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A Taste of the Lash

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...I'll take the rum and the sodomy.

"Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash."

Flagellation (more commonly called "flogging") is a method of punishment in which a person is beaten or whipped with a rod, a switch, or (most especially) a whip or a cat-o-nine-tails. Flogging was commonly used in various navies around the world during the time of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, especially as the sailors of the time were known to have a disregard for pain. A knotted piece of rope (called a "starter") was used to give "encouragement" to a lazy sailor, while the cat-o-nine-tails was used for harsher, more formal punishments. It was also commonly used by slave owners as a method of disciplining their slaves. Typically during a flogging, the prisoner is stripped naked (or at least stripped to the waist) and then hung upright or chained upright to a pillar or a post (or a pair of posts) in order to stretch them out. Standard practice was to whip the prisoner's back, as there is a greater chance of inflicting a fatal wound while whipping the chest. Depending on the region, more than one person might carry out the punishment.

In addition to its use as a punishment, flogging (especially self-flagellation) has been used by religious fanatics as a means of "mortification of the flesh". The person would basically torture themselves in order to feel what Christ felt and to suffer an immediate and rather determined form of self-sacrifice. This is based in the belief that by enduring the pain felt by Jesus during his persecution by the Romans, they become closer to the Son of God.

Lastly, some people use flogging as a means of sexual gratification. Naturally, in such uses, the flogging never approaches the violence levels reached during a punitive whipping, or at least rarely (though there are exceptions.). Such activity commonly causes bruising, but almost never breaks the skin or cuts the recipient, who is after all trying to enjoy himself or herself.

Flogging is still a legal punishment used in Brunei, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe to this day.

Note that people can and have been flogged to death. Given that the tip of a whip can easily break the sound barrier, a hundred lashes can easily kill, especially with a knout. (In the British Army during the Napoleonic era, the maximum number of lashes a soldier could be sentenced was one thousand two hundred, but then British whips were less hardcore than the Continental ones and the sentence would often be reduced anyway.note ) Even if you don't die in the process, a good traditional flogging will often result in you dying from your wounds and/or infection shortly after. This is the sort of flogging that was a popular form of punishment in Imperial Russia, in particular, where they used particularly coarse leather for these purposes. Due to this, it was also traditional to pay the executioner to go easy on someone, which still hurt like hell but generally wasn't fatal. It should also be noted that even if a victim survived a severe flogging, they could end up crippled for life, and in an era of single-income-earner families and little in the way of accessible charity on a large scale, this could leave the victim's family destitute.

Compare Cold-Blooded Torture, Amputative Sentencing and Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!. Contrast with Whip of Dominance. A form of Corporal Punishment. Not to be confused with an online "flog", which is a fake blog designed for advertising.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The first Berserk manga story has this happening to Guts at the hands of the village mayor's Torture Technician. Fortunately, Puck is there to heal him (though Guts isn't too appreciative of the little elf).
    • Farnese, during her messed up phase as a Holy See official, engaged in the occasional bouts of self-flagellation.
  • Cross Ange:
    • Ange is whipped when she is put on trial and sentenced to a hanging.
    • Embryo allows Sylvia to whip Liza as payback for capturing her and mind-controlling her traumatized, unstable self.
  • The Digimon Emperor tortured Takeru with his whip in the episode "The Darkness Before Dawn" of Digimon Adventure 02. Takeru stopped the whipping by catching the end of the whip with his bare hand.
    • Not to mention all his mooks, slaves, and Wormmon. He was almost never seen without his whip, after all.
  • In Fairy Tail, Erza Scarlet gets stripped naked, whipped, and slashed all over when she's captured by Tartarus.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Nakago does this to Tamahome, as well as to Ashitare.
  • Golgo 13: "Power to the People" sees Golgo tied up and forced to undergo a whipping by South African customs agents after discovering he's carrying a concealed submachine gun in his luggage. Oddly enough this is enough to make him laugh subtly.
  • Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics: The witch from "Brother and Sister" punishes her stepchildren by whipping them. When Rose fails to stop her from doing this, Rudolf shields her by covering her with his body.
  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: Alicia Crystella has a flashback of being hung from the ceiling naked and tortured with a whip. This didn't make it into the anime.
  • Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia: When Grabel is accused of treason, Zelshione has her suspended from the ceiling and tortures her with a whip, while using her hypnotic powers to turn the pain into pleasure to try to break her mind and turn her into a sex slave. In the light novel version, Grabel's clothes get torn to shreds by the whip. In the anime version, she is stripped naked before the whipping.
  • Lupin III: The Secret of Twilight Gemini: Sadachiyo subjects Fujiko to this type of torture, after she's caught snooping around Jean Pierre's hideout.
  • Precia Testarossa establishes herself as a supremely Evil Matriarch and quite possibly the cruelest villain in the entire Lyrical Nanoha series by doing this to her nine-year-old daughter Fate with the whip form of her Intelligent Device during her introduction scene (Arf's internal monologue implies that this is a regular occurrence). Sure, she is insane and broken but her Freudian Excuse does not justify her cruelty towards Fate at all.
  • In Maiden Rose, Hasebe canesnote  Klaus while he is tied to a chair during interrogation for treason.
  • In Sakura Gari, one of the "punishments" Katsuragi applies to Masataka is whipping him. Aside from raping him, subjecting him to an Ass Shove after the rape and burning his hand with boiling tea, that is. Later Masataka removes his shirt to show his fresh scars to his boss Souma aka the person that Katsuragi is yandere for, who gets very angry at the sight.
  • Episode 3 of Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid begins with Charlotte having Ange give Miyasato and Kouzuki a brutal whipping for failing to keep Mirei locked up.
  • Variable Geo: During the second episode, Chiho gets captured by The Jahana Group and is punished for spying on them. When she regains consciousness, she finds her wrists have been bound above her head and that she's been stripped down to her panties. Siritahi proceeds to whip her mercilessly, by not allowing her to pass out, then gives her an injection to enslave her.
  • World's End Harem: When Ms. Pope fails to stop Reito's group from escaping confinement, her superior Chloe Mansfield has her stripped, chained up, and whipped.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Ishtar siblings' abusive father tortured Rishid/Odion with a whip. This scene was cut out of the English dub.

