Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

A Flaming Whip for Lechery

NOTE: This book is a huge catalogue of lust, mostly heterosexual. The excerpts below are given as an indication of eighteenth-century people’s knowledge about homosexuality derived from Biblical and Classical texts, and to illustrate the extent of religious homophobia at the start of the century. It also shows how much homosexuality was linked to general sexual "perversion" and "unnatural" lechery. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are inextricably linked with the decadent lusts of the Roman Emperors.

The Design of the following Essay is not to minister Fuel to those Impure Flames which have consum’d so many particular Persons, Families, and Nations, but is intended as a Caveat and Warning to all those who are guilty of that reigning Sin of Uncleanness, to repent and reform, lest their Practices being as great or greater Judgments upon themselves, and the Nations wherein they live, as those they will find here related. . . .

The next dreadful Instance of God’s hatred and indignation at Whoredom and Uncleanness, is his raining of Fire and Brimstone upon Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, &c. the cry of their lewdness being such, that it seemed to drown the noise of all other Sins at that time. This is the first Instance we meet with of Lusts arrived to such a prodigious height, as to seek after Unnatural Objects, and it would seem their Incontinence was so fierce, that they furiously sought after every opportunity, to gratifie their brutish desires, especially upon Strangers; for they had so mutually polluted one another, that it’s probable their villainous pleasures that way, had lost much of their relish: [p. 13] Nor is it unlikely that the Comely and Beautiful aspect of those Angels added fewel to their flames, and it deserves particular observation, that the whole City both old and young was infected with this lustful Contagion, in which they were so hardened, that neither Lot’s unadvised proposal of his own Daughters (to them) who were more natural and fit Objects for their Lust; nor the remarkable Judgement of God upon them in striking them with blindness were able to divert them from their devilish purpose, of offering that unnatural abuse to those Messengers of God, who at last after having set Lot and his Famly out of danger, became the executioners of Divine Justice upon those Monsters of Impurity, and punisht their lustful flames with storms of Fire and Brimstone, which were only some precursory drops to those showers of everlasting fire, which makes the smoak of their torments to ascend for ever and ever.

      Neither ought it to pass without observation, that God did not only punish themselves, but would have their Country which they had polluted to remain a Monument of their abominable Impurity, and his just Judgment, so long as the world stands: nor would Divine Justice suffer Lot’s Wife to pass unpunish’d for looking back upon the place which she left with a reluctancy, and could have wisht [p. 14] to have been spared, but turn’d her immediately into a Pillar of Salt for her disobedience and inordinate affection to her Relations and Estate, which God had justly determin’d to destroy, and not for having withheld Salt from the Angels her Guests the night before, as the Jews have fabulously delivered. – We shall conclude this passage with these few Reflections, viz. That the places being converted into a dead Sea, near which no Creature can live, and the Apples and Grapes that grow upon the banks of it, which are grateful to the Eye, but when touch[ed] moulder into dust, and send forth stinking sulphureous Exhalations, are fit Emblems to represent, not only the vanity, but the deadly effectsof those hurtful and foolish Lusts, the satisfaction of which is so eagerly pursued by Corrupt Nature.

      The next Instance we meet with, is that of Lot’s Incest with his own Daughters, or rather their Incest with him. This passage has many strange Circumstances that deserve our observation. It is not improbable that the lewd Conversation of the Sodomites had before-hand infected the minds of those Damsels, for it’s a hard matter to touch pitch and not to be defiled; Divines are of different opinions concerning those Women, some believing that they had actually been married, and others, that they were only betrothed, but which soever of ’em [p. 15] it was, it’s certain they had lost their Males; and perhaps their Fathers offer to prostitute them to save his Guests, and their having been ear witnesses at least to Those unnatural villanies practis’d by the Sodomites, might possess them with extenuating thoughts of the wickedness they had in design: Yet it appears by their abominable Intrigue to Intoxicate their Father, that they durst not propound any such thing to him when he was Sober, their wickedness appears to be so much the greater, that they had but just escap’d from that storm of divine Wrath which over took the Sodomites for their Vile Lusts; . . . [p. 16] . . .

