Study Guide

Salomé

Salomé Summary

The scene: Herod's palace. Night. A group of soldiers stands on a balcony. Below, Herod is throwing a lavish banquet. A young Syrian looks down upon the banquet—he can't take his eyes off of Salomé. His companion, the Page of Herodias tells him to stop staring.

Meanwhile, the other soldiers, alarmed by the shouting of the Jews down below, begin talking about religion. From off-stage we hear the shouting of Jokanaan, the prophet whom the soldiers are guarding. He makes cryptic, foreboding statements, which only increase their interest in him; they can't see him, though, because Herod, the Tetrarch, has forbidden it. They talk about his prison, an old cistern, and its previous occupant—the king's brother. One soldier, the Cappadocian, is shocked to hear that the king had him put to death (ouch) and is frightened by Naaman, the brawny, ripped Executioner.

At this point Salomé, the daughter of Herodias, enters. She is sick of being stared at (lustfully—ew) by her stepfather, and is glad to get some fresh air. The young Syrian attempts to wait upon her, but she ignores him. When Salomé hears Jokanaan calling out, she's immediately interested in him. She's heard of him before; and she knows that he says terrible things about her mother (um, that's weird, Sal). She begs the young Syrian to let her see him, and gets her way by promising him a flower. Aww.

The moment she sees Jokanaan, Salomé is fascinated and thinks he's hawt. Her feelings fluctuate wildly: she praises his body, but when he won't let her touch it, she curses him. She goes on to do the same thing with his hair and his lips. Jokanaan refuses her come-ons. He tells her to go to "the Son of Man" and ask his forgiveness. Salomé doesn't listen—she tells Jokanaan again and again: "I will kiss thy mouth." The young Syrian just can't handle the how intense she is—he commits suicide. Jokanaan returns to his cistern.

The Page moans about the death of his friend while the soldiers scramble to remove his body—Herod doesn't like to see dead bodies unless he has ordered the dudes killed—but they're interrupted by entrance of Herod and his court. Creepy Herod is looking for Salomé.

Herod is none too happy to find the dead body, and sorry to see the captain of his guard dead; he feels a cold wind blowing and hears the beating of wings. Ugh. Ominous. He attempts again and again to get Salomé's attention, but he only succeeds in annoying Herodias.

When Jokanaan cries out, Herodias only becomes more agitated—she's sick of hearing him curse her. She asks Herod to get rid of him, and accuses him of being frightened of the prophet. A Jew agrees, and asks Herod to put him into Jewish custody. When Herod remarks that he will not, that for all he knows Jokanaan may have seen God, the Jews begin to argue. They discuss the nature of God, and dispute the claim that Jokanaan is actually the reincarnation of the prophet Elias.

A couple of Nazarenes enter the conversation and say that yeah, Jokanaan is the prophet. They also tell everyone that the Messiah (which the prophet speaks of) has come, and that he's been performing miracles. But Herod becomes alarmed when he hears that this guy has been raising the dead, and insists that he stop immediately. Some things are too creepy, even for Herod.

He quickly changes the subject and begins to ask Salomé to dance for him. Ick. Despite Herodias not liking the idea, Herod eventually succeeds in getting his stepdaughter to dance. In return, he swears that he will give her anything she wants.

After performing the Dance of the Seven Veils, Salomé makes her request. She wants the head of Jokanaan on a silver charger. Herod laughs, but gets worried when he realizes that she is serious. He begs her to pick something else, offering all kinds of riches to her if she'll only change her mind. She stands by her decision—which Herodias heartily approves of, (what a sicko)—and Herod says okie dokie. He calls for Jokanaan to be beheaded.

When Jokanaan's head is brought out, Salomé begins to talk to it. She curses him for stirring up an crazy passion in her and for destroying her chastity. She wonders why he didn't look at her. Herod is really icked out by what he sees, and so he begins to leave. He calls for the lights to be put out. In the darkness, Salomé kisses Jokanaan.

