The Dread of Spanking After Death

Many major religions have as part of their conceptual framework the threat of eternal punishment in the afterlife, and Christian art in particular has used Hell as the vehicle for a kind of sadistic phantasmagoria exemplified in the work of Hieronymus Bosch:


Posthumous spiritual torment is rendered into inventive, bizarre forms, but above all it is made physical, not just because that’s better represented in the visual medium, but because it is simply easier to comprehend. So when James Janeway, a godly English writer of the seventeenth century, tried to explain it to young people in a suitably terrifying way, he picked the most dreaded experience of their youthful lives: he told them that Hell was like being spanked, only a thousand times worse. He was tapping exactly into the conceptual structure of retribution: there is always an ultimate punishment, a final sanction, which might be a sound spanking for a misbehaving teenager, or eternal damnation in the wider metaphysical context of humanity’s place in the overall created universe. And, in the visual imagination of the eastern Christians in what is now Romania, the analogy was exact.

Here’s a young woman who has been sent to Hell for sleeping on a Sunday:

It’s a detail from a damnation mural on the wall of the monastery in the Transylvanian commune of Sambata de Sus. And lest you suppose this is a purely medieval phenomenon, part of the age of Bosch that was banished with the coming of the Enlightenment, here’s one from St Eleutherius’ Church in Bucharest, which was done as recently as the 18th century:

And here’s a better preserved one, but of similar date, at the Horezu Monastery in the south of the country:

A special place in Hell: surely the ultimate in spanking threats!

5 thoughts on “The Dread of Spanking After Death

  1. James P Scribner says:

    Dante’s Divine Comedy it should be noted has a spanking scene in the Earthly Paradise on top of Mount Purgatory where one of the main pastimes is to watch allegorical holographic shows similar to the ones on Star Trek. One Dante mentions watching had a naked prostitute, symbolizing moral corruption in the Church, getting a spanking from her brutal drunken husband, symbolizing the feudal State, for trying to seduce Dante. Definitely the section of the Hereafter I personally plan to hang out at. As Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through Hell keep going.” 🙂


    • Harry says:

      The passage you mean is at the end of Canto 32 of the Purgatorio, when Dante sees a harlot kissing a giant. The harlot breaks off to ogle Dante, whereupon, in the original Italian,

      Ma perche l’occhio cupido e vagante
      a me rivolse, quel feroce drudo
      La flagello dal capo infin le piante.

      (But when she turned her greedy, roving eye on me, that fierce lover scourged her from head to foot.)

      The usual interpretation of the allegory is that the harlot represents the papacy, and the giant (who proceeds to abduct the harlot) is the French monarchy, which forcibly removed the papal seat from Rome to Avignon in 1309, shortly before the poem was written.

      And since the harlot’s ‘seat’ plays no particular part in the thrashing, which covers her whole body, to my mind it’s a big stretch to call this a husband-and-wife spanking scene. But if it’s what you want to see in the afterlife, don’t let me spoil your fantasies…


    • Harry says:

      Well, maybe… It depends what you consider to be ‘spanking’.

      This was in the first episode of Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure, from 2015, which has regrettably been taken off YouTube, so we can’t easily see it for ourselves. But there are various reviews which mention the incident, plus a transcript of her commentary. One of the reviews establishes that she was kneeling and upright, and she described it as: ‘getting the future badness spanked out of me, which was quite good.’ So she used the word ‘spanked’, which is also quite good, but she then went on to say: ‘The back didn’t hurt but the front hurt a little bit on the leg.’ Which doesn’t sound very much like a spanking in even the loose sense of the word, let alone for an OTK purist like me.

      Now, I guess many of us would find it enjoyable to watch a Joanna Lumley spanking…


      especially back in the day…


      so it’s worth remembering the fact that Joanna Lumley did once star in a spanking scene.

      On December 22, 1985, she appeared in a revue at London’s Dominion Theatre, organized by the Who’s Pete Townshend in aid of a domestic violence charity. Joanna’s bit was an extract from the pantomime Aladdin. Here she is in costume:


      Widow Twankee is played by Pete Townshend himself, which may have been one of the organizer’s perks – because this was the part of the panto where Widow Twankee spankee (if you’ll pardon the cod pseudo-Chinese).

      The scene was photographed, as you can see, and I understand one of the shots was of Joanna being spanked. But I’m sorry to say that I’ve never managed to track that one down!


  2. James P Scribner says:

    The significant point of spanking as a metaphor for Divine Punishment no matter what sort of religious beliefs anyone may have, is that it essentially resolves the philosophic Problem of Evil claimed by the Atheist religion set up by the French Jacobin Reign of Terror, by putting human suffering in the context of the learning experiences of children rather than viewing it as some sort of evidence we live in a dead random universe indifferent to human existence where there is no real possibility of anything being right or wrong since we all end up equally dead no matter what we choose to do or believe. As the writers of Big Bang Theory and its successor prequel series Young Sheldon have pointed out, as good comedy always does, right and wrong can be very complex even for the most intelligent people to figure out in particular situations. We normally tend to avoid pain and seek pleasure, but sometimes we have to refuse pleasure and accept pain for a lot of good reasons it may be difficult for many people to understand.


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