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Roman Mistresses and Punishments of their Female Slaves

I’ve recently stumbled upon a book, Flagellation & The Flagellants: A History of the Rod. This book is intensive historically – but not exactly the most interest-capturing read, as it hits some serious dry spells and undermines its potential with tedious, repetitive, almost numerical facts.  Nonetheless, it is a must-have for those interested in the antiquity of corporal punishment. 

Because this book is rather dense, at a whopping 500+ pages, I will not review it in its entirety.  Rather, I will periodically comment on specific sections that capture my attention and blog about it.  Hopefully, it will capture yours, too. I doubt I’m the only person whose curiosity about spanking has led them to seek out the actual historical roots of the practice, which are not very easily discoverable.

Bear in mind, my writings won’t necessarily correspond to the order of the book but will rather be adapted to my particular mood and what peaks my interest in the moment I feel like writing.  Also note that this book is an account of corporal punishment in general and will include flogging and whipping – which I will address.  If this isn’t your cup of tea, you may – naturally – go roam around the blog and have fun elsewhere.  There is plenty of spanking writings and visuals to keep you entertained within the scope of your own interest.

Today I feel like writing about the sadism of women in their administering of corporal punishments.  The author seems to presume that women were much more vicious and serious about exacting what they appeared to be “justice,” despite what is obviously not just at all.


 In this case I am referring to Roman women who had slaves to attend to their every need.  The Mistresses of the estates would go so far as to have their slaves dressed in such a matter that were ready to be whipped immediately should they need punishing without having to bother about such things as wasting time while they properly undressed for their beatings.  I truly believe only a woman is capable of such an idea.  They also had an array of implements hanging from hooks in their vanity rooms eagerly available to assault a wrongdoer for any minor displeasure.

“The fair termagant’s at last carried these cruelties to such a pitch, that in the beginning of the empire it was found necessary to restrain their license.” (37)

It seems that the women in power used it excessively to dish out undue punishment for even the slightest offense.  Part of the maids’ purposes seemed to be because they functioned as bodies present for abuse if for no other reason than this cruelty was only minimally curtailed. The worst punishment for a Mistress who maimed her female slaves with her brutality was a 5 year period of banishment.  Other than that, the sanctions for ruthlessness were little to none.

A man of the times had every excuse to be a violent brute.  It was expected as part of his gender duty.  He was trained from infancy to be a warrior and expressions of violence were justified and encouraged.  By the end of the day they were probably so worn out by the task of being a man that they had no energy to be vindictive and venomous.  Those particular tasks were reserved for the Matrons of the estate who flew off the handle if a meal was over-seasoned or if they dropped a glass.  The women used this excuse to beat their maid-servants, sometimes within inches of their lives, and not so rarely – to actual death.  The real source of their anger was psychological, for the most part – especially when they had to bear the burden of their men being away, having affairs, or being slighted by their husbands.  The poor maid-servants bore the brunt of their anger as evidenced by the scars on their backs, the blood on their clothes and the broken straps that lay at their feet.  Eventually it was officially ordained as law that any Mistress who abused her slave to the point of death would be suspended from the community for a certain period of time.

“If a Mistress , in a fit of anger and madness shall lash her female slave, or cause her to be lashed, in such a manner that she expires before the third day, by reason of the torture she has undergone inasmuch as it is doubtful whether It has designedly happened, or by chance; the mistress shall be excommunicated for seven years; though, if she shall fall into sickness she may receive the communion.” (38)

I was initially surprised when reading this, but shortly thereafter (as much as a feminist that I am) it did make immediate sense to me that women were the ones who were unduly cruel: a point that has hit home with me due to past experiences in the BDSM realm.  The lengths they went to in order to inflict pain on another human being for not even a remotely justifiable reason is rather disturbing – but definitely not impossible to believe.  Women as sadists and sexual criminals are other books I will be addressing in the future.

Hope you enjoyed this tidbit.

^i^ Angel ^i^

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