Our next Instance is in Judah, who having left his Brethren and his Father’s House, and by Consequence the then Church, and Lodging with an Adulamite, fell in Love with a Canaanitish Woman, and Married her (he not then exceeding 14 Years of Age himself as Chronologers think) not only without his Father’s Consent, but against it, according to the Example of Esau. – How he was punish’d for this fault the following History acquaints us, viz. That having obliged his Son Er to an early and precipitant Marriage like his own, who being a Wicked Man, and as the Hebrews think, guilty of Sodomy, or as others of spilling his Seed upon the ground as his Brother Onan did, the Lord destroyed him. Nor was the Judah any happier in his Son Onan abovementioned, who being given to his Brothers Widow for a Husband to raise up Seed to his Brother, did maliciously spill it on the ground, that his Brother’s Memory might not be continued; Whereas to die Childless had not only a Tendency to the decay, and ruin of the Family, but was also look’d upon as Reproachful . . . [p. 27]

Nay, so great was the care of the Divine Law-giver to have his slect People strictly Chaste and Continent, that he [p. 35] orders them to provide against all occasions of Lasciviousness, or Incontinence in their very Apparel, and particularly in the 22. of Deut. and 12. he commands them to make Fringes upon the four Corners of their Garments, which some Commentators understand to be Points or Laces to fasten them so that their Nakedness might not be discovered on any occasion, Breeches not being then in use. In that same Chapter Men are forbid to wear Womens Apparel, or Women Mens, lest thereby there should be an opportunity given to promiscuous Lusts. By this, Effeminate Fops and Masculine Virago’s are also rebuk’d: Nay, Common Reason teaches us to despise and abhor such Unnatural Monsters. A Poor Heathen Poet could say,

            Quem praestare potest mulier galeat a pudorem
            Quae fugit á [but reverse accent] sexu.

            What Modesty can we expect to see
            In Women Armed like Sodiers Cap-a pee.
[p. 36]

. . . and because our Nature is so deprav’d, that when Lust has the Reins laid on its Neck, it puts Mankind upon the search of Unnatural Methods to satisfy it, the Divine Goodness consults our Welfare so much as to make those things plainly appear to be sinful to us by his prohibition, which Nature it self at first Glance would have taught us to be so, if we did but make use of Common Reason: And therefore the approaching to a Woman in her Uncleanness; and Bestiality, or Unnatural Comixtion with Creatures of another kind, Crimes which ought to have been Buried in perpetual Oblivion, whose very Names stike Nature with fear and horrour, are expres[s]ly forbid, and the very Brutes as well as the Man or Woman were ordered to be cut off for having suffered such a transgression of the Law of Nature; and that the People might take the more care to observe both those positive and Negative precepts, he tells them that for such Abominations the Canaanites were to be driven out before them and cut off. [p. 37]

. . .

Another of the Crimes forbidden to the Israelites, and which the Canaanites, and those Eastern People were guilty of, was, causing their Seed to pass through the fire to Moloch, by which some understand that in a most filthy manner they consecrated their Sperm or Seed to their Idol Priapus, as Baal’s Priest offered their Blood to their Idol, I. Kings 18 and as the Manichees and Gnosticks mixed the Eucharist with humane Seede; tho’ the Current of Interpreters carry it for making their Children pass through betwixt two fires, and sometimes offering them as a burnt-Sacrifice in Honour of their Idol.

      They are also charged with Sodomy, or the Unnatural Lust of Men towards Men, to which they were given up by the Just Judgment of God as a due punishment for [p. 51] their Idolatry. And at the dissolution of the Monasteries here in England, our Anti-Christian Idolaters were found to have polluted themselves in this manner; which Crime as it brought Hell upon the Sodomites before their time, (that is, brought Fire and Brimstone upon them before they went off the Earth), so this horrid Uncleanness of the Monks procur’d the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. before their Religion was dischargted out of the Nation.

      The Egyptians and Canaanites are also charged with Bestiality, their Men and Women having committed Confusion with Beasts . . . [p. 52]

      In fine the Land of Canaan being polluted by those abominations, Vomited out her Inhabitants, the Posterity of Cham, who did so impudently behold and revile his Fathers Nakedness, and is thought to have revived the Vitious manners of the old World in his Posterity, the Sodomites and Canaanites, and thus we have an account of two more Great Nations destroyed by their Uncleanness, viz. the Egyptians and Cananites, whose Practices the Israelites were Commanded to avoid, as they would not run the hazard of the same or greater Judgments. [p. 53] . . .