"I have kissed thy mouth," she says, "I have kissed thy mouth." Herod turns around and, seeing Salomé, orders his soldiers to kill her.

  • Section 1

    • One night, over at Herod's palace, a group of soldiers are hanging out on a terrace. Looking over the balcony, they can see the banquet hall below.
    • On the right there's a huge staircase, on the left a big cistern surrounded by a wall. The moon shines brightly over the whole scene.
    • The young Syrian is too busy checking out Princess Salomé to notice the moon, however. She's a hottie with a body.
    • The Page of Herodias, on the other hand, can't take his eyes off the moon. He thinks it looks strange, like "a woman rising from a tomb," like a dead woman looking for dead things" (3).
    • The young Syrian continues talking about a "she" with a "strange look," but he's still talking about Salomé, not the moon. Now he's comparing her feet to silver and doves. The Page is still going on about the dead moon.
    • These guys are definitely an odd couple.
    • Meanwhile, two soldiers are having a conversation. The first can't believe the noise he hears coming from the banqueting hall; he wants to know what "wild beasts" are making it.
    • It's the Jews, the second soldier tells him, arguing over their religion; for instance, he says, one group believes in the existence of angels, while another denies their existence. The first soldier doesn't believe they could argue over that stuff.
    • The young Syrian is still totally staring Salomé. Herodias' Page tells him to stop. Otherwise, he warns, something bad is bound to happen. Still, he can't help but continue staring (and drooling?).
    • The two soldiers notice that Herod's looking pretty somber tonight. They think he's looking at someone, but they can't tell who.
    • The young Syrian's still looking at Salomé. She looks pale, he says, pale like the "shadow of a white rose in a mirror of silver" (20). The Page tells him to stop…or else.
    • Now the soldiers see Herodias pouring Herod some wine. A Cappadocian (that is, a person from central Turkey; lots of the people who come in are defined by the region they're from and, well, this part of the play consists of people walking on stage and talking about things happening off-stage) comes in and says, "Hey, is that Queen Herodias down there, the one with the blue hair?"
    • The first soldier says yeah.
    • The second one starts talking about how much Herod loves wine. What follows is sort of a comedy routine between the soldier and the Cappadocian. Allow us to paraphrase:
      • SOLDIER: Caesar's drinking three wines tonight. One is purple like the robe of Caesar.
      • CAPPY: I've never seen Caesar!
      • SOLDIER: The second one is yellow like gold.
      • CAPPY: I love gold!
      • SOLDIER: The third is red like blood.
    • Before the Cappadocian can come in and say how he loves blood or has never seen it or whatever, the Nubian shows up and starts talking about how the "gods of his country" love blood, but that his people are never really making enough sacrifices to keep them happy.
    • This gets the Cappadocian talking again.
    • He says that there used to be gods in his country before the Romans came, and he even went looking for them in the mountains. He went looking three whole times, calling their names and everything, and still couldn't find them. So, he concludes, they're dead.
    • The Jews, the first soldier says, believe in a God they can't see.
    • The Cappadocian can't believe it.
    • Yeah, the soldier continues. The Jews can't believe in anything unless they can't see it. The Cappadocian really can't believe it.
    • From offstage, we hear the voice of Jokanaan. He's talking about a guy who's going to come after him, who's going to be much mightier than he is. I'm not, he says, even worthy to untie his sandals. This guy, he says, will make the flowers bloom and the blind see and the deaf hear.
    • One of the soldiers tells the other to make him shut up. The other soldier tells the first soldier to stop himself.
    • The yelling guy, he says, is a holy man and very gentle; he even thanks the soldier for every meal.
    • Naturally, the Cappadocian wants to know all about him.
    • So, the soldier gives him a brief biography. The guy's named Jokanaan. He's a prophet. He used to live in the desert, where he survived on locusts and wild honey and wore camel hair. Back then, he says, people used to follow him everywhere, and he "even had disciples" (44). Still, the soldier really can't understand a thing he says.
    • The Cappadocian wants to see him, but the soldier tells him that the Tetrarch (Herod) has forbidden it.
    • The Syrian is still staring at Salomé. She's hiding her face behind her fan now, and her hands are fluttering like doves, like white butterflies. The Page tells him to stop staring…or else.
    • The Cappadocian points at the cistern and says "What a strange prison!" (53). It must be a poisonous place, he says.
    • The second soldier tells him that it is not, in fact, poisonous. The Tetrarch's older brother, Herodias' first husband, lived there for twelve years and it didn't kill him.
    • They had to call in Naaman, a "huge Negro," to strangle him to death. The soldier points out Naaman, the Executioner, who has apparently been hanging out on stage the whole time.
    • Wasn't he afraid of killing him? asks the Cappadocian. Then there's another little comedy routine:
      • CAPPY: Wasn't he afraid?
      • SOLDIER 2: No, the Tetrarch sent him the ring.
      • CAPPY: What ring?
      • SOLDIER 2: Why, the death ring, of course!
      • CAPPY: Still, isn't it weird killing the king?
      • SOLDIER 1: Nah. Kings have one neck just like anybody else.
    • The Syrian is still staring at Salomé. Now she's standing up. She looks troubled. She's coming toward them. She's looking pale, paler than ever.
    • The Page tells him to stop staring…or else.
    • She's like a dove, the Syrian says, like a "narcissus trembling in the wind…She is like a silver flower" (66).
  • Section 2

