The The Wreck of the Medusa Essay

3795 Words 16 Pages
“In the moonlight’s ghostly glow,
I waken in a dream.
Once more upon the raft I stand,
Upon the raging sea.
In my ears the moans and screams
Of the dying ring,
Somewhere in the darkness
The siren softly sings…”

“The architects of our doom
Around their tables sit,
And in their thrones of power,
Condemn those they’ve cast adrift.
Echoes down the city street,
Their Harpies laughter rings.
Waiting for the curtain call,
Oblivious in the wings.”


Excerpt from the lyrics, “The Wake of the Medusa”, By The Pogues




“The Raft of the Medusa”, by Theodore Gericault, 1819, was inspired by the catastrophic wreck of the French frigate, The Medusa, on July 2, 1816, off the west coast of Africa, during a voyage to Senagal. The ship ran aground on
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A raft was constructed from the masts and crossbeams of The Medusa, to carry the crew, soldiers and some of the passengers. Due to there only being six lifeboats aboard, the dignitaries, their families and other higher ranking officials took possession of them, leaving approximately 150 members for the raft. Seventeen crewmen decided, for whatever reason, to remain on The Medusa.
Those in the lifeboats quickly decided that towing the raft was impractical, and Governor Schmaltz, not Captain De Chaumereys, was the first to drop the tow line to the raft, leaving it to the cruelty of the open sea.
On the raft, the situation quickly deteriorated, and panic consumed those aboard. Fighting broke out, provisions were destroyed and the Raft of the Medusa’s infamous voyage commenced.
The first night 20 men were killed, or committed suicide, in a struggle to defeat terror, fear and dread. The undisciplined soldiers quickly staged a mutiny, eventually committed cannibalism and other atrocities, and 13 days later, 15 of the original 150 that went into the ocean survived to be rescued.
The following material is from eye witness accounts of two of The Medusa’s survivors, the ship’s Surgeon, Henri Savigny and ship’s Geographer, Alexander Correard. Much of the testimony of the two survivors was released to an anti-Bourbon newspaper, resulting in a scandal and political cover-up, and the court martial of Captain De Chaumereys.
According to the accounts…