31 March 2021

Flaying as judicial punishment

"This, then, is what Darius said, and after appointing Artaphrenes, his father's son, to be viceroy of Sardis, he rode away to Susa, taking Histiaeus with him. First, however, he made Otanes governor of the people on the coast. Otanes' father Sisamnes had been one of the royal judges, and Cambyses had cut his throat and flayed off all his skin because he had been bribed to give an unjust judgment. Then he cut leather strips of the skin which had been torn away and with these he covered the seat upon which Sisamenes had sat to give judgment.  After doing this, Cambyses appointed the son of this slain and flayed Sisamnes to be judge in his place, admonishing him to keep in mind the nature of the throne on which he was sitting."                   --- Herodotus, The Histories, Book 5, Chapter 2.

There is some relevant discussion at the via.

Related post at Atlas Obscura: Saint Bartholomew Flayed.


  1. Probably better to have one's throat cut and then be flayed than to be flayed alive...

  2. They were certainly inventive back in the day.

    Was something like that as "shocking" back then as it would be today? Or were people so used to that kind of treatment that it was considered "the norm"? Herodotus would be writing at a time of hand to hand combat, spears and swords severing parts and impaling them, so something like a live flaying would seem "Oh, there was another flaying at the marketplace today, dear.".

  3. Are we going to ignore the guy holding the knife in his mouth as he uses both hands to pull the skin from the leg and foot? Ick!!!


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