    • Salomé enters.
    • Salomé angry; she wants to leave. She's sick of Herod staring at her with his beady little eyes. She's freaked out, because he's her father, and she knows what that kind of stare means.
    • The Syrian tries to talk to her, but she doesn't pay attention to him.
    • Salomé is more interested n the freshness of the air. She's glad to get away from the Jews, who are arguing, and the drunken barbarians and the vain Greeks and the moody Egyptians and the coarse Romans.
    • Oooh, she says to herself, how I hate those nasty Romans.
    • The Syrian asks her if she wants to sit down.
    • The Page tells him to stop bothering her…or else.
    • Salomé's looking at the moon now. It looks like a little coin, she says, like a silver flower, cold and chaste and undefiled. The moon looks like a virgin.
    • Jokanaan starts up again. This time he's talking about "the Lord."
    • The son of man has come, he says, and the centaurs have hidden themselves and the nymphs have left the rivers and started hiding in the forest (74). Sounds like the Cappadocian could get some help finding his gods from Jokanaan.
    • Salomé wants to know who's yelling.
    • The second soldier tells her that it's the prophet yelling.
    • Ah, she says, the prophet who scares the Tetrarch?
    • The second soldier says he knows nothing about that. All he knows is that he's a prophet and he's named Jokanaan.
    • The Syrian asks Salomé if she'd like them to bring out her litter. It sure is a nice in the garden, he says.
    • "He [Jokanaan] says terrible things about my mother," Salomé asks the soldier," does he not?" (80).
    • The soldier says he never understands what he says.
    • Yes, Salomé says, he says terrible things about my mother.
    • The Slave enters, bringing news from the Tetrarch: Herod wants Salomé back at the feast.
    • The Syrian tells her she'd better go back…or else something bad might happen.
    • Salomé asks Syrian if Jokanaan is an old man.
    • The Syrian tells her she'd better go back in.
    • Salomé asks him the same question.
    • No, says the first soldier, he's actually really young.
    • I don't know, says the second soldier, some say he's actually the prophet Elias.
    • Who's Elias? asks Salomé
    • An old prophet, says the second soldier.
    • The slave's getting impatient now. He wants to know what he should tell Herod.
    • Jokanaan interrupts again. He's saying something about a broken rod and a basilisk and some birds.
    • Salomé wants to talk to Jokanaan.
    • The first soldier tells him she can't. The first soldier says that there's no way she can. She insists. The Syrian asks her if she wouldn't rather go back to the banquet.
    • Salomé tells the slave to bring out Jokanaan. The slave leaves.
    • The soldiers tell her, again, that they aren't going to get Jokanaan.
    • Salomé goes to the side of the cistern and looks down into it. She can't believe how black it is down there. She yells at the soldiers and tells them to bring out Jokanaan.
    • The first soldier begs her to stop asking them, but that only makes Salomé angrier.
    • Salomé sees the Syrian, and then gasps. The Page is certain that something bad is finally going to happen.
    • Salomé addresses the Syrian—who happens to be named Narraboth—like he's a young child. You'll do what I say, she says, right? She tells him that she just wants to have a look at the prophet, because she's heard so much about him. The Tetrarch fears him, she says, but you're not afraid, right?
    • The Syrian tells her that he, brave dude that he is, fears no man, but that Herod has forbidden any man to even raise the cover of the well.
    • Salomé tells the Syrian that, if he does him this one little favor, she'll drop him a green flower when she passes him by the next day.
    • The Syrian insists that he just can't do it.
    • Salomé assures him that he can and will do it, and that he'll get a flower and a smile when he does.
    • The Syrian tells a third soldier to let Jokanaan out.
