E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Battle of the Whips.
The Scythian slaves once rose in rebellion against their masters, and many a bloody encounter followed. At length, one of the Scythian masters said to his followers: Let us throw away our spears and swords, and fight in future with whips. We get killed by the former weapons and weakened. So in the next encounter they armed themselves with whips, and immediately the slaves saw the whips, remembering former scourgings, they turned tail and were no more trouble.