• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Omarosa, Adam, Agamemnon, Trump

August 2018


The president isn’t the first man to have been laid low by a woman. Shoot—to find such a man, such a first man, that is, one really needn’t work all that hard. Yes, one could doubtless go on searching the nooks and the crannies of every known civilization, through the unseen epochs of every hidden, ancient history, but such a pursuit would be a waste of one’s day. In fact, it would be wholly unnecessary to go off and scour the annals of our past. What a bore it would be to comb the endless pages of our time. The job might be more simply and merrily achieved if one is to reach back as far as one can go, to the very beginning, to that first of last days when the world had only just been built. It’ll be there that one finds the first man—yes, that first man—that flawed and bumbling masculine prototype of all posterity to come.


Adam, that now fallen, now vegetable-clad father to us all, will quickly prove the original case of a man having been laid low by a woman. It was he who, accompanied by his now favorite gal (so she was, if only by default), was forced prematurely to exit the garden and enter a postlapsarian state. But for what reason did he opt out of Elysium and into the cold hard working world teeming just beyond the pearly gates? What enticement could’ve been so alluring as to cause him to leave this guaranteed bounty and all of its perpetual fecundity behind?


If you ask him, as in so many words God proceeded to do, it was all because of her. She did it! Or, perhaps more specifically, she made me do it! Either way, in the blink of an eye, two new species—a tattletale and a scapegoat—were born out of the feeble mind of man. Right then and there, at the outset of Genesis, added to Yahweh’s list of creations was a petulant lad and an always beleaguered lass. At least once he was discovered by God hiding pointlessly behind some shrubbery courtesy of Eden, Adam had no compunction in laying his first sin on Eve—his beloved, albeit shamelessly disposable wife.


Laid low by a woman was Adam. At least until the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, by whose advent the production line and then the cubicle and then the Uber replaced the marshland and then the plow and then the camel, his descendants would be made to suffer for her (rather than his, mind you) sin. Before embracing an air-conditioned capitalist economy, the type we so take for granted today, to earn their keep, these future generations would be forced to sweat by their brows and ache joint by joint. Work would be incessant and harvests unsure. Worse still, they’d be made to do all of this manual labor without Fitbits, and Lazy Boys, and Amazon Prime accounts to relieve their all-too-human pains. All thanks be unto Eve.


From Adam to Agamemnon, so too was the father-warrior of Greece laid low by a femme fatale. Playing the role of Eve this time around was Clytemnestra—mother not of a species (as was that fertile Eve), but of a series of extraordinary events.


Having just finished a decade’s worth of combat and hardship, stratagem and scarcity, blood-letting and chicanery across the Aegean Sea, Agamemnon was ready to turn home. To his aching ears and his yearning heart, Europe beckoned and he readied himself to answer her call. At the same time, all of Turkey laid in waste—hushed into the oblivion of antiquity under fire and ruin. At least until the rise of the Ottomans and then the Ataturks and then the Erdogans centuries hence, this Arabic-Asiatic-ambiguous peninsula would be left to recuperate in quiet.


Joining Agamemnon’s long-sought desire to return home were many other comrades—many other brothers and subjects in-arms. Amongst such doughty patriots and heroes were the likes of Odysseus and Philoctetes—both of whom lived as royal natives in their antebellum land of Greece. As for the ill-fated Odysseus, home, of course, would be Ithaca; as for Philoctetes, still wounded and stripped of honor and armor, his destination would be Thessaly. Finally, as for our star Agamemnon, paterfamilias of Hellas and first amongst all Greeks, the place he loved best and called home was Mycenae.


Certainly, it was no Eden, but then again, Eden he knew not. That myth of the Levant—so ubiquitous and religiously fundamental in our own day—hadn’t yet reached Greek ears. Instead of Creation he knew Kronos, instead of the Flood, the Titanomachy. To him, those Egyptian plagues were mere child’s play when compared with that bane he and his ancestors faced. They were made to deal with the literal fallout from Pandora’s jar (not her box, to be sure, but her jar; the forgivable mistranslation is the handiwork of a Renaissance church elder by the name of Erasmus). In time, however, it would reach and inspire his Greek descendants, going so far as to germinate in that bemusing oddity that is the Eastern Orthodox Church.


