This biblical character assassination—if that's what it is —succeeded only too well. Jezebel reappears as a New Testament prophet in Revelation 2:20, encouraging servants to fornicate and eat the animals that had been sacrificed to the gods. She has come down through the ages as the primary symbol of wanton, shameless womanhood. She has been limned by playwright William Shakespeare and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, by 16th-century religious reformer John Knox and novelist James Joyce. Frankie Laine had an international hit single Jezebel in the 1950s, and Boyz II Men sing about her today.
In 1938, Bette Davis won an Academy Award for best actress playing the title role in the steamy melodrama Jezebel set in the 1850s. Jezebel characters have appeared in such television shows as I Love Lucy, Little House on the Prairie, and The Muppet Show. And her name was invoked during the investigation into President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. From Lady Macbeth to Lizzie Borden, among history's most famous female villains, fictional or real, the pagan queen of Kings 1 and 2 still rules as the most wicked and enduring of them all.