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The Daughter of Hérodias: Salomé’s transcendent eroticism and her anticipatory dance of desire

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The theme of the Princess of Judea intensely permeated French literature during the second half of the nineteenth century and profoundly influenced fin de siècle writers and artists. Derived from biblical sources, the character of Salomé dances for the Tetrarch, Herod Antipas. In reward for her lascivious dance, she may ask whatever her heart desires. She demands the head of John the Baptist, the prophet imprisoned for having denounced the incestuous relationship of King Herod with his sister-inlaw Hérodias, queen and mother of Salomé. To elucidate Salomé’s infamous dance, this article first examines the dance as a richly protracted and spiritually vivid narrative as it appears in Gustave Flaubert’s Hérodias (1877) before analysing the symbolic signification and cryptic meaning of Oscar Wilde’s Dance of the Seven Veils from his 1891 radical tragedy Salomé, an iconic naming that is synonymous with the biblical myth today.
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Keywords: Gustave Flaubert; Oscar Wilde; Salomé; dance; spirituality; symbolism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aix-Marseille Université, Département d’études du monde anglophone (DEMA)

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • Research into spirituality receives comparatively little attention in western dance practices but Dance, Movement & Spiritualities provides a platform for those practitioners and researchers who are actively and creatively working with spirituality at the centre of their practice/research. Contributions are invited from across disciplines.
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