Curtius in his 6th. Book gives us an Account how Alexander became hatefull to the Graver sort of his Captains and Generals by his degenerating into the Vices of the Persians, as, Immoderate drinking, and spending his time in Plays, and amongst Herds of Strumpets, which occasioned frequent Conspiracies against him, Mutinies amongst his Souldiers; and other Commotions. He became likewise guilty of Sodomy with Bagoas, Dariuis’s Eunuch, affected the Persian Habit and Customs, and entertained 360 Conclubines as Dariuis had done before him, which occasioned the Macedonians to grumble, and say, That he was more like to those that he had Conquer’d than a Conqueror, so that he was forc’d to prevent their sedition to [p. 152] engage them in a fresh War, after he had for thirteen days satiated his Lust with Thalestris Queen of the Amazons at her own desire. While he was preparing for his Expedition against Bessus, Philotas and others of his Great Officers conspired against his Life, but Nicomachus a Catamite having discovered it by means of Dimachus, who was his Companion in that Unnatural Amour revealed it so as ’twas prevented, but it cost his Villlainous Paramour Dimachus and others their Lives; such was the fatal Consequence of Dimachus’s unnatural Lust to himself and others. [p. 153] . . .

      We come now to the winding up of the Story of Alexander the Great, who did so far degenerate into the Manners and Vices of those People he had Conquer’d, that he gave Crowns to some and took away Lives from others at the will and pleasure of his Whores, and particularly of Bagoas the Eunuch, who was his Catamite. Curtius gives us an Instance of this in his 10th. Book, where he Relates how Orsines a Great Persian Prince of Cyrus’s off-spring, was falsely Accused and Executed, because he despis’d that Villainous Eunuch, and said that it was not Whores and Catamites that he had any regard for, but only to the King’s Friends, and when this Revengefull Catamite had got Alexander to Condemn this great Man, who had at all times been very Friendly and Bountifull to the King and his Retinue, he could not forbear to assist at the Execution himself, upon which Orsines told his Satyrically, That he had heard that Women had sometimes Govern’d Asia, but it was never Govern’d by a Guelding before. Thus Alexander being Govern’d by those Vile Persons, did upon their Accusation cut off his best Friends, and became so hateful to his own Greeks, that they talk’d divers times of Revolting, and at last Poyson’d him in Babylon amidst his Feats and Revels, which was very Remarkable [p. 156] that he should be Poyson’d there where he had suffered himself and his Army to be first Poysoned by the Vicious Manners of the Persians; and thus by his Luxury and Uncleanness he occasioned the Division of that vast Empire, which he had rais’d; . . . so true is it which the Wiseman tells us in the Proverbs, That many strong men have been slain and cast down by strange Women; nay, we may add that Empires and Monarchies have been over-turned by Uncleanness. [p. 157] . . .

      In his 22d. book, [Justin] gives us an Instance of Agathocles another Tyrant of Sicily, Son to a Potter, who during his youth was a Catamite, and as soon as he was of Age became a Common Stallion and a Highwayman . . . [p. 159] . . .

      In his 30th Book, we have the Instance of Ptolemy King of Egypt, who having murdered his own Wife Eurydice, that was also his Sister, he became so enamour’d on Agothocla the Strumpet, that he minded nothing but Revelling and Dancing; and thus says Justin, the King became not only a Spectator, but a Master of Villany, and committing Sodomy also with Agathocles a handsome fellow, and Brother to the Strumpeet above-mentioned, they and their Mother Evanthe govern’d the King and Kingdom, and disposed of all offices. . . . [p. 162]

      In the 28th Chapter of that same Book, [Livy] gives us a Relation of the Ignominy and shame that L. Papirius an Usurer brought upon himself by his unnatural Lust, and of the benefit which accrewed to the people by a Villanous Outrage that he committed upon the Body of C. Publius, a Comely Youth, the occasion of which was thus. There was a barbarous Custom then in use amongst the Romans, called Nexus, being a kind of obligation whereby persons that ow’d Money were bound to their Creditors, to be their Slaves, and to work wholly for them till their Debts were paid. By virtue of which Custom C. Publius was forc’d to bind himself ro a Debt of his Father’s to Papirius: Who being a lustful Wretch, endeavoured first to debauch the Youth by filthy Speeches and flatteries, but finding him proof agianst those te[mp]tations, he endeavoured to terrifie him with threats, and ever and anon put him in mind of his Fortune, viz. that he was a Slave, but the Honest Youth not being to be prevailed upon this way neither, the Savage Usurer converting his Lust into Rage, caus’d the [p. 173] poor youth to be strip’d naked and cruelly whip’d, by which his body was desperately torn and mangled, the oppressed youth being not able to endure that Disgrace and Torment, ran out into the Street in that condition, and cried out upon the Usurer for his Cruelty and Lust. This occasioned a Great Concourse of people, who being mov’d with Compassin towards the young-man, and with abhorrence at the Indignity of the thing, as that which might perhaps befall themselves or their Children, they crowded into the Forum, and from thence went in a full Body to the Council Chamber, which obliged the Consuls to call a Senate; and as the Fathers entred the House, the people falling at their feet shewed them the young mans mangled and Bloody Back, whereupon a Law was passed that from thence-forward the Estate and Goods and not the Body of any Debtor should be Chargeable for Debts. Thus was Papirius justly punished for his Lust and Savage Cruelty, in losing his Money, being deprived of the Object of his Lust, and branded with perpetual Infamy. [p. 174] . . .

