Michelangelo and 22 Bahman


Michelangelo and 22 Bahman
by Ari Siletz

Why is Michelangelo considered one of the greatest sculptors of all time, and why is his statue of David considered one of his greatest works? Sure the master could chisel life into a block of marble, but so could Bernini who also sculpted a statue of the hero’s battle with the gigantic Goliath. The answer is that Bernini saw only 22 Bahman and not the days before. He shows a fierce David in the act of slinging the fatal rock at Goliath. Two other great masters, Donatello and Verocchio , also tried their hand at depicting David. But as the links make it clear, they saw the days after 22 Bahman and missed the days leading up to it. In their works, the severed head of Goliath lies the feet of a triumphant David. Michelangelo’s David is a great work of art because he alone had the sympathy and insight to look for David at a time when his skill and courage was unknown even to the hero himself.

There are two clues of this in the sculpture. Every tourist to Florence has seen the first clue: depending on the angle of view and lighting, David’s face shows the gamut of emotions from outright terror, resignation to fate, intense concentration, contempt, anger and aggression. These are not the emotions of someone who has just scored the biggest success of his life. We conclude that Michelangelo has chosen to depict the youth in the moment before anyone—including David-- knew that he is a hero. Though we don’t see Goliath physically, emotionally we feel his menacing presence in the work.

After this we don’t need the second clue, but for unknown reasons the artist has left it there anyway even though it is subtle and hidden from casual view. To find it, go behind the statue and look inside David’s right hand to find what looks like the rock. David hasn’t thrown it yet!

Though we can judge modern art by the talent that went into it, it may take five hundred years and a revolution close to home to fully appreciate the genius of the artist. Tonight as I contemplate the upcoming confrontation on 22 Bahman, I am in awe of Michelangelo as much as I am in awe of our heroes to be.


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superb observation Ari, thanks for the excellent blog

by Bavafa on




by divaneh on

Insightful and informative. This is another reminder that despite all the agitation, David wins.



by HollyUSA on

Amazing. And what an incredible eye you have! Bravo and thanks.

Azadeh Azad

Marvelous insight

by Azadeh Azad on

... and very timely!

We shall overcome,


hamsade ghadimi


by hamsade ghadimi on

wonderful blog.  the iranian parallel is that of rostam defeating the white devil (akvan-e div) in shahnameh.  rostam represents vohuman (same as bahman, the 11th month of zoroastrian calendar).  vohuman means the good mind, while akvan (or akoman or aka manah) means the evil mind.  hopefully, on the 31st anniversary of the rule of ahriman, on the day of wind (baad) and month of good mind (bahman), iranians will serve a fatal blow to the aniranians.  see link for partial explanation of the above: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aka_Manah


Beautifully portrayed

by Hovakhshatare on

I like to think our artists have plenty of subject and context to create great meaningful art in near future.


Jahanshah Javid

Timeless and timely

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks Ari. An amazing comparison. Great eye, great vision.


Semplicemente Stupenda

by 11mashty on

Caro Ari,

Having seen the statue of David and closely studied it a number of time at the Academia in Firenze, I had never considered your interpretation which makes perfect sense.  It is as insightful as it is true.  I really can't add anything.  Perhaps a review of Dante's Divine Comedy is not all inappropriate here either. Dante gets lost in a dark forest and embarks on a tour of the
afterworld. He is escorted through the various levels of hell and purgatory, only to be reunited with his love in paradise.  The brave souls in Iran have gone through all of that and it is about time for reunification in paradise, a free Iran.


That's creativity!

by Princess on

...to see connections between two things that don't apparently connect.

Of course comparing the Iranian nation to David and the regime to Goliath is not new, but your particular angle and the juxtaposition of images both literally and figuratively are extremely powerful. I have just come to appreciate both David and Sohrab in a new light even more. 

Cheers to the triumph of justice and liberty over tyranny!



Ari, Ingenius

by Monda on

David is the male equivalent of Mona Lisa*, in the infinite reactions it can provoke in its viewers.  Very interesting Ari, your before and after analysis.

Your write up made me see what I had missed in many directions.

Firenze/ Uffizi here I (should) come again!

(*if we agree Mona Lisa was a woman) 



by Mehrban on

Whatever I say will not do this brilliant tribute justice.  Sohrab our David.

The side by side profiles is unbelievable.  Insightful, tender with the promise of things to come, Ari this blog is a Gem.

Darius Kadivar

Beautiful Tribute Ari Jaan

by Darius Kadivar on

May Our David's Triumph over IRI's Goliath Thugs in the upcoming demos.

Warm Regards va Beh Omideh Peeroozyeh Nahayi !