    • Salomé gasps with pleasure.
    • The Page starts looking at the moon again. It looks like the hand of a dead woman, he says, who is seeking to cover herself with a shroud (116).
    • The Syrian says she looks like a "little princess whose eyes, whose eyes are amber" (116).
    • Jokanaan emerges from the cistern. Salomé slowly steps back.
    • The prophet begins talking about "he whose cup of abominations is now full," and demands that he come forward.
    • Salomé wants to know what he's talking about, but no one understands.
    • Now Jokanaan calls out to she who "gave herself up into the lust of her eyes" (121). Salomé guesses that that he's talking about her mother. The Syrian tries to assure her that he's not, but she's pretty sure of it.
    • Jokanaan continues to call for that woman, she who "gave herself unto the Captains of Assyria [… and] to the young men of the Egyptians" (125). He demands that she be roused from "her incestuousness, that she may hear the words of him who prepareth the way of the Lord, that she may repent her iniquities" (125).
    • Salomé is amazed by how terrible he is.
    • The Syrian begs her to leave, but she won't.
    • She's mesmerized by Jokanaan's eyes, which she compares to black caverns and black lakes. She wonders if he'll speak again.
    • The Syrian begs her to leave, but she won't. She's too busy admiring Jokanaan's "wasted" body. He's like a "thin ivory statue," she says, "a moonbeam […] a shaft of silver." She begs to look more closely at him.
    • The Syrian is flipping out, now, and Jokanaan is getting angry. He doesn't want this strange woman looking at him. He tells the Syrian to get her out of his way.
    • Salomé introduces herself as the daughter of Herodias. Jokanaan flips out and tells her to get away. "Thy mother hath filled the earth with the wine of her iniquities," he says, "and the cry of her sinning hath come up even to the ears of the Lord" (134).
    • Salomé asks Jokanaan to keep talking. His voice is like music to her ears; the Syrian continues to flip out.
    • Salomé begs Jokanaan to keep talking, to tell her what to do.
    • Jokanaan tells her to get out of his sight, cover herself with a veil, scatter ashes on her head, and go out into the desert to find the Son of Man. Dang.
    • Salomé asks him to tell her more about the Son of Man. Is he as beautiful as you are, she asks? Jokanaan tells her to leave him be. He can hear the beating of the wings of the angel of death.
    • The Syrian begs Salomé to leave.
    • Jokanaan addresses the angel of death, asking it why it has come.
    • Salomé calls out Jokanaan's name. She has something important to tell him. She wants his body, his body that is "white like the lilies of the field." "There is nothing in the world so white as thy body," she tells him. "Suffer me to touch thy body" (145).
    • Jokanaan tells her to get away from him. "By woman," he says, "evil came into the world." He won't listen to her, he says, because he only listens to God.
    • Now Salomé tells Jokanaan that his body is "hideous […] like the body of a leper" and like a half dozen other terribly ugly things. It's his hair, his rich black hair, that she loves. "The silence that dwells in the forest is not so black," she says. "There is nothing in the world so black as thy hair...Suffer me to touch thy hair" (147).
    • Jokanaan tells her to get back.
    • Salomé changes her tune again. Now his hair is the hideous thing…it's his mouth that she wants. It is "like the bow of the King of the Persians, that is painted with vermilion, and is tipped with coral." "There is nothing in the world so red as thy mouth," she says. "Suffer me to kiss thy mouth" (149).
    • No way, cries Jokanaan.
    • Salomé insists that she will kiss his mouth.
    • The Syrian tries to stop Salomé. He tells her to stop looking at him, to stop speaking to him. "I cannot," he says, "endure it" (152).
    • Salomé insists that she will kiss the mouth of Jokanaan.
    • The Syrian kills himself.
    • Whoa.
  • Section 3