    Comic Books 
  • Barracuda: In an effort to break Maria to his will, Ferrango has her stripped to the waist and flogged so brutally that it tears up her back and almost kills her. It does not break her and, if anything, only strengthens her resolve.
  • Subverted by Catwoman, who never uses her trademark whip to cut people — only to disarm, ensnare, or simply frighten them. She did once thrash Batman across the face with the butt of her whip, making him bleed, but that's not really a lashing.
  • Subverted in Empowered. Emp is defeated by a villain called "The Lash", the sole remaining member of (faux) British trio Rum, Sodomy, and The Lash (Rum was in rehab after his fifth drunk driving charge while Sodomy quit after becoming fed up explaining it was strictly heterosexual sodomy, leaving The Lash to do all three parts). He's about to whip her but realises they're standing in front of a fabric store, which brings up traumatic childhood memories of being bored out of his skull while his mom shopped for fabric, so he calls it a draw and leaves.
  • Preacher: When the future Saint of Killers ends up in Hell, his hatred for those who delayed him in getting medicine back to his family is such that it extinguishes the fires of Hell. When Satan finds out he flogs the man so mercilessly his spine is the only thing connecting both halves of his body, and even that isn't enough to break him. Only by taking the Angel of Death's place does he leave, allowing the fires to restart (and killing Satan as he leaves over an insult).
  • In The Smurfs album titled "The Smurf Menace", after Papa Smurf and a few of his Smurfs were caught outside the Gray Smurf prison camp, the two Smurfs were chained up with the Great Leader threatening to give them ten lashes each. When Papa Smurf tells his little Smurfs not to worry because the Gray Smurfs aren't real and they will soon be gone, one of the Gray Smurfs gives one of the chained Smurfs a whip lash.
  • Examples from Superman tales:
    • In Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom, proclaiming her love towards Darkseid gets aspiring Female Fury Maelstrom tortured and whipped.
    • In Adventure Comics #424: Crypt of the Frozen Graves, a mob boss tries to torture information out of Linda Danvers, unaware that she's just pretending to be in pain while she's being whipped.
    • During the "Candor" storyline, Ultraman and Saturn Queen take over the alien ghetto of Kandor -not to be confused with the self-named Bottle City- and maintain the populace subdued by means of frequent floggings.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Eviless, the founder and leader of Villainy Incorporated, is a cruel galactic slaver who uses a whip as her primary weapon.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire slave drivers use whips in addition to the remote control shock collars to punish and torment their slaves.

    Comic Strips 
  • Ming from Flash Gordon threatens his daughter Aura with various punishments for defying him, including having her whipped bloody.
  • Modesty Blaise: Lacey, the Big Bad of "The Young Mistress", has a fondness for using a riding crop on those who displease him; often delivering a thrashing severe enough to require medical attention. He does it to his lover/forger, to her ex-boyfriend, and plans to do it to Modesty.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "The Enchanted Quill": The main character's unwanted and rejected suitors intend to get revenge on her by cornering her and whipping her; though, she realizes their plan and uses her magic quill to force the trio to whip themselves.

