the same David…shown at “the moment he decided to fight.” As for the circumcision, IIRC, during that time period, only the tip of the foreskin was removed. So David only looks “uncut.”

Ah, it’s just some other famous Biblical dude named David.

That’s some pretty shoddy evidence your friend has. The site presents the “not the Biblical David” idea as the last possibility in a list.

What Google has to say, in part.

Considering that he’s holding what appears to be a rock in his right hand, and what very much looks like a sling in is left hand, how could anyone think it’s not supposed to be that David?

I thought he was the David from Davey and Goliath…

Artists tended (this has changed somewhat) to paint, sculp, or whatever, historical figures looking like whatever people looked like at the time they did the work, not like what the actual historical figure would look like. So, in Rennaisance art, you see the Virgin Mary dressed like a 15th century peasant, soldiers look like modern soldiers, etc. So, David, being sculpted in a time and place where almost no one was circumcized, isn’t.

At the time, David (of “and Goliath”) was considered a kind of totemic symbolic civic hero that Florence identified with-- there are other famous sculptures of David from Florence of that period and this was of a kind of conceptual group playing into a conceptual meme.
And that is pretty dang weak evidence anyway. Why would you expect the 16th-c Florentines to be really “up” on Old Testament-era circumcision techniques? I mean, the same sculptor gives Moses horns-- are we supposed to deduce something interesting from that?

By the way, in the original script, when Indiana Jones opens the Lost Ark, he finds two of every animal in it.

Yeah, we can. We can deduce that the translation of the Biblw that Bounarotti was familiar with mistranslated the Hebrew text, rendering “rays of light” as “horns.”

*The horns have elicited various interpretations. The likeliest explanation is that Michelangelo relied on Jerome’s vulgate translation of the Old Testament. In this commonly available version, the “rays of light” that were seen around Moses’ face after his meeting with God on Mt Sinai were expressed as horns. *

The explanation I’ve read of Moses’s horns goes like this: In the Bible’s account of Moses’s trip up and down the mountain, where he got the Commandments, Mo comes back with “rays” coming out of his head. He didn’t know they were there. The translation used in Michaelangelo’s time erroneously said “horns” instead of “rays.” I don’t remember the Greek word, but apparently it was close enough to lure the translator into the mistake. Anyway, Michaelangelo read “horns,” and so Mo’s got 'em.

Re: Horns. Well, yes. I know that. But my POINT was. . . you know. Ok, bad example. Never mind.

For another example of Moses with horns, see Claus Sluder’s Well of Moses.

Another example of David in sculpture is Donatello’s David, in which you can see a slightly different looking David with his left foot placed triumphantly on the head of Goliath.

What capybara said.

During the fifteenth century, David had become a symbol of Florence, as the “little guy” republic standing up to the “big guy” duchies and principalities in Italy (Milan in particular). As for Michelangelo’s David, it was commissioned by the briefly-revived Republic at the turn of the sixteenth century–at that time the Medici were living in exile (as they had been since Savonarola’s revolution), and regarded by many Florentines as enemies of the Republic. In this political context, Mich’s David may have symbolized the Republic guarding itself against all threats, particularly the Medici (although Cesare Borgia was also a serious threat at this time).

Like most people, the Renaissance Italians tended to depict historical and religious figures in their own image. So they wouldn’t have worried much about David’s intact foreskin, even though strictly speaking it’s in contradiction with the Biblical text.

Besides, who else could it have been? It was definitely a religious figure (the sculpture was originally intended to stand on a buttress of Florence cathedral), and what other religious figure would hold a rock and a sling other than David? The evidence and the historical traditions of Florence all point to the Biblical prophet David.

So of course you’re right.