A scourge (from Italian "scoriada", from Latin "excoriare" = "to flay" and "corium" = "skin") is a whip or lash, especially a multi-thong type used to inflict severe corporal punishment or self-mortification on the back. It is also an air unit in the Blizzard game Starcraft. A "flock of Scourge" can be deadly to other air units in the game.


The typical scourge (Latin: "flagrum"; English: "flagellum") has several thongs fastened to a handle; c.f. Scottish tawse (usually two or three leather thongs without a separate handle); cat o' nine tails: naval thick-rope knotted-end scourge, the army and civil prison versions usually are leather.

The scourge, or flail, and the crook, are the two symbols of power and domination depicted in the hands of Osiris in Egyptian monuments; they are the unchanging form of the instrument throughout the ages; though, the flail depicted in Egyptian mythology was an agricultural instrument used to thresh wheat, and not for corporal punishment.

The priests of Cybele scourged themselves and others, and such stripes were considered sacred. From a Biblical quotation, "scorpio" 'scorpion' is Latin for a Roman "flagrum". Hard material was affixed to multiple thongs to give a flesh-tearing 'bite' ["1 Kings 12:11: ...My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions"] . The name testifies to the pain caused by the arachnid. To its generous Roman application testifies the existence of the Latin words "Flagrifer" 'carrying a whip' and "Flagritriba" 'often-lashed slave'.

Scourging played a famous role as the punishment inflicted in the Flagellation of Christ during the Passion on Jesus Christ before crucifixion.

Scourging was the first step in the traditional Roman punishment for parricide.

Scourging was soon adopted as a sanction in the monastic discipline of the fifth and following centuries. Early in the fifth century it is mentioned by Palladius of Galatia in the "Historia Lausiaca", [c. vi] and Socrates Scholasticus [Hist. Eccl., IV, xxiii] tells us that, instead of being excommunicated, offending young monks were scourged. (See the sixth-century rules of St. Cæsarius of Arles for nuns, ["Patrologia Latina", LXVII, 1111] and of St. Aurelian of Arles. [ibid., LXVIII, 392, 401-02] ) Thenceforth scourging is frequently mentioned in monastic rules and councils as a preservative of discipline. [Hefele, "Concilieng.", II, 594, 656] Its use as a punishment was general in the seventh century in all monasteries of the severe Columban rule. [St. Columbanus, in "Regula Cœnobialis", c. x, in "Patrologia Latina", LXXX, 215 sqq.; for later centuries of the early Middle Ages see Louis Thomassin, "Vetus ac nova ecclesiae disciplina", II (3), 107; Du Cange, "Glossar. med. et infim. latinit.", s. v. "Disciplina"; Gretser, "De spontaneâ disciplinarum seu flagellorum cruce libri tres" (Ingolstadt, 1603); Franz Quirin von Kober, "Die körperliche Züchtigung als kirchliches Strafmittel gegen Cleriker und Mönche" in Tüb. "Quartalschrift" (1875).]
Canon law (Decree of Gratian, Decretals of Gregory IX) recognized it as a punishment for ecclesiastics; even as late as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it appears in ecclesiastical legislation as a punishment for blasphemy, concubinage and simony. Though doubtless at an early date a private means of penance and mortification, such use is publicly exemplified in the tenth and eleventh centuries by the lives of St. Dominic Loricatus ["Patrologia Latina", CXLIV, 1017; the surname means 'strapped'] and St. Peter Damian (died 1072). The latter wrote a special treatise in praise of self-flagellation; though blamed by some contemporaries for excess of zeal, his example and the high esteem in which he was held did much to popularize the voluntary use of the scourge or "discipline" as a means of mortification and penance. Thenceforth it is met with in most medieval religious orders and associations. The practice was, of course, capable of abuse, and so arose in the thirteenth century the fanatical sect of the Flagellants, though in the same period we meet with the private use of the "discipline" by such saintly persons as King Louis IX of France and Elisabeth of Hungary.

Metaphoric use

Semi-literal usages such as "the scourge of God" for Attila the Hun (i.e. "God's whip to punish the nations with") led to metaphoric uses to mean a severe affliction, e.g. "the scourge of drug abuse". As a result, some people forget its literal meaning and seem to imagine a connection with "scour" -to clean something by scrubbing it vigorously.

ources and references

*1911 Encyclopædia Britannica"
*Catholic Encyclopaedia
*H. H. Mallinckrodt, "Latijn-Nederlands woordenboek" (Latin-Dutch dictionary)


ee also

* Knout

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Scourge — Scourge, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Scourged}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Scourging}.] [From {Scourge}, n.: cf. OF. escorgier.] 1. To whip severely; to lash. [1913 Webster] Is it lawful for you to scourge a . . . Roman? Acts xxii. 25. [1913 Webster] 2. To punish …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Scourge — Datos generales Origen Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brazil Información artística Género(s) Death metal Technical death …   Wikipedia Español

  • Scourge — Scourge, n. [F. escourg[ e]e, fr. L. excoriata (sc. scutica) a stripped off (lash or whip), fr. excoriare to strip, to skin. See {Excoriate}.] 1. A lash; a strap or cord; especially, a lash used to inflict pain or punishment; an instrument of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • scourge — (n.) early 13c., from Anglo Fr. escorge, back formation from O.Fr. escorgier to whip, from V.L. *excorrigiare, from L. ex out, off + corrigia thong, shoelace, in this case whip, probably from a Gaulish word related to O.Ir. cuimrech fetter. The… …   Etymology dictionary

  • scourge — [n] plague, torment affliction, bane, correction, curse, infliction, misfortune, penalty, pest, pestilence, punishment, terror, visitation; concepts 674,675 Ant. advantage, benefit, blessing, boon, delight, happiness scourge [v] beat, punish,… …   New thesaurus

  • scourge — ► NOUN 1) historical a whip used as an instrument of punishment. 2) a person or thing causing great trouble or suffering. ► VERB 1) historical whip with a scourge. 2) cause great suffering to. ORIGIN Old French escorge, from Latin ex thoroughly + …   English terms dictionary

  • scourge — [skʉrj] n. [ME < OFr escorgie < L ex, off, from + corrigia, a strap, whip] 1. a whip or other instrument for flogging 2. any means of inflicting severe punishment, suffering, or vengeance 3. any cause of serious trouble or affliction [the… …   English World dictionary

  • scourge — index catastrophe, disaster, discipline (punishment), discipline (punish), disease, harm (noun) …   Law dictionary

  • scourge — I UK [skɜː(r)dʒ] / US [skɜrdʒ] noun [countable] Word forms scourge : singular scourge plural scourges formal 1) something that causes a lot of trouble or harm the effort to keep the scourge of drugs off our streets 2) someone in a position of… …   English dictionary

  • Scourge — Apparently recorded as Scorg, Scourge, and the diminutive Scourgie, this is a rare surname. It is English or at least is recorded in England since at least Elizabethan times (1558 1603), but is probably of Olde Norse Viking or Olde French origins …   Surnames reference

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