    Fan Works 
  • Leego, the Rodian taskmaster from Alien Exodus, delights in tormenting the slaves with his whip. Bellona is living proof of that.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In Advisers Advise, from a discussion with her inner circle on how to punish her minions, in a way she'd be willing to do:
    "...flogging is used even in some surface armies," Cathy's energetic voice sounded behind her. The tall blonde was gesticulating with her hands, apparently trying to convince her boyfriend of something.
  • In the Fairy Tail fanfic I Will Always Follow You, a possessed Lucy subjects Natsu to this. To his credit, he eggs it on saying things that would piss off the Lucy he knows to get a reaction out of her to see if she is still there. It works but he gets several lashes for his efforts.
  • In The Lord of the Rings fanfic Left, Frodo gets whipped by a tower orc if he so much as moves around.
  • Poor John Gage in the Emergency! fic "Lost and Found". He's held captive for 18 months and appears to have been strung up in handcuffs and "punished" this way quite often. By the time he snaps, kills the scumbag, and is found wandering, his back is covered in scars. One of his flashbacks describes a cat o'nine tails-type whip. And as if that weren't horrific enough, he mentions to Roy that sometimes his captor would rape him as well while he hung there.
  • In Loved and Lost, Shining Armor — who has become a Hero with Bad Publicity along with Twilight's friends and Princess Celestia because of Prince Jewelius — is flogged in the 11th chapter by his rival Commander Hildread as an example to the Royal Guard he's charged of disgracing.
  • In The Prayer Warriors Battle With The Witches, Dumbledore's first scene involves him whipping a student for praying. Previously, in "The Evil Gods Part 1", Percy Jackson, after converting, is so overwhelmed with remorse for his past sins that he whips himself.
  • Pulse and Void, a dark My Hero Academia fic, Yamada Hizashi aka Present Mic is captured by a villain with an energy siphoning quirk and brutally tortured. His back is so raw and covered in so many gouges by the time he’s rescued that it borders on Flaying Alive — there’s not much skin left, as it was a cat-o-nine-tails like device. (Dark artwork warning)
  • In The Simpsons fic Something Better, Helen's strict parents find out that she's dating Timothy and give her a lashing with a switch. They then tell Helen to marry her boyfriend.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, Mildew's cruelty as jarl under King Mac Bethad isn't limited to keeping dragons chained up; people in his village routinely receive excessive punishments for minor misdeeds; one fisherman was whipped to death for telling other fishermen from other villages about the dragons that Mildew was training for Mac Bethad.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • The sadistic slaveowner Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave quotes Scripture to justify his beatings of his slaves, saying that Scripture condones lashing indolent servants with as many as one hundred and fifty strokes. On a more practical level, he has any slave whipped who picks less than 200 pounds of cotton in one day. When he feels particularly sadistic, he'll force one slave to whip another.
  • One of the first scenes in Against All Flags is British naval officer Errol Flynn being flogged so he can pose as a common seaman who's deserted and infiltrate a Pirate stronghold. When he's examined by some pirate leaders (supposedly) a few weeks later, one says he recognizes the style of the sadistic bosun who did the flogging — he likes to "sign his name" on the victim's back with the last several strokes.
  • In Anne of the Indies, Pierre is flogged as a spy when he returns to the pirate ship after disappearing in Nassau.
  • Happens to the eponymous The Barbarians Kulchek and Gor when they're child slaves. Separated, each brother is whipped by a man in a black or gold mask respectively until adulthood. Then they're each put in the other's tormentor's mask and turned loose on each other for the Big Bad's amusement.
  • In The Blue Iguana, Floyd has a man tied up and whipped in front of a bank.
  • In The Bold Caballero, the Commandante and his sergeant are both very fond of using a whip upon the local natives.
  • The Bull of the West: In an attempt to teach his son Will not to be weak like him, Ben Justin rips the shirt off his back and almost takes a bullwhip to him, but is stopped by the Terrible Ticking inside his head.
  • Charles Bronson is stripped to the waist and hung by his wrists to be whipped in Chino.
  • In The Corpse Vanishes, Dr. Lorenz uses a whip to discipline his hunchbacked assistant Mike when he catches Mike interfering with the corpses of the brides in the crypt.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), the inmates of Château d'If are given a lashing on the anniversaries of their arrivals, with one lash per year. Done just to remind them how long they had been there.
  • In Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the Robomen use whips on the slaves working in the mine.
  • In Death Rides a Horse, Pedro goes absolutely ballistic and nearly whips Bill to death after Bill kills his equally-evil brother Manuel.
  • Die Another Day: It's implied that this happened to Bond at some point during the 1.5 years he was held prisoner in North Korea, given the scars on his back.
  • In Django Unchained, both Django and Broomhilda bear the scars of the whipping they received at the hands of the Brittle Brothers for attempting to run away from the Carrucan plantation. When Django tracks them down after being freed by Dr. King Schultz, their leader Big John is about to whip another slave for breaking eggs. After shooting and killing Big John, Django takes the slave-driver's whip to Roger, the one who whipped Broomhilda, in an awesome act of vengeance before killing him with his own gun.
  • This happens to Danielle in Ever After after she attacks her stepsister Marguerite. The flogging occurs off-screen. After the stepmother sentences Danielle to be flogged, it cuts to the nicer stepsister, Jacqueline, treating the lashes on Danielle's back.
  • Flavia the Heretic: When Flavia is caught and returned to the convent, she is whipped for having had the audacity to run away.
  • In Ghost Rock, Pickett sentences Wu Chen to 50 lashes for daring to stand up to his thugs who were attempting to drive the Chinese settlers off their land.
  • Glory: One of the soldiers (played by Denzel Washington, who won an Oscar for the role) is whipped for going AWOL. When they strip his back to administer the punishment, it is clear that he's quite familiar with being whipped. And while he is being whipped, his eyes do not waver at all from his commanding officer.
  • In High Plains Drifter Marshal Duncan was whipped to death in the street. Yes, you can be whipped to death. The Stranger then gets revenge on those who did it and he whips one to death in the flame-lit street and hangs another with a whip.
  • In the film Horatio Hornblower, Hornblower orders a crewman flogged specifically because one of his lieutenants threatened the man publicly with it, and Hornblower feels his duty to support his officers is more important than his dislike of the lash. But he lectures the lieutenant about it afterwards.
  • In Horror Express, Captain Kavan brutally lashes a man with a cat-o'-nine-tails for calling him a fool.
  • Quasimodo is flogged in all adaptations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while Frollo does this to himself in the 1997 version.
  • In Hot Spur, Carlo flogs the naked Susan as part of his Revenge by Proxy.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this happens to Indiana and his sidekick Short Round when they try to resist their abductors.
  • Elvis is "flogged" in Jailhouse Rock, though it's not done seriously.
  • Set to music in Jesus Christ Superstar. (The lyrics are Pontius Pilate counting off lashes.)
  • Happens to Ballu in Khalnayak at the hand of his former childhood friend, Ram. Unfortunately for Ram, Ballu is Too Kinky to Torture.
  • Last Train from Gun Hill: When Rick first accosts Catherine, she lashes him with her buggy whip; cutting open his cheek and leaving him with a Revealing Injury.
  • In Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence is flogged by the Turkish officer when captured.
  • Louis, the Child King: Philippe d'Orléans is whipped on his naked butt for being too cheeky.
  • The Manhunt: After being caught on Robeson's ranch following his first escape, Forrest has the stranger strung up in the barn and administers a flogging to him before handing him over to the sheriff.
  • The Man Who Came Back: Even though slavery has officially ended, Billy Duke still carries a whip as he did when he was a slave owner, and uses it to inflict a merciless whipping on Grandpa when he catches the old man and his family attempting to leave the plantation. The scars on Grandpa's back reveal that endured many such whippings when he was a slave.
  • InThe Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Toby discovers Javier/Quixote flagellating himself with thorny branches, leaving deep cuts on his back.
  • In Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World, a sailor is flogged for disrespecting an unlucky officer who is being scapegoated as a Jonah. Captain Jack Aubrey goes through with the flogging despite not wanting to (he likes the sailor in question, and more than that is one of the people who thinks the scapegoated officer actually is a Jonah) because discipline must be maintained.
    Capt. Jack Aubrey: I am not a flogging captain!
  • Masters of the Universe: After capturing He-Man, Skeletor has him flogged with a laser whip to try to force him to kneel. He remains standing as the other heroes arrive.
  • Flogging occurs in both versions of Mutiny on the Bounty, as well as a third version of the story, The Bounty.
  • A Night at the Opera: Near the beginning, Lassparri chases Tomasso and hits him with a cat-o'-nine-tails after catching him in his dressing room trying on his costume. Surprisingly, despite being a Marx Brothers film, it's not Played for Laughs.
  • The Casual Kink version occurs in The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill, where High-Class Call Girl Kissey lightly flogs the masochistic Count de Sade.
  • Presented rather gruesomely in The Passion of the Christ, when the Romans flog the ever-loving poop out of Jesus. It's a lot more gorny than you'd expect from a religious flick. A bit of accidental Enforced Method Acting is involved — in one take, the whip actually hits the actor, instead of the board they'd placed on him to protect his back.
  • The Pianist: One particular SS officer that Szpilman runs into in the ghetto is particularly fond of whipping the slave laborers under his supervision. At one point, he beats a row of workers simply to celebrate New Year's Eve.
  • Bootstrap Bill Turner is forced to flog his son Will in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. He mentions that if he hadn't done it, the boatswain would have, and he takes pride in "cleaving flesh from bone" with each strike.
  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1991) opens with Torquemada ordering a man's body disinterred from his crypt and flogged for his sins. Later the man's young son is flogged in front of the crowd at his wife's execution. Later, when Torquemada is having impure thoughts regarding Maria, he orders his Torture Technician Mendoza to flog him.
  • The Proposition features a realistically stomach-churning sequence where a prisoner is sentenced to a hundred lashes.
  • In The Ramrodder, after claiming Tuwana as his squaw, Brave Eagle hangs her from a tree, strips her naked, and savagely flogs her.
  • Daguerre attempts to sentence Robert Hode to this in Robin Hood (1991). Hode's refusal to accept this punishment and his subsequent insulting of Daguerre result in his being outlawed.
  • The Scavengers: When Jess is explaining to Nancy that there are worse things than rape, she slides her dress off her shoulders to show her the scars she received from being flogged after a slave in the cotton mill stole and the overseers randomly chose her to make an example of.
  • In Snuff Movie, Wendy is flagellated with cat-o-nine tails before being crucified.
  • In Starship Troopers, Rico is subject to "administrative punishment" after he bungles a live-fire training exercise, resulting in the death of another cadet. This consists of being strung up and whipped ten times. Dialog early in the movie indicates this is relatively standard fare, with Rico's father indicating he'd rather be lashed in the public square than have Rico join the MI.
  • Anthony Hope from the film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gets this courtesy of the Beadle on orders from Judge Turpin for "gandering" at his ward.
  • Happens in The Ten Commandments (1956). Baka intends to kill Joshua this way after Joshua attacks him to free his girlfriend, but Moses intervenes and kills Baka before he can finish.
  • Timber Falls: As punishment for failing to have sex with Cheryl as commanded, Deacon lashes Mike with a cat-o'-nine-tails.
  • Timbuktu: The brutal jihadists that take over Timbuktu impose flogging as a punishment for stuff like playing soccer or singing.
  • In Tower of London, Wyatt was subjected to this by Richard to force information on the treasure's whereabouts out of him. He doesn't budge.
  • In Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Lucian is subjected to this at the hands of Viktor, who sentences him to thirty lashes for betraying his trust, and even one lash is brutal enough to Lucian. Viktor makes it quite clear that he wants Lucian to suffer, even after the first twenty-one lashes, and even forbids Sonja, his own daughter who is in a star-crossed relationship with Lucian, from intervening on pain of severe punishment.
  • Little Bill kills Ned this way in Unforgiven, setting the stage for the protagonist's final vengeance.
  • When Taekwondo Strikes: In the basement of the Bansan Karate School, Japanese spies whip handcuffed captives on the chest and stomach.
  • In Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, Colonel Torres has a captured Indian flogged for the pleasure of hearing him scream.



