In NER 22.3 (2001), Jay Scott Morgan relates Goya’s painting, Saturn Devouring One of His Sons, to Richard Nixon and Vietnam, and that’s just for starters:
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Critics have called his Saturn a symbol of evil, a Satan, a monster, and that is how I first saw him – like a huge, mad Richard Nixon, devouring the young men of America through the Vietnam War: a cannibal father, jealous of our freedoms, determined to destroy us, our ideals, our hopes.
Thirty years later, the painting still evokes in me an interior terror, a sense of isolation, loneliness, grief–this god on his knees, tearing apart his own child, enshrouded in a blackness that is like a psychic tar, clinging to me, clinging me to him, to a drama of primal murderousness, so that now I seem to be participant as well as viewer. I look upon him, and I am implicated in the crime.
This story of fathers and sons is one of the foundation tales of Western tradition: Abraham binding his son Isaac for sacrifice on Mount Moriah; God offering the sacrifice of His son Jesus on the cross.