    • The Page screams. Just as he warned, something terrible has happened. Still, he's pretty shocked by the death of his friend. He wishes he could have done something to stop it, he wishes he could have hid him away, but it's too late now.
    • The first soldier tells Salomé that the Syrian has killed himself, but still she cries: "Suffer me to kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan" (157).
    • Jokanaan warns her. Aren't you scared? he asks her. Remember how I mentioned the angel of death? Well, there he is.
    • Again, she says: "Suffer me to kiss thy mouth" (159). (Salomé's got a one-track mind.)
    • Jokanaan tells Salomé that "there is but one who can save thee, it is He of whom I spake" (161). He tells her to go to find him at the Sea of Galilee, bow down at his feet and ask for forgiveness.
    • Again, she says: "Suffer me to kiss thy mouth" (161).
    • Jokanaan curses her.
    • Salomé warns him: "I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan" (163).
    • Jokanaan curses her again, then returns to the cistern.
    • Salomé calls out to him: "I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan; I will kiss thy mouth" (165).
    • The first soldier gets down to business, now. We have to get rid of this body, he says; the Tetrarch doesn't like seeing the bodies of people unless he's the one who's ordered them to be killed.
    • The Page continues lamenting the death of the Syrian, whom he now calls his "brother."
    • The second soldier agrees that they have to get rid of the body.
    • Still, the first soldier is pretty confident that Herod isn't going to come up the terrace; after all, he's afraid of Jokanaan.
  • Section 4

