SALOME

SALOME
A figure unnamed in the New Testament, but called Salome by Josephus. She was the daughter of Herodias and, through the latter's remarriage, stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod antipas , youngest son of Herod the Great (Jos., Ant., 18, 136). According to Mark (6:17–18): "For Herod (Antipas) himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John (the Baptist), and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife: he had married her. For John said unto Herod: It is unlawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (cf. Matt. 14:3–4; Luke 3:18–20). There is some confusion in Josephus as to when exactly the marriage between Herodias and Herod Antipas occurred and whether it was before or after John's death. The problem was in Herodias having married her two uncles, while both were still alive, a union forbidden by Jewish law. Salome was the child of the first marriage. The point John would have made in his teaching is that such a union was not in keeping with Leviticus (18:6). The Gospels seem to suggest that Antipas had no plans to kill John, but that a set of circumstances led to his execution at the behest of Herodias, who suggested that Salome ask for his head. This occurred on the occasion of a banquet to celebrate Herod's birthday in which he promised Salome anything that she desired because of her exquisite dancing. There are two passages dealing with the story (Matt. 14:1–12; Mark 6:14–29) and a comparison of the two is quite instructive. While the passage in Matthew is very factual in presentation, Mark's account is much more colorful. While in Matthew Salome was "instructed" by her mother beforehand (i.e., Herodias planned the beheading in a premeditated fashion), the story in Mark is that it was the result of a whim, with Salome having to leave the banquet hall to consult her mother: "What shall I ask?" Salome was a popular name in the Second Temple period: there are 52 recorded instances of the name and its variants (Heb. Shelomit, Shalom) in inscriptions and written sources. In the Gospels she is not mentioned directly by name and she is simply referred to there as "Daughter of Herodias" (Mark 6:22). It is Josephus who provides us with her exact name (Ant., 18:136). The Greek word associated with her in Mark indicates she was a very young girl, perhaps only 12, when she danced in front of Herod. Hence, she was probably born at the earliest in 16 C.E. Later, she is believed to have married Aristobulus, King of Lesser Armenia, but there have been some doubts about this. Jacobus de Voragine (c. 1230–1298) has preserved an apocryphal story about Salome's death, perhaps reflecting the wishful thinking of Christian writers who could not accept the possibility that Salome might have gotten away with it, i.e., there had to be some retribution for her act (Leg. Aur. Sanct.). According to the story, she was walking across an icy pond when the ice gave way and she drowned. Another chronicler says that "the earth swallowed her alive." (Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)   -In the Arts In literature, the theme was not popular before the mid-19th century, and most writers have considerably embroidered the stark tale to heighten its dramatic effect. One of the very few Jewish writers attracted by the theme was judah l. landau , whose Hebrew drama, Dam Taḥat Dam, appeared in 1897. The outstanding work on the subject was Oscar Wilde's tragedy, Salomé, which had a succès de scandale following its publication in French in 1893. Wilde made Salome a depraved personality driven on by her baffled lust for the Baptist, a treatment well calculated to outrage contemporary English opinion. An English translation by Lord Alfred Douglas appeared in 1894 and was subsequently published as Salomé; La sainte courtisane; A Florentine tragedy (1911). The play, first performed in Paris in 1896, only reached the English stage in 1931 when tastes had changed and censorship requirements had relaxed. Wilde provided an original dénouement by having the tetrarch order Salome's own execution amid her dreadful triumph. Another late 19th-century treatment of the subject was the German dramatist Hermann Sudermann's five-act tragedy, Johannes (18982; John the Baptist, 1909). The theme retained its popularity in the 20th century, beginning with Salome (1908), a Swiss-German tragedy by Richard Zwez. Salome also inspired a poem by the French surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire and a Croatian drama by Miroslav Krleža. Her mother, Herodias, was the heroine of two French works of the 19th century on closely related themes: Hérodiade (1869), a verse drama by Stéphane Mallarmé, and "Hérodias," the third of Gustave Flaubert's Trois Contes (1877), which imaginatively recreates the atmosphere of Roman-occupied Judea. In art, there were from the 11th century a number of representations of the feast at which Salome danced. In these Herod presides, wearing a crown or a medieval Jewish conical hat. On a capital from the cloister of St. Etienne (Musée des Augustins, Toulouse) he is shown in the act of tenderly chucking Salome under the chin. In the oldest representations, Salome dances in an upright position with movements of the hips, but in those produced after the 12th century she turns somersaults and stands on her hands in the manner of medieval acrobats. She was known in medieval France as "la danserelle" or "la sauterelle" (the grasshopper) and an acrobatic dance was named after her. In art she is shown performing dances which vary according to the fashion of the period. The dance of Salome appears in medieval carvings, stained-glass windows, the 12th-century bronze doors at St. Zeno, Verona, and in 12th- and 13th-century mosaics at the Florence Baptistery and St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice. It was also a popular subject in the early Italian Renaissance, when it was treated by Giotto (1266/67–1337) in his fresco at St. Croce, Florence; by Donatello (1386–1466) in a bronze bas-relief in the Baptistery of St. Giovanni, Siena; and by Fra Filippo Lippi (1406–1469) in a fresco at Prato Cathedral. The subject later appears in 17th-century Russian frescoes and in a drypoint etching by Picasso in which Salome dances before Herod in the nude. The scene where Salome receives John's head on a charger is usually shown together with that of his prior beheading. Salome's mother, Herodias, who is seated with Herod at the feast, is sometimes shown cutting a slit down the Baptist's forehead or piercing his tongue. Often, however, Herod and his wife cover their faces in horror, whereupon Salome faints. This scene is represented in a number of the sources already mentioned, and in paintings by Luini (Prado) and Lucas Cranach (1472–1553; Wadworth Athenaeum, Hartford, U.S.). In the 19th century, the French symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826–1896) painted The Apparition (now in the Louvre) – an opulent study of the dancing Salome who sees the head of John the Baptist in a vision. A portfolio of the English artist Aubrey Beardsley's drawings to illustrate Oscar Wilde's play was published in 1920. -In Music In music, the story has inspired general works, which the fancy of the librettists elaborated far beyond anything that can be found in the sources. Jules Massenet's Hérodiade (text by Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann under the pseudonym of Henri Grémont) was first performed in Brussels in 1881 and has remained in the repertoire. Here, Salome loves John and does not know that she is the daughter of Herodias; Herod falls in love with her and in the final dénouement, Salome kills herself. The most famous universal treatment of the theme is Richard Strauss's opera, Salome, written in 1904–05 to a libretto by Hedwig Lachmann based on Oscar Wilde's play. The opera's gruesome theme and the horrors it contained aroused strong opposition wherever it was performed, the sensuousness of the text being faithfully paralleled by the music. The "Dance of the Seven Veils" which forms Salome's climax is sometimes performed as a concert piece and, in the early 1920s, it was often presented as a vaudeville attraction. A setting of Wilde's play in the original French version was composed by Antoine Mariotte before 1905, but had its première only in 1908 (at Lyons), and this involved the composer in difficulties with Richard Strauss. Three works on the same subject followed almost immediately. Florent Schmitt's ballet, La Tragédie de Salomé (1907), included many Oriental themes which he had collected in 1900 on his travels in the Near East, especially in Palestine ("heard near the Dead Sea"). The same year saw the appearance of Karol Szymanowski's Salome, a circle of songs with orchestra (text by J. Kasprovicz; revised orchestration 1912), and Granville Bantock's opera, The Daughter of Herodias. Bantock also wrote incidental music for the Wilde play in 1918. Paul Hindemith's Hérodiade (1944), for chamber orchestra, was based on the verse drama by Mallarmé; it has also served for a ballet. Among compositions of incidental music for the play is that by Leonard Bernstein (1955). (Bathja Bayer) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Daffner, Salome, Ihre Gestalt in Geschichte und Kunst (1912); R. Cansinos-Assens, Salome en la Literatura. Flaubert, Wilde, Mallarmé, Eugenio de Castro, Apollinaire (1919), includes translations; H.G. Zagona, The Legend of Salome and the Principle of Art for Art's Sake (1960); M. Roston, Biblical Drama in England   (1968), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Haldeman, "The Feverish Head on the Disk of the Sun: Salome Through the Ages," in: International History Magazine, 10 (1973), 64–79; N. Kokkinos, "Which Salome did Aristobulus Marry?" in: PEQ, 118 (1986), 33–50; S. Gibson, The Cave of John the Baptist (2004), 242–44; T. Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity. Part I: Palestine 330 B.C.E.–200 C.E. (2002), 249–53.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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