  • There is a joke involving three men who are each sentenced to receive 100 lashes with a whip as punishment. They are also each granted a single request. The first man requests to have a pillow strapped to his back. After 20 lashes, the pillow is destroyed, so the man only receives 80 lashes. The second man saw what happened to the other guy, so he asks for two pillows strapped to his back. After 20 lashes, the first pillow is destroyed, and the second is destroyed after another 20, so the man only receives 60 lashes. The third man saw what happened to the other two and thinks for a long time about his request... then asks to have one of the other two men strapped to his back.

  • A standard naval punishment in the Wooden Ships and Iron Men IN SPACE! Alexis Carew novels. In particular, Captain Neals in the second book is noted as a "Tartar", a captain very free with the cat, and regularly orders that the last man down the mast at shift change be flogged. This naturally results in the crew throwing safety to the wind in their haste to reach the bottom, eventually resulting in two of them going overboard and being lost in space. As a midshipman, Alexis cannot be flogged no matter how much Neals wants to, until he disrates her for disobeying his demand to Kneel Before Zod and promptly gives her twenty lashes on general principles. The log of his excessive floggings is eventually his undoing at Court Martial: it's revealed that he did it roughly twice as often as the tribunal would expect of even a captain with an extraordinarily unruly crew.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Captain Jack Aubrey is considered a stern but fair commander, and one of the reasons for this is that he dislikes imposing more than a dozen lashes, and only imposes even that punishment when it's absolutely required to maintain discipline on his ship. He much prefers to dock troublemakers' grog rations, especially if whatever they did was done drunk. By contrast, Jack has served under and alongside a number of officers who quite like the lash, and is well aware that it does not endear the men to their officers.
  • In Barber Black Sheep, protagonist Oliver Winslow is punished this way during his stay in Flitwith Prison.
  • In The Belgariad, Silk mentions that in his day, flogging was a punishment for sloppy work by students of the intelligence service's academy. Apparently it's "a very effective teaching tool", though he doesn't comment on whether or not he knows this from personal experience.
  • In Billy Budd, Billy, on the day after his impressment, witnesses the flogging of a young novice and is horrified.
  • Brave New World: How John the Savage punishes himself.
  • Dive (2003): Blade carries a whip everywhere with him and loves using it on his crewmen at the slightest excuse.
  • Roran is flogged in Brisingr for disobeying orders during a battle (never mind that his superior actually lauded his actions, which saved many of his subordinates’ lives. The problem was that he couldn’t be seen to be getting away with insubordination).
  • Carrera's Legions is yet another Military Science Fiction story that draws inspiration from Starship Troopers, with the titular mercenary outfit punishing middling-serious crimes and derelictions that do not warrant execution with public lashing. Though it also deconstructs this: a lashing is always followed by a dishonorable discharge since this sort of humiliation will effectively destroy the subject's worth as a soldier anyway (whether due to the damage done to him or to his dignity before the other men).
  • In Catching Fire, the second book of The Hunger Games series, Romulus Thread reinstitutes whippings as punishments. Gale receives a flogging after being caught poaching.
  • In Christian Nation, the POWs are treated to this whenever one of their own commits an offense that's worthy of flogging.
  • Happens to Little Bee, a maid in David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story, "The Black Stranger," has a harrowing scene in which Valenso, a vicious pirate, has his niece Belesa's protegee, a young girl by the name of Tina, subjected to this because he thinks she's lying about the coming of the title Black Man.
  • A few months before the start of the story in The Curse of Chalion, Lupe dy Cazaril (then a galley slave) antagonized the slavemaster in order to protect another slave; it was mostly luck that he survived the resulting flogging. Since lifting the titular curse requires that someone lay down their life three times for the house of Chalion, the fact that a flogging stands a decent chance of killing you and Cazaril provoked one anyway is actually a very important plot point.
  • In The Da Vinci Code, Silas the Albino flogged himself to a bloody pulp out of a sense of religious fanaticism.
  • The Deed of Paksenarrion: As a recruit in Duke Phelan's Company of mercenaries, Paks witnesses two other recruits being flogged for crimes against the Company, before being branded and banished from the Duke's lands. The one charged with minor crimes gets five strokes that hurt but do little real damage; the one who led the conspiracy and then tried to escape by force is given forty strokes "well-marked", the last five with extra force. When it's over, his whole back is covered in blood and he's fainted from the pain of it. However, the guardsman wielding the lash is careful not to inflict lethal or even crippling damage.
  • In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Del amor y otros demonios, Father Cayetano Delaura flogs himself while in an Heroic BSoD state after he realises that Sierva Maria is getting to him. His superior finds him half-dressed, exhausted, and almost delusional after all the self-torture.
  • Not quite flogging, but a Discworld novel cites an incident where a witch caught a traveling peddler beating his exhausted, overloaded donkey. She grabbed the riding crop out of his hands and used it to strike him in the face twice, saying: "Hurts, doesn't it?"
    • A little old lady that William de Worde hires at the end of The Truth had previously submitted a letter to the editor, in which she recommended that anyone under the age of 18 should be flogged daily to stop them from being so noisy. "That'll teach them to go around being young."
  • In The Divine Comedy, the punishment for the seducers and pamperers (pimps) damned in the first ring of the eighth Circle of Hell is to be forced to march around said ring while being constantly whipped by demons.
  • Dolphin Trilogy: In Destiny and the Dolphins, the diamond thieves whip Syn to force her to tell them where the diamond mine is.
  • In Patricia Briggs' Dragon Bones Oreg has a flashback to being whipped after laying a curse on one of his old masters. His powerful magic makes the damage real, at least until he can get enough of a grip to heal himself again. It's noted that the only part of his body left without lacerations is the top of his head, and his face is almost unrecognisable, with one cheek slashed down to the bone.
  • Eric, or Little by Little: After Eric is kneecapped by the sadistic skipper of the Stormy Petrel, he becomes unable to do any work at all. When the skipper orders him to furl a sail, Eric tries to climb the rigging but can't. The skipper orders him tied to the rigging by his hands and whips him on the back with a rope until one of the sailors warns that continuing the beating will kill him.
  • In Fractured Stars, prisoners on Frost Moon 3 are punished with an e-whip, a lightning-like cord of energy that leaves deep burn marks.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Guns of Tanith, Lijah "That Fething Bastard" Cuu gets flogged for looting. This ends...badly.
  • Barahkukor in ŠvejkMaryGentle's Grunts! finds some of his female orcs flogging a female elf (a reporter for Warrior of Fortune magazine). At first he's pleased to see them keeping up with tradition, but then the elf turns her head and complains, "You stopped." One of the other orcs present complains "She's had ages, Sarge! It's my turn next!"
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry overhears Argus Filch gleefully reading that Professor Umbridge, who with Dumbledore on the run has just been named headmistress, has just lifted the school's ban on whipping students. With the ban lifted, Filch and Umbridge corner the Weasley twins, whose newest prank is turning a school hallway into a swamp, and declare that they shall be whipped. The two, however, manage a dramatic escape. After this, it's said that Filch would prowl the corridors with horsewhip in hand, desperate to catch students in the act, but there were now so many causing chaos that he didn't know which way to turn.
  • David Feintuch's Seafort Saga series about the damned Captain Nicholas Seafort has constant floggings of the adolescent cadets and midshipmen - pretty expected since though it is a story about interstellar space vessels, it is based on "Hornblower" and other Napoleonic sea tales.
  • Horatio Hornblower: Corporal punishment like flogging or caning appears often, sometimes presented as just punishment, sometimes as injustice. As a commander, Hornblower hates to administer floggings, because he believes that it breaks the spirit of good men, and makes bad men worse. He's squeamish about them, as well.
    He was ashamed of the fact that he looked upon punishment as a beastly business, that he hated ordering it and dreaded witnessing it. The two or three thousand floggings he had witnessed in the last twenty years had not succeeded in hardening him—in fact he was much softer now (as he was painfully aware) than as a seventeen-year-old midshipman.
  • In the Knight And Rogue series by Hilari Bell, after the title characters get press-ganged onto a ship the threat of horrible floggings is always at hand. Michael, the knight, is eventually seriously flogged. The flogging scars, combined with his Mark of Shame, cause most people to assume he's a hardened criminal.
  • In Martín Fierro: At Song III of this Narrative Poem, Fierro says that when the conscripted soldiers arrived at the Frontier, an official told them that anyone who tries to desert will get five hundred strokes, and so he could count himself as dead.
  • In The Mermaid, Amelia, who can transform between a human woman and a mermaid, is hired as an attraction by P.T. Barnum. Barnum sends her on tour with a variety of other attractions, including an orangutan whose handler keeps her in a tiny cage without enough food or water and beats her if she moves too slowly. One day Amelia sees the handler whipping the orangutan, leaving stripes on her neck and shoulders. Amelia grabs the whip and lashes him across the left cheek, leaving a welt from his mouth to his ear.
  • Les Misérables: When Valjean thinks or talks about prison, stick blows will come up sooner or later as inevitable as the tides.
  • In More Than Human, Lone breaks into the tyrannical Mr. Kew's yard, drawn by the signal from his daughter Evelyn's mind. When Mr. Kew sees the two of them, he starts whipping Lone.
  • In Mr. Revere and I, the redcoat Giles Treadwell deserts the English army after receiving 25 lashes because he didn't salute Sir Cedric the right way.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: An important part of Kvothe's legend building in The Name of the Wind is when he is flogged as a punishment at the Academy - he takes a drug beforehand to dull the pain, which has the side effect of constricting the blood vessels and causing him not to bleed - earning him the nickname "Bloodless".
  • In the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel, which is the autobiographical story of the author's time in a concentration camp when he was young, he is whipped for inadvertently seeing one of the officers seeing a woman and preparing to have sex with her.
