Stefano Farinelli                                                                Independent Scholar

 

Volume 3, October 2022   

 

Abstract
Within Edgar Wind’s collection of studies devoted to Michelangelo and published posthumously in
The Religious Symbolism of Michelangelo (2000), we aim to focus on the analysis of one of his brief
sketches, whose subject is the marble relief of the Battle of the Centaurs, Casa Buonarroti, Florence.
The intent of this paper is to propose a possible conclusion to the ideas that Wind, unfortunately,
suggests only in a fragmented and incomplete form. The dense – and still open – historiographical
debate on the meaning and subject of the famous relief that Michelangelo sculpted during his
youth, following the close suggestion of Agnolo Poliziano (anglicised as ‘Politian’), can thus benefit
from the original perspective of Wind, who, using Ovid’s Metamorphoses as a guide, alludes to an
unusual ‘romantic affection’ toward the ferocious centaurs that would be mysteriously represented
in the artwork. In particular, women and adolescents appear to rebel against their ‘rescue’ by men
so that they might remain in the arms of the centaurs, who would be the only creatures capable of
par amor – that is, just and equitable love – as evidenced by the tragic story of Cyllarus and
Hilonome. The extraordinary beauty of Cyllarus as described by Ovid, which Michelangelo
reproduces in the strangely canonical and harmonious proportions of the centaurs of his relief,
may also allude to homosexual love – a theme to which the controversial Politian dedicated a
number of his poems.

Keywords
Centauromachy; Edgar Wind; Michelangelo; Ovid; Politian

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The Edgar Wind Journal 3: 36-46, 2022
DOI: 10.53245/EWJ-000015
Copyright: © 2022 S. Farinelli. This is an open access, peer-reviewed article published by Bernardino Branca