We can dimly comprehend how in a great genius like Michelangelo, or even his contemporary, Bazzi, the idealizations of art might lift him far above mere considerations of sex; and how, among religious leaders, and profound philosophical thinkers, ethical principles and instincts, just as the repressed sexual love of woman "frequently shows itself in an enlarged philanthropy," may open up new and nobler avenues of desire; and it is to these sources, I think, that the higher and more intellectual forms of homosexuality, masquerading under the guise of friendship, or pi atonic love, may be traced.
Michelangelo was indifferent to the beauty of women ; very properly in his case, since male beauty belongs unquestionably to the higher artistic type ; and extremely sensitive to that of men. Symonds, his best biographer, tells us that the great sculptor "was one of those exceptional, but not uncommon, men who are bom with sensibilities deflected from the ordinary channels. He showed no partiality for women, but a notable enthusiasm for the beauty of young men ;"3 and, although he formed an intimate attachment for the widow of the Marquis Pescara, his really impassioned love sonnets, and longings, were all addressed to the beautiful and gifted youth, Tomaso Cavalieri.
Although Plato had made just such an attachment the subject of sublime sentimental reflection, this homosexuality of Michelangelo was rrusconeeived in his day by that blind sensuality which could see no outlet for such emotions other than contrary sexual indulgence. Men did not understand, as we understand today, psychic or soul-love; and there is hardly any doubt that this misconception of his character and temperament, as well as his own longing for a supersexual, ideal beauty, lay at the bottom of the great artist's deep-rooted melancholy.