On July 2, 1816 French frigate Méduse ran aground on the Bank of Arguin, off the coast of present-day Mauritania, with 400 passengers on board.
147 men were forced onto a makeshift raft, only 66 feet by 23 feet, cut adrift on the open sea. A storm swept many overboard; others, rebellious, were shot by officers; as rations dwindled, some resorted to cannibalism. The weak and wounded were thrown into the sea. Only 15 men survived.
The disaster was immortalized by Théodore Géricault’s painting “The Shipwreck of the Medusa.” It also inspired the “second book” of “Ocean Sea,” a 1993 novel by Italy’s Alessandro Baricco, which frames two monologues, one from the Méduse’s surgeon, Henri Savigny, another from a common sailor, both survivors. That proved the point