    • Enter Herod, Herodias, and everyone else in the court.
    • Herod demands to know where Salomé is.
    • Herodias tells him to stop looking at Salomé.
    • Herod looks up at the moon. He thinks it looks strange, like a "mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers" (173). She is naked, he says, and will not let the clouds clothe her; she reels like a drunk, he says, like a mad woman.
    • Herodias tells him that the moon is the moon and nothing more. (Finally, someone's telling it like it is.) She wants to get out of there.
    • Herod insists on staying there. He tells a servant to lay down some carpets, put down a table, and light some torches. He wants to entertain the ambassadors of Caesar, he says, but Herodias knows that's not really what he wants to do.
    • While calling out to Herodias, Herod slips in blood. Suddenly, he notices the body of the Syrian, which is just lying there.
    • He flips out and demands to know what's going on.
    • The soldiers explain that it's the body of their captain. Herod doesn't understand; he didn't ask for the guy to be killed.
    • The soldiers explain that he killed himself for…reasons.
    • Herod is confused. He was under the impression that only "Roman philosophers" killed themselves. He turns to Tigellinus, one of the Roman ambassadors, for confirmation.
    • Tigellinus explains that, yes, the Stoic philosophers sometimes kill themselves, but that they're just ridiculous people.
    • Herod agrees; it's ridiculous to kill yourself. Tigellinus continues, saying that everyone in Rome laughs at the Stoics, and that the Emperor has even written a satire making fun of them.
    • Herod eats this up; he loves Caesar. Still, he's peeved by the Syrian's suicide; he's sorry to hear that he's killed himself. He recalls the Syrian being very attractive, and that he often looked longingly at Salomé…perhaps too longingly.
    • Herodias says that she knows some others who look too longingly at Salomé. Hint hint.
    • Herod tells them that the Syrian's father was a king, a king that he, Herod, deposed; his mother became Herodias' slave, and the Syrian himself became Herod's guest.
    • After going on a bit longer, he tells the soldiers to remove the body. Isn't it windy here? he says.
    • No, it's not windy at all, Herodias says.
    • Herod insists that it's windy; he even hears something that sounds like the "beating of vast wings" (171).
    • Herodias tells him that it's nothing, that he must be ill, and asks him to go back inside.
    • Herod tells her that he's not the one that's ill; Salomé is the one who looks pale and sick.
    • Herodias tells Herod to stop looking at Salomé.
    • Herod calls Salomé over and asks her to have some wine; she tells him she's not thirsty. When he asks her to have some fruit, she says she's not hungry.
    • Herod accuses Herodias of bringing her daughter up poorly. Herodias tells Herod she and her daughter come from royal stock and that he was the son of a camel driver. They squabble.
    • Herod tells Salomé to come sit next to him.
    • Jokanaan cries out. "That which I foretold," he says, "has come to pass" (211).
    • Herodias tells Herod to shut Jokanaan up. Herod tells her that he is a great prophet, and that he has done nothing against her.
    • Herodias says that she doesn't believe in prophets. Men can't tell the future, she says. Also, he insults her all the time. She doesn't like that. She accuses Herod of being afraid of Jokanaan.
    • Herod tells her he isn't.
    • Then why haven't you turned him over to the Jews, she asks, who have been "clamouring for him?" (216).
    • A Jew confirms that, yeah, he and his people think it would be best if they had custody of Jokanaan.
    • Herod tells them to quiet down; he's already made his decision and he's sticking to it. Anyway, he's a kind man, a man "who has seen God" (218).
    • The Jew isn't so sure about that. No man, he says, has seen God since the prophet Elias. These days God doesn't show himself, he says.
    • Another Jew comes over and adds that nobody really knows if Elias even saw God; heck, some people think he only saw God's shadow.
    • A third Jew comes over and says his piece. God, he thinks, is never hidden, is in fact always showing himself everywhere.
    • A fourth Jew says that kind of talk is dangerous, based on Greek thought—and the Greeks aren't circumcised, let alone Jewish.
    • A fifth Jew comes over and says, well, nobody knows how God works. Nobody knows what's evil or good; no one knows anything at all really, except that God is strong, and that he has power over every man, strong and weak.
    • The first Jew agrees: God is terrible, terribly strong. But no man has seen God, he adds, not since the prophet Elias.
    • Herodias tells Herod to make them all shut up.
    • Herod tells them that he has heard that Jokanaan really is Elias.
    • The Jew says, no way, the prophet Elias was around 300 years ago.
    • Yes, Herod says, but there are some who claim he's the prophet Elias.
