9 –Tántalo (Tantalus)
This seemingly simple image is actually a complex criticism of the fate of young women shackled to old men in marriages of convenience. Goya writes of the image: ‘A young women at the side of an old man who does not satisfy her has had a swooning fit. If he were more suitable and less tiresome, she would revive.’
The title refers to the Greek myth of Tantalus who, after killing his son, was imprisoned by the gods, standing in a pond where the water reached his neck but receded every time he attempted to take a drink. Goya likens the young woman’s fate to that of Tantalus, saying she is ‘beside water, but cannot satisfy her thirst. Such is the fate of young women married to old men‘.