The Adoration of the Bronze Snake

Human life: anger, terror, misery, perplexity, delusion. Here’s The Adoration of the Bronze Snake, by Bronzino, a fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake

Look at the twisting bodies, and at the faces- horror and confusion everywhere:

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 6

relieved by death (perhaps it is merely stupor)

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 2

Sometimes not even by that.

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 1

Relieved by care for another, giving purpose.

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 3

This man pretends to indicate The Saviour- it is a seduction technique.

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 5

The Priest is a cypher, unreadable.

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 7

This man seeks to fight off the snake with his own strength, but clearly cannot:

Bronzino, the adoration of the bronze snake, detail 4

The people spoke against God, so the Lord sent poisonous snakes and they died. Then they asked Moses to pray for them, and as commanded Moses set a bronze snake upon a pole, so that anyone bitten by a snake could look at it and live. The word for “poisonous” is “fiery”, seraphim in the Hebrew, a word for angel.

Here is another picture of the story. How calm and wise Moses is, how trusting the Israelites! Lillian explains it beautifully. This, therefore that. All is well. But real life seems complex, difficult, uncertain. Imagine those Medicis in their chapel, praying, contemplating humanity there, and planning their next moves.

2 thoughts on “The Adoration of the Bronze Snake

    • I had to google that. This is what they came up with:

      The caduceus is the traditional symbol of Hermes and features two snakes winding around an often winged staff. It is often mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine instead of the Rod of Asclepius, especially in the United States.

      I would think not. It is in the book of Numbers, Hermes and Asclepius were both Greek gods, I don’t know how influences and stories moved around the Mediterranean but the false gods the OT is concerned with are middle-Eastern until the Maccabees. AFAIR.

      Like

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