  • This happens three times to Jamie in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. The scars from the whipping are meant to mark a person as a criminal.
  • Seyonne in Carol Berg's Rai Kirah series gets this a few times, mostly as part of his time in slavery. He also has scars on his back from previous occasions.
  • Cluny the Scourge, the villainous rat of the Talking Animal book Redwall, whips his subordinates with his own tail. Since presumably he couldn't hit someone hard enough to kill them without breaking his tail, if he wants to actually kill them he attaches a poisoned metal barb to it. Another Big Bad, the Lawful Evil Vilu Daskar, uses a particularly nasty variation on this as a punishment for theft aboard his ship; the perpetrators are strung upside-down from the mast, given twenty lashes, have their wounds washed with seawater, and cut down after several hours.
  • In The Scar by China Meiville, Bellis and Tanner are both flogged for treason after they unwittingly call New Crobuzon's ships down on Armada.
  • In the Sharpe series, Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill had Sharpe flogged while the latter was still a private in India. This was only one of the reasons that Sharpe hated Hakeswill and considered the man his Arch-Nemesis, and why he never has one of his own men flogged once he becomes an officer.
  • In Skin of the Sea, Simi rescues Kola, a boy thrown overboard from a slave ship, and finds that his back is covered in lash marks. She treats them with crushed wild lettuce.
  • Spellster: Tracker reveals he was beaten and whipped multiple times during his childhood as punishment.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers has Johnny Rico get flogged for disobeying orders during a Mobile Infantry training exercise. It is also mentioned, in terms of an Author Tract, that in his society being "flogged in the public square" is considered a valid and effective punishment for minor crimes (major ones are punished by death) and is also used as a visceral warning to those watching the punishment. It should be noted that punitive floggings in this novel are closely monitored by a doctor to ensure that no permanent damage is done, and the punishment is followed immediately by treatment. It does not even leave scars.
  • In apparent reference to Starship Troopers, the Theirs Not to Reason Why series uses canings for corporal punishment of Terran military personnel. In the first book, a Marine recruit is caned before his dishonorable discharge for stealing a Static Stun Gun and attacking his fellow recruits and the drill instructor before attempting to desert.
  • Temeraire, being a Wooden Ships and Iron Men series WITH DRAGONS!, has this show up out of necessity a few times.
    • In His Majesty's Dragon, Laurence mentions briefly that, when he was still in the navy, one of his past captains took a dislike to him (due to Laurence's good manners) and that he frequently ordered Laurence flogged or beaten. Laurence conjectures that if said captain had not died of dysentery, the abuse might have cost Laurence his life.
    • In Black Powder War, Laurence has to order his own aviators flogged a couple times. Both times he hates to do it but is forced to; once because his man hits a superior naval officer and needs to be appropriately punished to keep the sailors from turning against the aviators, and again when two of his men break a pretty important law while in Istanbul and this is the alternative to letting them be executed. Both times he is hugely uncomfortable with the proceedings. In the second incident, he insists on keeping the count himself silently, so he can stop it early and pretend that they received more lashes than they actually did.
    • In Empire of Ivory Laurence himself is flogged while being held prisoner. We don't know how severe it is since it's from his perspective and he loses count at around ten, but he does end up being delirious for a week.
  • Janny Wurts' novel To Ride Hells Chasm does a fantastic job of showing the class prejudices of a medieval-type society, the hero is whipped for not showing proper respect to "his betters".
  • The Vazula Chronicles: In A Kingdom Threatened, the increasingly paranoid and magic-hating King Matlock orders that the twins Germain and Jacqueline be separated from their mother so their powers can be assessed. Heath refuses to pledge loyalty to a king who would break up a family and treat two infants like criminals. For his defiance, Matlock sentences Heath to five lashes at the public flogging post.
  • In order to encourage Skeeter in his training for Gladiator Games in Wagers of Sin, he's given a taste of the lash.
  • "The Whacko" in World War Z talks about how during the war, old-world punishments like lashings and stockades were instituted, since incarceration drained scarce resources with minimal return on the state's investment. He notes that while he thought such punishments were barbaric, he couldn't argue with the results.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of 'Allo 'Allo!, after the wacky scheme du jour fails Edith decides to indulge in some flagellation as penance. Played for Laughs as all she can think to use is wet spaghetti.
  • Around The World In 80 Days (2021): Episode 5 sees Fogg wrongly arrested for theft in Hong Kong and sentenced to a dozen lashes at the stroke of noon. Abigail and Passepartout scramble to clear his name first, arriving with a pardon as the clock strikes. Fogg escapes all but one lash, as the creators wanted to avert Just in Time.
  • Babylon 5 uses this twice.
    • In the episode "The Summoning", Centauri Emperor Cartagia orders that G'Kar to be whipped until he dies or screams, whichever comes first. For no reason beyond the fact that he wants to hear the Narn scream. He specifically orders that the "pain technicians" use a special high-tech whip that gradually increases the level of pain until dealing a fatal blow at lash number 40. G'Kar stubbornly refuses to scream until the 39th lash, even then only doing it to keep Cartagia from ruining his and Londo's plan to assassinate him and end the occupation of the Narn homeworld.
    • In the episode "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari", Londo experiences a mental re-creation of G'Kar's whipping — only this time Londo is being whipped and G'Kar is calling out the strokes, and the objective is to get Londo to say he's sorry. It's all happening inside Londo's mind, but it's strongly implied that if the fortieth stroke falls, it will kill him for real.
  • Bones:
    • In "Mayhem on a Cross," Lance Sweets is shown to have scars on his back indicating he was whipped. It's revealed his own foster parents did it when he was just a six-year-old kid..
    • In "The Archeologist in the Cocoon," the Victim of the Week has scars to his skeleton indicating he was whipped at some point. His wife confirms that her father did it to punish him for their relationship.
  • Chappelle's Show does a sketch poking fun at the actors of Roots (1977) during a whipping scene.
  • The Collector's protagonist was a flagellant monk.
  • Not an official punishment, but it was used by Lady Heather in the CSI episode "Pirates of the Third Reich" on the guy who killed her daughter. Grissom catches up to her in the desert to find her flogging the guy, who's tied to the hood of her car.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Sorrow Songs", a band of gypsies attempts to flog one of their number before banishing him when they believe him guilty of murder. Lucien and Charlie intervene before the flogging can be carried out.
  • Father Brown: In "The Cat of Mastigatus", Father Brown that a boys' school has a secret history of inflicting terrible Corporal Punishment on boys using a modified taws called 'the cat of mastigatus', that leaves permanent scars and permanently crippled the hands of one boy.
  • Forever: The victim of the week in "The Ecstasy of Agony" was flagellated, in this case as part of "domination therapy".
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: In "Gladiator", an evil queen captures several men for Gladiator Games, including Hercules. The queen takes a liking to Hercules and offers to spare him from the games if he'll become her boy toy. When he refuses, she angrily orders him whipped. The whipping is offscreen, then he is dragged into his cell with whip marks on his back, and it takes him time to recover.
  • In the miniseries Horatio Hornblower (an adaptation of the book), several characters receive corporal punishments.
    • "The Examination for Lieutenant": Sailor Bunting deals badly with the death of his friend, hunger, and fear of starvation. He's later caught stealing food. Captain Pellew is disgusted and orders a gauntlet for him. Hornblower feels responsible because he should have dealt with him earlier, so Pellew concludes that Hornblower will make amends by leading Bunting through the gauntlet himself.
    • "Munity": Crazy Captain Sawyer has Mr Midshipman Wellard beaten... because he was only doing his duty and belayed Captain's order, otherwise their sail would tear. Later he has him beaten again because he thinks Wellard conspires against him and wants him to confess to mutiny. Most characters feel it is an injustice, and Mr Hornblower speaks up for him, which earns him a continuous watch that keeps being extended to whole days. And if an officer is caught sleeping on his watch, he will be sentenced to death.
    • "Duty": Captain Hornblower orders flogging to Styles who was in charge of the kitchen and its stove's fire might have burnt their ship down. Other people aboard suggest he should be hanged for it but Mr Bush spoke for him as it was not intention, but negligence. However, it was actually the antagonist Wolfe who set Styles up.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The orcs are shown whipping the enslaved villagers of the Southlands in a graphic manner.
  • Alluded to in Merlin (2008) by King Uther. "If this were a time of war, I would have you flogged".
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Blood Wedding", Barnaby goes to question The Vicar only to find him flagellating himself in church.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Bayou", white slaver Jake Morgan whips any girl who attempts to escape.
  • In Roots (1977) (as in real history) the slaves are whipped for just about any reason.
  • In the second season of See, Baba Voss is tortured via whipping on the orders of his younger brother Edo. Since most people are blind in that universe, the whips are guided towards Baba's body via ropes. And the whips appear to have cutting material on them considering the horrific state of Baba's back after they're used on him.
  • Flogging is used as a threat to get soldiers in line in Sharpe. Richard often removes his shirt to display his flogging scars and show enlisted soldiers that he understands what they're going through.
  • Star Trek:
  • Disney's The Swamp Fox has a scene of this in the episode "Tory Vengeance". Marion's nephew, "Young" Gabe Marion, is flogged by Col. Townes in an attempt to force him to disclose the location of Marion's base. Marion storms the place with his brigade and rescues Gabe, only for the boy to be shot moments after he's freed from the ropes.
  • Disney's Zorro (1957) in "The Agent of the Eagle" The corrupt Magistrado and false Comandante had a man chained to a well's spoke and whipped for the spurious charge of poaching on the king's land. The corrupt leaders and bad guys also frequently threatened to whip those who are unfortunate to earn their ire.

