14. The Spartans Loved Whips

The ancient Greek city-state of Sparta was quite kinky, even by today’s standards. Their army engaged in widespread gay practices with military leaders also encouraging this behavior in the belief that strong erotic bonds between soldiers would make for a more exceptional fighting force. Spartan women held a level of freedom and high rank that was unheard of in other cultures at the time. Polyamory was common and likely even encouraged for Spartan women, especially those who had born strong children in the past.

In addition to their surprisingly progressive views of intimacy, the Spartans also were rather fond of whipping. Plutarch wrote about Spartan whipping competitions, saying,

“The boys in Sparta were lashed with whips during the entire day at the altar of Artemis Orthia, frequently to the point of death, and they bravely endured this, cheerful and proud, vying with one another for the supremacy as to which one of them could endure being beaten for the longer time and the greater number of blows. And the one who was victorious was held in especial repute.”

It is not clear if these whipping competitions were erotic for those involved. However, given the institutional pederasty within the agoge school of training for male Spartan youths, it seems entirely plausible that there may have been an erotic component to the contests.