    • A Nazarene—a guy from the town of Nazareth—comes over. He's sure Jokanaan is the prophet Elias.
    • Jokanaan cries out again: the day of the Lord is at hand, he says. "I heard upon the mountains," he says, "the feet of Him who shall be the Saviour of the world" (231).
    • Herod doesn't understand the meaning of the phrase "Saviour of the world."
    • Tigellinus tells him that Caesar uses that title.
    • Herod is confused. He hasn't heard anything about Caesar coming to Judæa, either by letter or from Tigellinus.
    • Tigellinus has no answers.
    • Herod is still confused. Caesar is too gouty to come all the way to Judæa; and he can't leave Rome if he wants to stay in power. As much as he'd like to see Caesar, there's no way he's coming to visit.
    • The Nazarene tells them that Jokanaan isn't talking about Caesar. Herod is still confused. The Nazarene explains that Jokanaan is talking about the Messiah.
    • The Messiah hasn't come, says a Jew. Yes he has, says, the Nazarene, and he's been working miracles.
    • Herodias scoffs at him. She doesn't believe in miracles. She asks her page to bring her fan.
    • The Nazarene claims to have seen some first hand. He's heard that the Messiah turned water into wine at a wedding in Galilee, and that he healed two lepers in Capernaum.
    • Another Nazarene says he heard it was two blind people he cured, not lepers. He's done both, says the first Nazarene, and he's talked with angels on a mountaintop.
    • Angels don't exist, says a Sadducee—a man belonging to a particular sect of Judaism.
    • Angels do exist, says a Pharisees—the Pharisees and the Sadducees didn't agree about most things—but there's no way this "Messiah" has spoken to them.
    • The first Nazarene claims that a bunch of people have seen Him talking with angels.
    • Herodias is overwhelmed by all this talk of miracles. The page brings the fan. Herodias hits her because she has a "dreamer's look" (251). Only sick people dream, she says.
    • The Nazarenes talk of another miracle: the resurrection of Jairus' daughter. Herod is appalled by this. He forbids this Messiah from doing that. He doesn't want anybody raising the dead. He asks to know where this Man is at the moment.
    • "He is in every place, my lord," says the second Nazarene, "but it is hard to find Him" (261). The first Nazarene has heard he's in Samaria.
    • A Jew takes this to mean that this Messiah isn't the real deal, since the Samaritans aren't Jewish, and the real Messiah wouldn't have anything to do with them.
    • The second Nazarene says he's heard that the Messiah has left Samaria and is now somewhere around Jerusalem. No, says the first Nazarene, He's definitely not there—the Nazarene has just come from Jerusalem.
    • Herod tells them to stop arguing. He just wants somebody to find Him and tell Him to stop raising the dead; he's fine with all the other miracles, but raising the dead is definitely not okay.
    • Jokanaan cries out again. This time he curses "the wanton one! The harlot! […] the daughter of Babylon with her golden eyes and her gilded eyelids" (266).
    • Herodias tells Herod to make Jokanaan shut up.
    • Jokanaan cries out again. "Let the captains of the hosts pierce her with their swords," he says, "let them crush her beneath their shields" (268).
    • Herodias is shocked and appalled. Jokanaan continues to call for her bloody death, but Herod doesn't do anything. He hasn't said your name, he tells Herodias.
    • I'm your wife, Herodias says, and shouldn't you defend your wife? Herod agrees this is true. Didn't you steal me from your brother? asks Herodias.
    • Yes, that's true, says Herod, but he'd rather not talk about it. He changes the subject: we're ignoring our guests, he says; why don't you fill my cup? He makes a toast to Caesar.
    • Hey, Herod says, isn't Salomé looking pale?
    • So what? says Herodias.
    • I've never seen her looking so pale, says Herod.
    • Stop looking at her, Herodias says.
    • Jokanaan cries out again. That day—when "that day" is, he doesn't say—the sun will turn black and the moon will turn the color of blood and the stars will fall from the sky like "unripe figs" and "the kings of the earth will be afraid" (282).
    • I'd like to see that day, says, Herodias, but I really can't stand all his yelling. She tells Herod to shut him up.
    • Herod won't shut up. He thinks maybe what Jokanaan is saying is an omen.
    • Herodias doesn't believe in omens. She thinks he sounds drunk.
    • Maybe he's drunk on the wine of God, Herod says.
    • What does that mean? Herodias asks.
    • Herod turns to Tigellinus and asks him a question—but forgets what he wants to ask halfway through. He's looking at Salomé again.
    • Herodias tells him to stop staring.
    • He asks no one in particular about the Restoration of the Temple—the Temple being the center of Jewish worship in Jerusalem. He's heard that the veil of the sanctuary—which the Jews use to cover their Torah scrolls—has been stolen.
    • You were the one that had it stolen, says Herodias.
  • Section 5

