The Colossus Terrifies

Francisco de Goya, El Coloso (The Colossus), Spain, 1808-1812

Goya’s painting of The Colossus was created at the beginning of the 19th century, when Spain was threatened with Napoleon’s invasion. Today, it is a fitting image of the almost unimaginable threat of the Covid-19 pandemic that currently is sweeping our planet. The original intention of the painting may be a representation of the Colossus as symbolic of the Spanish people rising up against the Napoleonic oppressor, but it could also perhaps be a subconscious depiction of the terror of the population gathering united in fear against insurgent foreign forces. The sheer size of the Colossus is horrifying, his potential wrath is unpredictable, and the destruction that he could wreak beyond reason. Humanity trembles and scatters in his wake, seeking shelter and salvation however, wherever possible. His intentions here are uncertain, though, as his posture is ambiguous. Is he walking away, or summoning even greater forces of destruction, from some place beyond our vision? Has he passed on, or is he merely gathering his resources to turn and demolish the people?