This panorama was taken near Carmel Point, the southernmost point of the coastline in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. The title, Aesacus, alludes to the myth memorialized in Chapter 11 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The youth Aesacus fell in love with Hesperia. As he pursued her, she was bitten by a snake and died. Aesacus gives a brief soliloquy lamenting her death, which he says was caused by him and the snake equally. The sentence after his speech contains one of my favorite images in Augustan-era poetry: “Dixit et e scopulo, quem rauca subederat unda, se dedit in pontum.” (“So he spoke, and from the cliff, which the rough waves had eaten away below, he gave himself to the sea.”) As Aesacus fell, the ocean goddess Tethys took pity on him and changed him into a diving bird. Watching the five diving birds in the photograph flying between rocks (eaten away by the sea) made me think at once of the Aesacus myth, which gave the scene such a mournful subtext.
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