Aigamemnon (A Fragment)

by Kieran Healy on March 16, 2009

Citizens of Argos, you Elders present here, I shall not be ashamed to confess in your presence my fondness for my CEO, billions of dollars of losses notwithstanding.

First and foremost, it is a terrible evil for a wife to sit forlorn at one of her several homes, severed from her husband, always hearing many malignant rumors, and for one messenger after another to come bearing tidings of disaster, each worse than the last, and cry them to the household. Because of such malignant tales as these, many times others have had to loose the high-hung halter from my neck, held in its strong grip. It is for this reason, in fact, that our boy, Timmy, does not stand here beside me, as he should. For he is in the protecting care of well-intentioned taxpayers, who warned me of trouble on two scores—your own peril beneath Ilium’s walls, and then the chance that the people in clamorous revolt might nationalize everything, as it is natural for men to trample all the more upon the fallen. Truly such an excuse supports no guile.

Are you sure you should be paying out this money?

Thanks to a substantial injection of public funds, my heart is freed from its anxiety and the annual bonuses may be paid. [To AIGAMEMNON] So, my dear lord, dismount from your car, but do not set on common earth the foot that has trampled upon global markets. You to whom I have assigned the task to strew with bonuses, salary top-offs and the like, Quick! With something on the order of $160 million let his path be strewn, that Justice may usher him into a new quarter he never should have seen. The rest my unslumbering vigilance shall order duly, for if Geithner can be made to swallow this than, please god, pretty much fucking anything can be subsequently ordained.

Offspring of Leda, guardian of my house, your speech fits well with my views. Pamper me not as if I were a woman, nor, like some barbarian. For I do not take these gifts out of greed, but rather because my hands are tied with the bonds of contractual obligation. I find it difficult and distasteful to proceed in this fashion. But the gods of Serious Legal Consequences must be appeased and so unhappily I must shoulder the burden of paying out this money to employees who only recently crashed the global financial system.

Normally it’s the other way around, but I don’t believe this.

We honor the market thus; but it is not possible for a mortal to proceed with such barefaced cheek without fear. Thus I tell you it is better to revere me as a god. Only when man’s life comes to its end in taxpayer-funded, wholly unjustified prosperity dare we pronounce him happy; and if I may act in all things as I do now, and roll the Treasury in this quite spectacular fashion, I have good confidence that future creative restructuring solutions will likely eventuate similar outcomes. To have it turn out otherwise would be tantamount to Class Warfare. Besides, we are committed to seeking other ways to repay the taxpayers for supporting the Financial Products Division Retention Payments.

Such as what?

I was thinking maybe placing excrement in the trashcan of every citizen and setting it on fire on their doorstep.

What do you suppose that Priam would have done, if he had achieved your triumph?

He would have gone with the flaming poop at the outset, I certainly believe.

Then do not be be ashamed of mortal reproach.

And yet a people’s voice is a mighty power.

To be honest, I’m beginning to doubt it.



Nix 03.16.09 at 7:59 pm

OK, now I’ve read that, how do I get rid of the wheezing hiccups from minutes of concentrated laughter?

Brilliant stuff. More! More! (er, actually, since this means the financial system has to go into even deeper doldrums, less! less!)


MarkUp 03.16.09 at 8:08 pm

Was that Thursday Next over there, behind and to the left of Cassandra? When will Act II; Scream IV be posted?


JM 03.16.09 at 8:21 pm

And Aigamemnon answered, “Fly coach if you will, I shall make you no prayers to stay you. I have others here who will do me honour, and above all Karl Rove, the lord of counsel. There is no Cuomo here so hateful to me as you are, for you are ever quarrelsome and ill-affected, much like our Financial Products subsidiary. What though you be brave? Was it not heaven that made you so? Go home, then, with your Range Rovers and comrades to lord it over the Treasury Secretary. I care neither for you nor for your anger; and thus will I do: since Obama is taking Astynome’s dowry from me, I shall send her with a flaming bag of dog-poop, but I shall come to your tent and take your own prize, Societe Generale, that you may learn how much stronger I am than you are, and that another may fear to set himself up as equal or comparable with me.”


JM 03.16.09 at 8:26 pm

Well, that’s what I get for responding to the conceit without reading the whole thing, first. There was already flaming poop in the original.

I am so ashamed.


PeeJ 03.16.09 at 8:30 pm

Aigamemnon is hectoring the US.


Teresa Nielsen Hayden 03.16.09 at 8:47 pm

O, I am slain! I go now to bring these tidings to the fluorosphere.


Teresa Nielsen Hayden 03.16.09 at 8:48 pm

— No need. Patrick has already done so.


Aulus Gellius 03.16.09 at 9:12 pm

Not all that relevant, but no thread on such a joke would be complete without a link to Housman’s “Fragment”:


Anderson 03.16.09 at 9:15 pm

Unfortunately, in the production I’m watching, the role of Clytemnestra is being played by Barack Obama, who — besides looking just awful in drag — brings a “let bygones be bygones” spirit to the character that is ill-suited to the play.


Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) 03.16.09 at 11:28 pm

I could swear this production was being directed by Kermit the Frog, with Fozzie Bear playing the part of Geithner.


Jim Harrison 03.17.09 at 1:41 am

Nobody can compete with Housman. His fragment is the best parody every written.


kid bitzer 03.17.09 at 1:56 am

“if Geithner can be made to swallow this than, please god, ”

you want the other “then” there, kieran.

otherwise–fucking brilliant.


Erinyes 03.17.09 at 2:14 am

Stab him in the tub! Stab him in the tub!


andthenyoufall 03.17.09 at 3:17 am

This has inspired me to start composing the “Dance of the Seven Bailouts”


Glen Tomkins 03.18.09 at 6:10 pm

I’m confused

So, where does AIGisthos figure into all of this?

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