Tiger Woods’ Historical Context, By Lewis Lapham

In Harper’s, Lewis Lapham provides some historical context for the sins of Tiger Woods:

If not as “irresponsible and selfish,” how else to characterize the behavior of Julius Caesar and Henry VIII, of Presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy? Why else do men seek wealth and power if not to seize the love of women? For as long as historians have been keeping score, the spoils of war and stock-market killings include the objects of affection plumped on the cushions in the other hero’s tent, wearing feathered hats in Paris, perched on bar stools in Las Vegas. The wrath of Achilles in Homer’s Iliad springs from Agamemnon’s taking from him the trophy of a captive concubine; Genghis Khan was of the opinion that “the greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies” and “to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms.” Bear in mind the seventy-two dark-eyed virgins awaiting martyred warriors in the Mohammedan paradise; examine the lives of victorious generals and famous poets, of leading statesmen and robust financiers (King Solomon, Mark Antony, Emperor Yang Ti, Pope Alexander VI, Suleiman the Magnificent, Louis XV, Lord Byron, J. Pierpont Morgan, Jackson Pollock), and nowhere is it written that they abstained from the enjoyment of the ladies of the morning, noon, or night.

Discussed elsewhere: Talleyrand, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Commodore Vanderbilt, and Grover Cleveland.

Tiger Woods’ Historical Context, By Lewis Lapham