      In the Life of Solon we have an Account That that great Philosopher and Law-giver was guilty of Unlawful Love towards Boys, and that designing to appropriate that Brutish pleasure to such as he call’d Gentlemen, he forbad the use of it to Slaves. In one of his Laws he permits an Heiress, if her Lawful Husband prove impotent, to lye with his nearest Kinsman; and yet he was so inconsistent with himself, that he permitted any one to kill an Adulterer, that found him in the Act. [p. 192] . . .

      In the Life of Demetrius Poliorcetes we have an account . . . that he had many Wives at the same time, and notwithstanding his multiplicity of Wives, became so enamour’d upon Lamia, a beautiful Lady, [p. 209] but infamous for her looseness of Conversation, that ’twas said all other Ladies were amorous of Demetrius, but Demetrius was only amorous of Lamia.

      This Lustful Prince was not however satisfied with his variety of Women, but did also pollute himself with the unnatural Crime of Sodomy; and it’s storied of him, that having been lost several days in a Debauch among his Companions, and pretending to keep his Chamber afterwards, by reason of Indisposition, his Father Antigonus came to see him, upon his approach to Demetrius’s Chamber, out bolts a sprightly young Fellow; and Antigonus going to his Bed-side, and feeling his Pulse, Demetrius not knowing well how to excuse himself, pretended that he had been ill of a Fever, but that he hoped it had now left him. Yes, reply’d the King, I believe it, for I just now met it at your Chamber Door; alluding to the young Catamite that sprung out of his Chamber. [p. 210] . . .

      This brutish Youth was so much enrag’d with unnatural Lust, that he tempted a beautiful young Man, call’d Damocles, to that degree, as made him to decline all manner of public Conversation, on purpose to avoid his design’d Passion; but Damocles going to a private Bath, the villainous Demetrius having Information of it, surpriz’d him there, so that the poor Youth seeing no other way to avoid him, leap’d into a boiling Vessel, and so became a Martyr to his Virtue. [p. 211] . . . [these accounts are from Plutarch’s Lives]

[Our author then turns to Suetonius]

Julius Caesar . . . Suetonius gives us a particular Enumeration of his Amours, which have spread his Infamy as far as ever his Fame reach’d: His being a Catamite, and guilty of Sodomy with Nicomedes King of Bythinia, occasion’d many Railleries upon him, and expos’d him to the Contempt of his Enemies; as, when he swagger’d one day in the Senate, and said, He would run down his Adversaries; they reply’d, that He would find that an hard Task for a Woman; alluding to his being prostituted by Nicomedes. They call’d him also The Queen of Bythinia’s Cuckoldmaker, the Bawdyhouse of Bythinia, and Nicomedes’s Stable: His Adeversary Bibulus said of him, when he proscrib’d him, That formerly he affected a King, but now a Kingdom. Octavius, a prating Fellow, whose Tongue usually got the start of his Wit, did one day, before a great company, when he saluted Pompey by the Name of King, give Caesar the Title of Queen. Cicero upbraided him with those things in his Epistles; and when Caesar, in his Plea before the Senate for Nisa Daughter to the said Nicomedes, insisted uon the good Offices that King had done him, Cicero cut him short, saying, No more of that, let me beg you, Sir; we all know very well what has passed betwixt you two. Nay, the very Souldiers who attended his Chariot in his Gallic Triumph, amongst other Lampoons us’d upon such occasions, had this noted Lampoon: [p. 228]

            Gallius Caesar subegit, Nicomedes Caesarem:
            Ecce Caesar nunc Triumphat qui subegit Gallias,
            Nicomedes non triumphat qui subegit Caesarem.

