ArticleA Wonder by Mistake
The world of Wonders is extremely diverse as they leave their mark on every aspect of human life - science, technology, arts, culture, entertainment…If there is anything almost all Wonders share is that they are created by design. Quite literally so: Nature (whatever the word might imply) or talented people at the height of their creative powers have a vision - and transform it into a material object (such as, for instance, a bridge, a waterfall, or a palace) or a spiritual experience (such as poetry or music). It's hard to imagine someone creating a Wonder despite their intentions rather than in accordance with them, and yet…
In 1505 Michelangelo Buonarotti was commissioned to build a tomb for Pope Julius II. The artist needed exactly 40 years to complete the assignment - a fact that speaks volumes for the complexity and scope of the work - but by 1513 he was ready to start decorating the tomb. One of the sculptures (on the photo, by Yoerg Bittner Unna - own work) represented Moses as he had been returning to his people with the Tablets of the Law freshly received from the Higher Power.
Upon completion, the tomb was exhibited in San-Pietro-in-Vincoli (traditionally translated as “St.Peter in Chains”). A vibrant name for a church, and yet those faithful who stumbled upon Michelangelo's Moses for the first time might have thought they had incidentally strayed into a Church of All Devils - seeing a great leader (not known as a cuckold either) with cute little horns attached to his head should have felt not just confusing but outright shocking. The 16th century not being known for either mass literacy or reliable Internet connections, that confusion was about to last for a long time.
Lucky us in the 21st century who need mere minutes to establish that Michelangelo was, in fact, very loyal to the Bible description, as he knew it - and he knew it from the Latin translation literally mentioning horns on Moses head. Of course, that's not what the original meant. “Lost in translation” was the fact that the original Hebrew word “qeren” happened to be a homonym meaning both “horn” and "sunray" (as well as some other things!) - so inspired was Moses by the divine encounter that his face was shining, as if flooded with sunrays…
Had the artist known the true meaning of the sentence, he would have created yet another impressive sculpture - one of so many. As it happened, a Wonder came to the world. A mistaken wonder, to be fair - but isn't it tempting to rather call it a “wonderful mistake”?!