  • The original lines of the sea shanty "What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor" include the punishment "Give him a taste o' the Captain's Daughter". The Captain's Daughter was a nickname for the cat o' ninetails, meaning the song calls for a lashing. The choral "way, hey, up she rises" gains actual meaning with this interpretation, referring to the rise of the lash before it's brought down.
  • Apocalypse Orchestra's "Flagellants' Song" is about "mortification of the sinful flesh":
    Raise your whip and flay your flesh
    Join our congregation
    True believers come with us
    In corporeal damnation
    To feel glory
    When sinew is stripped from bone
    And to feel closer
    To he who made this our life
  • In the video for The Captain by Biffy Clyro, Simon Neill (as the titular pirate captain) is shown being flogged by a naval officer.
  • The video clip of Rammstein's "Rosenrot" depicts the band members as priests who flog themselves. No fake whips or special effects were used when filming the scene — they were actually whipping themselves in reality, just like the wounds were real.
  • In the full version of Blind Dance by Violet UK, it's implied the protagonist has just been the recipient of the BDSM variety.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • In 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles, King Rehoboam, by the bad advice given to him by the men who grew up with him, tells the other tribes of Israel that "my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions," referring to a more painful form of physical punishment (most likely chains) that made whips seem lighter by comparison.
    • In the Gospels, Jesus was given 39 stripes on His back by the Romans before being crucified.
  • Classical Mythology: In some versions of the story of Eros and Psyche, Aphrodite had Psyche whipped.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In the fake movie trailer for Buggery On The High Seas from Cheech & Chong's "Pedro And Man At The Drive-In" sketch from the Los Cochinos album, one of the pirates gets flogged for sassing the ship's captain, which starts off sounding painful but then his reaction turns to ecstatic joy with each whip lash he receives.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: Clerics of Loviatar, the goddess of pain and torture, are directed to self-flagellate while praying for spells.