Which may be English’d thus:

            For conqu’ring Gaul, Caesar doth Lawrels wear,
Nicomedes doth no Trophies bear,
            Tho’ he made Conquest of the Conquerer

      He is generallky said to have been much inclin’d also to lust after Women, and to have been very prodigal in his Amours. . . . [p. 229]

. . . Tiberius retir’d to Capraea, where he gave himself up to Drink and Lust, insomuch that he was call’d Biberius, instead of Tiberius, and Maro instead of Nero, and was waited on at Meals by Wenches. There he invented Alcoves, which he furnish’d with Whores, and Catamites, and lewd Discoverers of unnatural and beastly Postures and Motions, and those he call’d Spinctriae, the Incendiaries of his Lust: He entertain’d himself by seeing them in three several rows abusing each other, thereby to excite his decay’d Appetite. He provided likewise several Chambers hung about with filthy Pictures and infamous Statues, and furnish’d them with the abominable Books of Elephantis, that if any one had a mind to be prodigiously wicked, he might not want a Pattern to sin by. He invented also in the Woods, Walks and Grottoes proper for the business of [p. 235] Debauchery, where young People of both Sexes prostituted themselves in the Masquerades of Nymphs and Satyrs; so that, in allusion to the Island and his beastly Lustfulness, he was publickly derided by the Name Caprinaeus. One incredible piece of Debauchery he was guilty of, viz. that he debauch’d young Children yet in ignorance, calling them his little Fry, teaching them to play between his Thighs while he swam, to lick, and tongue, and such him like Infants not yet weaned. It is also storied of him, that when a piece of Parrhasius’s Work, representing Atalanta offering her Mouth in that manner to Meleager, was left him for a Legacy, with condition, that if he fancied not the Design, he should receive in lieu thereof a Million of Sesterces, he not only chose the Picture, but placed it in his very Bed-chamber. And one time, when he was performing Sacrifice, he was so seiz’d with a Fit of this unnatural Passion towards the Boy, that carried the Censor, that he could scarce restrain himself till the Sacrifice was over, and as soon as that was done, he debauch’d both that Boy and his Brother; and hearing that they upbraided one another with that Ignominy afterwards, he order’d both their Leggs to be broken. [p. 236] . . .

      The next Instance is Nero . . . Sporus, a young Boiy, after he had caus’d him to be gelt, he endeavour’d to have a’together transform’d into a Woman, and after he had veil’d him, married him, and settl’d a Dowry upon him with all the Ceremonies of a sumptuous Wedding, he kept him at home as his Wife; upon which the Wits of those times said, It had been well for the World if Domitius his Father had had such a Wife. This Sporus he carried about with him, in a pompous and costly Habit, as if he had been the Empress her self, under the Title of Augusta, to all the trading Towns of Greece, and soon after shew’d him openly at Rome, in the Sigillarian Street, and would frequently kiss him as they sate together in the same Litter. . . . he prostrated his own Body to [p. 243] his enfranchis’d Bondman Doryphours, who had married him as he himself had wedded Sporus, and in that passive posture counterfeited the soft Cries and Complaints of a new-bedded Virgin. He was so very vile himself, that he believ’d every-body to be so, only that they dissembl’d their Vices, and were private in their Debauches; and if any Man would but confess their Obscenities to him, he pardon’d all the rest of their Crimes. [p. 244] . . .

      The next Instance is the Emperor Galba, of whom Suetonius gives us this following Account: That in the satisfaction of his Lust he was more prone to the Male Sex; nor did he care for any of that Sex neither, but such as were overgrown and exsolete. It is reported therefore in Spain, that when [p. 249] Icelus, one of the stalest of his He-concubines, brought him the News of Nero’s Death, he not only receiv’d him in publick with home-press’d Kisses, but courted and sent him away to be smooth’d without delay. . . . [p. 250]

      The next is Vitellius, concerning whom that same Author relates, That during his Youth he resided at Capreae, amongst Tiberius’s [p. 251] Catamites, insomuch that he was branded with the Sirname of Male Prostitute; and the Beauty of his Body was thought to have been the first Occasion of his Father’s Advancement. In the succeeding Years of his Age he was contaminated with all manner of Vice; after he came to the Empire, he surrender’d the greatest Share of the Government to be manag’d by the Council, or rather at the Will and Pleasure of every infamous Stage-player and Chariot-driver, more especially of Asiaticus his enfranchis’d Slave. [p. 252] . . .

SOURCE: A Flaming Whip for Lechery: or, The Whoremasters Speculum (London: Printed for Eliz. Harris, at the Harrow, in Little-Britain, 1700).

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "A Flaming Whip for Lechery, 1700", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 16 June 2005 <>.

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