Oh, To Be Francus’s Spanking Wench

In Julian Keenan’s recent spanking article in Slate, she linked to a scholarly article about the 1599 whipping epigram In Francum:

When Francus comes to sollace with his whoore
He sends for rods and strips himselfe stark naked:
For his lust sleepes, and will not rise before,
By whipping of the wench it be awaked.
I envie him not, but wish I had the powre,
To make my selfe his wench but one halfe houre.

I’d seen the epigram before, but not this analysis, which makes it even more interesting and complex:

The concluding moment of identification is less straightforward than it might appear, for, as Ian Frederick Moulton argues, the phrase “whipping of the wench” could refer to either Francus whipping the wench or the wench whipping Francus in order to arouse him. Since the epigram’s speaker wants to be the wench, it is unclear whether he wants to be beaten by or to beat Francus himself.

Also, are we sure that the speaker who wants to beat or be beaten is a “he”? I am not enough of a scholar of epigrams to know whether that’s a casual assumption or a well-established literary fact.

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