Have you ever heard of the “ridiculous Moses”?

March 7, 2023
Have you ever heard of the “ridiculous Moses”?

Have you ever heard of the “ridiculous Moses”? In Rome, in Piazza San Bernardo, you can admire a majestic fountain which includes a famous statue of Moses… but it is famous for a strange reason! It is known in Rome as the “ridiculous Moses”. This is the nickname given by the Romans to the statue placed in the central niche of the fountain in Piazza San Bernardo. The fountain is the terminal part of the Acqua Felice aqueduct wanted by Pope Sixtus V. Come to Rome. While taking one of TOURS, we can stop by this famous fountain and we can have a look together and see if the Moses is really “ridiculous”!!

 The fountain of the Acqua Felice and Moses

The fountain of the Acqua Felice, also known as fountain of the “ridiculous Moses” was built by Domenico and Giovanni Fontana. It features many wonderful elements taken directly from the nearby Baths of Diocletian. The fountain features a huge statue depicting Moses pointing to the waters that miraculously sprang from the rocks. This is the work of Leonardo Sormani and Prospero Antichi known as Bresciano.

Why is it considered “ridiculous”?

The enormous statue which is placed in the middle of the fountain,  is squat and disproportionate, with heavy, stocky drapery. It is unsymmetrical and Moses seems incredibly short and overweight! So much so that, as you can imagine, it immediately inspired the Romans, who gave it the nickname of:  ‘ridiculous Moses’.

Fountain of the Acqua Felice and the "ridiculous Moses"

Fountain of the Acqua Felice and the “ridiculous Moses”

Besides the purely aesthetic issue, the statue also contains a historical error!! Moses in fact holds the Tablets of the Law in his left hand, but at the time of the miracle of the waters he had not yet received them. In short, an unsuccessful monument, one might say, and yet… it has been there for more than four centuries!