Why is Moses so horny?

Hey, Matt:

Why does Michelangelo's Moses (appear to) have horns?

-- A Renaissance Fan, Golden Hill

Oh, it's all a big, big misunderstanding. Poor Moses has horns in hundreds of years' worth of paintings and statuary because somebody got a D in Hebrew. In the Book of Exodus, Moses encounters God, and according to the Hebrew text, his face shone radiantly, or emitted rays of light (karnu) -- something along that order. So along comes St. Jerome, translating like crazy from Hebrew to Latin, he gets to the radiant face stuff, and blows it. Hebrew karnu becomes Latin cornuta (horns), and the rest is art history.

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