  • The Takarazuka Revue version of 1789 has Ronan being whipped during his interrogation and incarceration in the Bastille.
  • In Billy Budd, a flogging scene happens offstage. Then the victim is brought onstage. And sings a duet with his friend.
  • Attempting to appease the bloodthirsty mob, Pilate has Jesus flogged 39 times - with each stroke being counted in song - in Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • Subverted in The King and I. The King prepares to whip Tuptim for running away but decides he just can't do it with Anna watching.
  • In a scene that is not often included in shows of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Judge Turpin, who is developing a serious lust for Johanna, his teenage ward, takes the whip to himself during the course of the song "Johanna (Mea Culpa)" in an effort to drive off the "devil." The whipping instead drives him to climax, and he decides he's going to marry her, much to Johanna's horror.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Attorney, Franziska has a habit of whipping Gumshoe to punish him for his (frequent) incompetence. Of course, she also has a habit of whipping foolish fools for spouting foolishly foolish nonsense - meaning, of course, everyone in this game. She whips Phoenix into unconsciousness when she loses her first trial.
  • Bungo to Alchemist: Ozaki Kōyō is a whip fighter who often refers to fighting enemies as "disciplining" them.
  • In Criminal Case: The Conspiracy, Professor Kevin Charles is murdered by being tied up and flagged to death by all five members of junior Ad Astra, though according to Martine, the shock actually managed to kill him before the final blow.
  • The Flagellant DLC class from the Darkest Dungeon expansion The Crimson Court uses flagellation (hence the name) as a source of his abilities and power, which mostly come in the form of high bleed damage and healing skills. He even uses it to relieve stress and status effects when camping, eschewing the traditional forms of comfort.
    • This is also the best form of stress relief in the church, and it's pretty severe to the point you wonder how it doesn't affect their performance. Anyone who undergoes it mentions shedding plenty of blood, which also implies plenty of painful scars. One negative side effect of a session in the Penance Chamber is a temporary reduction in bleeding resistance.
  • The Templar Order from Diablo III does this to convicted criminals that they want to make into new Templars after first beating them for three days. The purpose of this, according to your follower Kormac, who went through the process himself, is to strip away everything that brought the initiate tainted joy, to cleanse and purify them of sin. Needless to say, your Player Character doesn't see things that way. As it turns out, the Order doesn't really give a damn about an initiate's actual guilt or innocence, and the Order's Inquisitors will gladly pile false sins upon an innocent if they deem him to be a useful asset to the Order, which is exactly what happened to both Kormac and his former comrade Jondar.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, the supports between Azura and Arthur reveal that the latter got whipped when young, after Taking the Heat for the first.
  • The opening of the second Neverwinter Nights 2 Expansion Pack Storm of Zehir has the Player Party take ship to Samarach on a sailing ship. Captain Lastri Kassireh can be overheard threatening to unleash her first mate with the cat o' nine tails if the crew doesn't have the ship ready for an oncoming tropical storm.
  • Harrow from Warframe uses his signature thurible to whip himself in his ability animations, particularly when using his "Penance" ability, which sacrifices all of his current shields to provide a life steal for his allies alongside a passive fire rate and reload speed bonus.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Jamie has scars on his back resulting from intense whipping, a product of his Abusive Parents which disturb Graham when he first notices. He compares them to the marks that slaves in slave films bear.
  • Whateley Universe: From Eat, Drink, and be Merry, it's revealed that Chad Wilson was whipped by his parents for swearing:
    “F-u-“ I bit down on my tongue. Must not let the parents hear that word, ever. I still remember the rose thorn-covered switch, the scabs and the odd looks from my gym teacher.

    Web Video 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd: The video on Dark Castle ends with the Nerd putting the Genesis and cd-I versions of the game in chains and brutally flogging them. He actually hits the cartridge so hard it breaks one of the chains.
  • In the Dragonball Z Abridged version of Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan, the Shamoshans are whipped, but instead of being whipped as punishment, they're actually masochists.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Magic Duel", Trixie forces Snips and Snails to pull her chariot (which doesn't have wheels) and whips them if they try to stop.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Krabby Kronicle", SpongeBob gets revenge on Mr. Krabs working him to death on the newspaper by publishing a report of what's been going on, the headline picture being Krabs flogging him.
    • Parodied in "Sailor Mouth", where SpongeBob fearfully speculates that Mr. Krabs will give him and Patrick forty lashes for saying Bad Word #11. Patrick then imagines himself with forty eye-lashes.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has these combined with electricity in the 'Slaves of the Republic' three-episode arc, adapted from the comic of the same name. It takes about five electro whips to subdue Anakin when he is captured, and also at one point, he has to figure out how to get out of being asked to whip a captive Obi-Wan with one to show his loyalty while disguised as a slaver himself. They were also frequently employed by the overseers in the mines Obi-Wan and Rex were sent to.
  • Implied in Steven Universe with Holly Blue Agate who wields an electrified whip and according to Yellow Diamond's Villain Song, an agates role in the gem hierarchy is to terrify lower class gems into submission.

