Who is Salome?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

Salome was the step-daughter of Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee and Perea, around the turn of the first century CE. She appears in the New Testament in Matthew 14:6-8 and Mark 6:22, although she is not named. In the Bible, as in most scholarly literature of the time, she is referred to as the Daughter of Herodias.

Irish author wrote his play "Salome" in 1891.
Irish author wrote his play "Salome" in 1891.

Salome's mother Herodias outraged and alienated many of her subjects by divorcing Salome's father, Herod II, and marrying his brother Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Such an action was forbidden according to Jewish marriage law of the time and considered by some to amount to incest. According to the Gospels, John the Baptist was one of Herodias' most vocal critics. Herodias therefore persuaded Salome to dance seductively for Antipas and ask for the head of John the Baptist as a reward.

In the Bible, as in most scholarly literature of the time, Salome is referred to as the Daughter of Herodias.
In the Bible, as in most scholarly literature of the time, Salome is referred to as the Daughter of Herodias.

The story of the girl who could dance compellingly enough to effect an execution as her reward has struck the imagination of many artists and writers throughout the years. Many have also used fiction to speculate about Salome's true motives, as she appears in the Bible as nothing more than a pawn in her mother's scheme. In Massenet's 1881 Opera, Herodiade, based on a novella by Gustave Flaubert, Salome is portrayed as an innocent follower of John the Baptist who commits suicide after his death. In his French play Salome of 1891, Oscar Wilde attributes Salome's request to her unrequited lust for John the Baptist.

Salome's dance has also been given extensive treatment in art, from paintings by Titian, Moreau, and Klimt, among others, to the famous dance scene in the Strauss opera Salome, based on Wilde's play. Salome is said to have won her father-in-law's heart with the Dance of the Seven Veils, in which she wore seven veils that were removed one by one during the course of the dance. Tom Robbin's novel Skinny Legs and All also uses the Dance of the Seven veils as a theme and includes a memorable dance scene.

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a wiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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Discussion Comments

anon336673

I read things on the internet that disagrees with the bible. I believe the bible, not what someone has written on the internet. God bless.

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