No open adherent to the Hebraic law so far as we can tell, Agamemnon had committed many evils in his day. Amongst his transgressions were concubinage, murder, pride, infidelity, rapacity, cupidity, and rapine. He sacrificed for an advantageous wind his lovely young daughter, Iphigenia. Having procured said breeze, he set off immediately for Troy, where he defeated with no small combination of cunning and deceit an entire army. His thirst not yet slaked, he stole the princess and prophetess Cassandra—of whose divine skill he made no use. She, of course, could see into the future but no man would pay her auguries any mind.


But neither Iphigenia nor Cassandra proved ultimately the woman who would lay Agamemnon low. That distinction was reserved for his still grieving and fuming wife, the queen of Mycenae Clytemnestra. Upon receiving her picaresque husband back at home, she was prepared to put her years-long plan into action. Into execution, perhaps rather I should say, as Clytemnestra was fully determined to cut short her husband’s life—as he had her daughter’s so many years before.


Admitting him home in an air of celebratory insincerity, in a jubilant deceit, Clytemnestra and her scheming paramour, Aegisthus, carried out their fatal design. As Agamemnon settled into a much-needed bath, Clytemnestra descended upon him with baleful intent. Upon his immersed body, she tossed a pile of heavy robes, thus rendering him unable to escape. Constrained and submerged and without hope of egress, Agamemnon was a fish laying in a barrel. An easy kill, Clytemnestra proceeded to smite him with an ax—a most gruesome instrument of death if ever literature had forged one. Agamemnon might’ve returned to his home a monarch. Instead, he was laid low by an intimate murderess.


Later in another tale, whilst lamenting the sad end to his life, Agamemnon recounted the story to a fellow Grecian king, Odysseus. The latter was on a brief sojourn to the underworld (from his longer sojourn back home), as that treacherous and licentious Circe urged him to do. Conversing with ghosts already well beyond the river Styx, Odysseus was pleased to encounter Agamemnon, by whose side he’d fought so many battles against the Trojans over ten long years. Comrades and confidants once again, Odysseus urged Agamemnon to tell him about his most unexpected death.


Obliging, and probably happy just to have in his lifeless presence an old friend whose pulse still beat, Agamemnon recounted his plight. Much like that described above, he told how Clytemnestra did him wrong—laid him low—in the worst possible way. “There’s nothing more deadly nor bestial”, advised Agamemnon to his captive auditor Odysseus “than a woman set on works like these”. He continued, in a line immortalized by the Mississippi author and Nobel laureate William Faulkner, that “as I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not so much as close my own as I descended into Hades”. One is almost brought to sympathize with this daughter-slaying, princess-stealing anti-hero’s plight.


This leads us to the last and most recent man to have been laid low by a woman. The president, the bete noire of many a woman with whom he’s shared a bed (just ask the cottage industry of porn stars who’ve made second careers out of reproaching him for their consensual, extra-marital affairs), is no stranger to feminine assaults. Too often warranted, they catapult toward him like tomatoes during Spain’s “La Tomatina” event. For those unacquainted, it’s a curious and a raucous scene held annually in Valencia. From dawn till dusk, the plump red fruit is thrown at everyone within reach. As for the president, some tomatoes roll off of him, leaving him unsullied. Others besmirch him to the bone.


One such recent tomato was Omarosa Manigault. An erstwhile cast member of both his administration and his reality television show, Omarosa has since been fired from team Trump. Hoping to parlay her earlier successes, she authored a book entitled Unhinged, in which she details the president in all of his glory and controversy. Much of it has been proven salacious, much more, fatuous, but it has nevertheless caused a stir.


Such a stir, in fact, that the president heaped a pile of invectives on his former aide. Most memorable of said invectives was his calling Omarosa a “dog”. For having done so, the president was castigated widely. Never mind the fact that he’s called countless other enemies “dogs” or some variant to that effect. He’s working on literary precedent. You see, the president is simply taking the Agamemnon line—calling a woman (in his case, Omarosa) who’s laid him low a dog. The president is simply adding a little Homer to the White House, a little Sophocles to the Situation Room.


Every man who’s been laid low by a woman responds to the abuse in a different way. Adam shirked responsibility while Agamemnon heaped scorn. The former did so in life, the latter in death. Usually the president employs some kind of juvenile combination of the two—first evading culpability and then responding with a Tweet storm. That said, behind his invective (whether he knows it or not) is a tinge of history, behind his insult, a touch of mythology. And while Omarosa might not be a dog, only the president has looked into her eyes. Thus, he, like that ancient Agamemnon, would know better than I the canine’s glare.

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