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dim. Flagellum (μάστιξ). A “cat” or scourge, made with a great number of knotted and twisted tails, like the numerous feelers of the polypus, which are consequently designated by the same name (Ovid, Met. iv. 367). It was chiefly employed for the punishment of slaves (Juv. vi. 478; Hor. Sat. i. 2, 41), but also as a driving whip, in threshing grain, for self-punishment by the priests of Cybelé, and in the contests of gladiators, as in the illustration below. It is characterized


by the epithet horribile, in some cases even produced death, and the nature of the wound caused by it is always specified by words which are descriptive of cutting, such as caedere, secare, scindere, etc. The flagrum was frequently knotted with bones or heavy bits of bronze (ἀστραγαλωτή), or even furnished with hooks, in which case it was called scorpio. A whip with a single lash was known as scutica. A scourged slave was styled flagrio. During the Saturnalia (q.v.) the scourge was put away under the seal of the master. See Servus.

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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.367
    • Horace, Satires, 1.2
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