    Real Life 
  • The ancient Spartans would flog young men as a test of their masculinity.
  • The ancient Romans used a variant known as "scourging", using a whip that had bits of metal or bone at the tips. This punishment was reserved for non-citizens.
    • Both normal flogging and scourging were used in the martyrdom of Christians. For example, after Saint Sebastian was badass enough to survive being turned into a Human Pincushion, some versions of his myth say that he was flogged to death (others said he was beheaded); Saint Philomena's myths say that the first torture she was subjected to was scourging, and then angels healed her that same night; and Saint Bibiana was allegedly flogged to death (though some versions say she was scourged, then given a mercy kill via a stab to the chest.)
  • British law actually held a distinction between whipping (to be beaten with a whip) and flogging (to be beaten with a cat-o-nine-tails). Both were abolished in Britain in 1948.
    • This continued in the Isle of Man until the late 1990s as "birching", in which the offender was secured to a frame and whipped with a birch rod. The practice was discontinued by external pressure - the Isle of Man, while independent of Britain and enjoying local autonomy, is still a member of the Council of Europe and had to abide by rulings of the European Court of Human Rights forbidding corporal punishment. Many disgruntled Islanders wanted to secede from Europe in protest at this.
    • It is true that the level of minor crimes, for which birching was imposed as punishment, has since shot up on the Island, to pretty much the same level as mainland Britain. Arguably it was a potent deterrent.
  • "Running the Gauntlet", where the punished has to walk between two rows of his fellows as they strike him with knotted lengths of rope. To make sure the punished keeps moving, there is a man behind him sticking a sword into his back, and, to prevent him from going too quickly, there is another in front of him sticking a sword into his belly.
  • Ancient Hebrew law limited flogging to forty strokes. It became common practice to only ever administer thirty-nine, so as to avoid any possibility of breaking this law due to a miscount.
    • Even more limiting, the courts would have a physician examine the recipient to estimate how many strokes he could survive - often meaning they weren't even prescribed the full 39. And he would be reexamined after every three strokes to make sure he could survive the next three. Accidentally killing someone who didn't deserve it was Serious Business.
    • Even the Romans would limit lashings to 39, as 40 was known to kill some men.
    • This law was copied in New England as well. During the Seven Years' War colonial troops were shocked that the British went beyond this limit. This caused a Culture Clash.
      • Though in the Navy with which this trope is usually identified such punishments were considered a sign of a bad commander. Even the harshest of captains would usually limit the punishment by having the ship's doctor step in as early as possible. Ludicrously harsh floggings were almost always carried out by the criminal justice system or the Army.
      • The traditional naval cat o'nine tails was not as harsh as it may appear, being made out of rope. This inflicted painful superficial wounds, but rarely cut into the flesh; the sailor could recover quickly and do hard labor on the vessel. Hard leather lashes used on slaves, serfs, or convicts were designed for maximum damage, which crippled and often killed the victim.
  • Religious self-flagellation is not just a Christian custom.
    • A few Shi'a Muslims whip themselves as part of the annual period of mourning for the first ten days of the Muslim year, commemorating the martyrdom of their Third Imam, Husayn ibn Ali, at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq (marked by the "festival" of Ashura). A few men, not believing that self-flagellation is badass enough to commemorate Husayn, cut their foreheads with swords.
  • Flogging also remains a viable legal punishment in some Muslim countries, mostly those that have expressly incorporated some more conservative versions of Islamic law into their legal systems.
    • In 2011, a 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl died, possibly lashed to death, when a self-appointed Sharia court sentenced her to 80 lashes for "having an affair"note  with a married cousin. Bangladesh being a reasonably civilized Muslim country (the practice of flogging as punishment had been banned in no uncertain terms the previous year, following national consensus) those responsible—including the cleric who issued the ruling—were promptly arrested and tried for murder.
    • Back in 2001, the caning of a 17-year-old girl from Northern Nigeria by the name of Bariya Ibrahim Magazu for engaging in non-marital sex (involving very Questionable Consent on her part) sparked international outrage which appeared in numerous email inboxes as a petition on her behalf.
  • Caning continues to be used as a legal form of punishment in Singapore, with judges often handing out a number of strokes in addition to a man's jail sentence (women aren't caned, but some juveniles are) should they deem it necessary. Canings are delivered to bare buttocks with a half-inch thick rattan rod that is soaked in water to avoid splinters. Guards who administer canings are specially selected for their physical strength and they are trained to strike the recipients' buttocks in a way that will inflict as much pain as possible substitutes are always on standby because every stroke is legally required to be delivered at full strength. Doctors will monitor the recipients because some will try and fake health problems to avoid canings. A single stroke is more than enough to break the skin and draw blood and permanent scarring is almost inevitable. The pain is so severe that recipients can't walk or sit properly and have to sleep on their stomachs for months. And, if that wasn't enough, many men experience problems with walking and bowel movements for years afterwards, if not permanently.
  • One intellectual visiting an eighteenth-century army camp saw an elderly soldier beaten half to death for being careless in the presence of a teenage officer. His host told him, "I assure you, sir, that it is necessary." Whereupon the guest said, "I cannot swear to that. But I do know that it is not necessary that I should watch it."
  • Imperial Russia had the knout. Technically this is just "whip" in Russian, but the brutality of serf flogging with this whip lends the term infamy. Particularly notable was the "great knout," which was an especially large, heavy, hard whip designed to inflict maximum damage. Where most floggings had to get into triple-digit strokes to threaten the victim's life, the great knout was known to kill with as few as twenty strokes - allegedly by breaking the spine.
    • Even after the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, the punishment continued until the early 20th century. By that time it was being used against workers and miners in cities too, particularly those who were involved in the civil unrest that evolved into the Revolutions of 1917. On the other hand, there were relatively few punishments (a handful of cases per year) and it may have decreased in severity.
    • And it continues to this day. In 2014, members of the activist group Pussy Riot found themselves getting flogged by Cossack soldiers when they attempted to protest at the Sochi Olympics.
  • Alice Orlowski, an SS official known for lashing female inmates across their eyes, personally.
    • Similarly, her fellow SS official Hermine Braunsteiner was said to carry a horsewhip and have used it to kill at least two female inmates.
  • The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, c. 1780 BCE, mandates flogging for some crimes.
  • Historically, more savvy slave traders attempted to limit the frequency and severity of whippings. Scars from frequent whippings would convince buyers the slave must be rebellious or a poor worker; either way, not worth the money spent.
    • Although, as mentioned above, if flogging one person could keep the hundred people watching in line, that was just the cost of doing business.
    • Also, evidence from the time and in places where slavery is practiced today demonstrates that, having convinced themselves that their slaves are dangerous, stupid, and/or treacherous animals, owners are willing to brutalize them without considering something so noble as cost.
  • There are a small number who are actually seriously contemplating bringing this back into the American justice system as an alternative to imprisonment for lesser, non-felonious, offenses. Of course, the recipient would have to volunteer for it. Their reason? It's considered by some to be less of a Cruel And Unusual Punishment as it takes care of the punishment quickly and promptly and doesn't subject the recipient to the dehumanizing factor of over-crowded prison life (and save precious taxpayer's dollars!) and would allow them to get on with their lives, while still being a strong deterrent. Considering that convicted felons are essentially doomed to be unemployable or make rock-bottom wages for the rest of their lives, and the downturn the economy has been taking recently... It really says something about how brutal America's treatment of ex-cons is that some of them would rather be flogged.
    • Delaware kept flogging on the books well into the sixties, but only as a punishment for domestic abuse. The idea was that while domestic abuse should be punished, separating a woman from her breadwinner through incarceration in a time of one-income households would effectively be punishing a victim for stepping forward.
  • A strange subversion comes from the heyday of the British Empire. Although the UK military was famous for handing out floggings eagerly, it was strictly confined to British troops. This is remarkable considering the racial inequalities and tensions throughout the imperial period; in Indian service, British infantrymen could be subjected to hundreds of lashes while flogging the native sepoys was strictly forbidden.
  • A rather nasty example from colonial-era Australia: The Macquarie Harbour Cat. Not only was it made of leather, but the nine strips had their ends split into three, for twenty-seven tips to hit the victim's back. Worse still, those tips were coated in lead to add weight and make them hit even harder. As the name suggests, it was used in Macquarie Harbour in Tasmania. Macquarie Harbour was a site to which particularly troublesome convicts got reassigned to. Repeat offenders, particularly escape attempts, were the main victims of this monster.


Trip's Flogging

The scene that earned Denzel Washington his first Academy Award.

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Main / ATasteOfTheLash

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