The Seductive Salome has Inspired for Ages

A deadly dance.

By + More

"It's a striptease," says Bentley, who has no doubt that Salome's dance was deliberate. "However you cloak it, whether it's classical ballet or striptease, dance is sexual," she says, noting that women who dance have often been portrayed in history as dangerous women. "I think the Bible sends the message that Salome is a bad woman—meaning sexual woman," says Bentley. "Even though the mother is complicit, even though the stepfather orders John's death, Salome is ultimately held responsible for the death of a holy man—a classic case of blaming the woman."

And what end did Salome herself meet? According to the legend presented by historian Nicephorus, Salome fell through the ice on a frozen lake, the shards piercing her neck and decapitating her—a fittingly dramatic death for a woman who so easily solicited murder. The historian Josephus, however, tells us that Salome led a fairly routine existence, marrying and bearing three children by her cousin Aristobulus, living out her life without further scandal.