From Academic Kids

For other uses of Salomé and Salome, see Salome.

Salomé, like Dismas, or the various names of the Three Magi, is a name given to a character in the Bible whose name is not given in the Bible itself. The name "Salomé" is preserved in the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus.

Salomé with the Head of John the Baptist by , painted circa 1515 (Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome)
Salomé with the Head of John the Baptist by Titian, painted circa 1515 (Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome)

Biblical character

Salomé was the step-daughter of Herod Antipas, and danced before Herod and her mother Herodias at the occasion of Herod's birthday, and by doing so caused the death of John the Baptist. The New Testament suggests that Salomé caused John to be executed because of his complaints that Herod's marriage to Herodias was adulterous; and that Herodias put her up to the demand that John be executed, something the king was initially reluctant to do. According to Mark 6:21-29:

And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.
And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb. (KJV)

This Salomé is probably not the same Salomé who is said to be a witness to the Crucifixion of Jesus in Mark 15:40. (see Salome (disciple)).

Salomé in the arts


This Biblical story has long been a favourite of painters, since it offers a chance to depict oriental splendour, semi-nude women, and exotic scenery under the guise of a Biblical subject. Painters who have done notable representations of Salomé include Titian and Gustave Moreau.

"The Peacock Skirt", illustration by  for 's play Salomé
"The Peacock Skirt", illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for Oscar Wilde's play Salomé

Oscar Wilde's Salomé

Main article: Salomé (play)

This story was made the subject of a play by Oscar Wilde that premiered in Paris in 1896. In Wilde's play, Salomé takes a perverse fancy for John the Baptist, and causes him to be executed when John spurns her affections. In the finale, Salomé takes up John's severed head and kisses it. Because British law forbade the depiction of Bible characters on stage, Wilde wrote the play originally in French, and then produced an English translation. Wilde, unfortunately, struggled with his French, and the play was proofread and corrected by Marcel Schwob.


Main article: Salome (opera)

The Wilde play (in German translation) was turned into an opera by Richard Strauss, part of the standard operatic repertoire and is now better known than the Wilde play itself. The opera Salome, which premiered in Dresden in 1905, is famous for the Dance of the seven veils.


Wilde's Salomé has at least twice been made into a film: a 1923 silent film starring Alla Nazimova in the title role (see Salomé (1923 movie)) and a 1998 Ken Russell play-within-a-film treatment, Salomé's Last Dance, which also includes Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas as characters.

Carlos Saura made a film of Salomé in 2002.

See also

de:Salome nl:Salomé ja:サロメ pl:Salome pt:Salomé zh:莎乐美


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