Salomé

by: Oscar Wilde

Herodias

Herodias, usually a major player in the Salomé legend, is less of a key figure in Wilde's play. She has lost her erotic attachment to Jokanaan, but she has gained a certain stolid practicality. She is the antithesis of symbolic mysticism, placed in direct opposition to Herod, Salomé, and most of the cast, which is characterized by its propensity for finding symbolism and the omen in particular in the world. Herodias scorns the symbol. Thus, for example, when Herod sees a madwoman in the moon, she can only scoff: "the moon is like the moon, that is all". A proud, hard, and unsympathetic queen, Herodias abhors the prophet, who has slandered her as a wanton, incestuous harlot and remains alive against her wishes. Though not the instigator of his death, Herodias will cheer the prophet's death in face of her husband's horror. According to Jokanaan, she is also guilty of a crime of sight, having "seen the images of Chaldeans limned in colors" and given herself up "unto the lust of her eyes."