    • Herod asks Salomé to dance for him.
    • Salomé tells him she won't dance.
    • Herodias makes fun of Herod. Herod brushes it off. He's totally happy regardless.
    • The first soldier remarks that Herod has a "sombre look" (305). The second soldier agrees.
    • Herod starts talking to himself, reassuring himself that he's happy, that Caesar loves him. He loves him so much that he's going to crucify the King of Cappadocia, an enemy of his.
    • Jokanaan cries out again. This time he speaks of a king sitting on throne holding a "golden cup full of his blasphemies" (308). He will be struck down by the angel of the Lord, he says, and worms will eat him.
    • Listen to the terrible things he's saying about you, Herodias tells Herod.
    • He's not talking about me, Herod says. He's definitely talking about the King of Cappadocia, my enemy. Jokanaan never says anything bad about me, he says, except for the time he said I sinned by taking my brother's wife…but he was probably right about that. Also, he says to Herodias, you're sterile.
    • Herodias reminds him that she's had a child, and that he has never fathered one. You, she tells him, are the sterile one.
    • Herod tells her to shut up. If I say you're sterile, he tells her, you're sterile. Anyway, he continues, Jokanaan said that our marriage is incestuous, and that it would lead to evil things. Still, he insists that he's happy.
    • Herodias suggests that they go inside, seeing as it's late. We have a hunt in the morning, she reminds him.
    • The soldiers remark that Herod has a somber look.
    • Herod asks Salomé to dance for him. He's sad, he's slipped in blood—a really bad omen—he's heard the beating of giant wings. So he's sad, and he wants Salomé to cheer him up by dancing. If you dance, he tells her, I'll give her anything you want.
    • Salomé perks up at this. Anything I want, she says?
    • Herodias tells her not to dance.
    • Yes, Herod tells Salomé, anything.
    • Really? asks Salomé.
    • Yes, swears Herod.
    • Herodias tells her not to dance.
    • By what will you swear? Salomé asks.
    • "By my crown, by my gods," he tells her (324). I'll give you anything, he says, even half my kingdom, if you'll dance.
    • You've sworn an oath now, she tells Herod.
    • Yes, he says.
    • Herodias tells her not to dance.
    • Herod tells Salomé she'll make a good queen—if she wants to be one. Once again, he hears the beating of wings and feels an icy wind. He thinks there might be an invisible bird. Suddenly he begins to feel cold, then burning hot. He asks for snow to eat and for his cape to be removed. Then, suddenly, he feels the garland of roses he wears around his head burning him. He asks for it to be removed.
    • This is not sounding too hopeful.
    • He throws the garland from his head. He notes that the roses are red like blood…but he quickly changes the subject. He's happy, after all. He asks Salomé to dance for him.
    • Herodias won't allow her to dance.
    • Salomé tells Herod that she'll dance for him.
    • Look at that, Herod says to Herodias, your daughter's going to dance for me. He promises to give her whatever she wants.
    • Salomé reminds him that he's sworn to it.
    • Herod tells her that he's never broken his word. The King of Cappadocia, on the other hand, is a liar and a coward and owes Herod money. He deserves to be crucified, Herod says.
    • He asks Salomé what's taking so long.
    • Salomé tells him that she's waiting for her servants to bring perfume and the veils and to take her sandals off.
    • The servants appear with the perfume and the veils. They take off Salomé's sandals.
    • Herod is excited to see that Salomé will be dancing with her sandals off, so that he might see her feet, which look like doves, or like little white flowers.
    • Suddenly he realizes that she's going to dance in the blood. He forbids her to dance in the blood—it's a bad omen.
    • What do you care, Salomé asks, if I dance on the blood? After all, you've stepped in it.
    • Suddenly, Herod sees the moon. It's turned blood red, just like Jokanaan said it would. See, he tells everyone, it happened just like he said it would.
    • Oh yes, sure, Herodias says, and the stars are falling like unripe figs, and the sun has turned black. She tells him to go inside before word gets out that he's gone mad. Clearly she's not buying it.
    • Jokanaan cries out again. "Who is this," he asks, "who cometh from Edom, who is this who cometh from Bozra, whose raiment is dyed with purple, who shineth in the beauty of his garments, who walketh mighty in his greatness? Wherefore is thy raiment stained with scarlet?" (340).
    • Herodias can't stand to listen to Jokanaan. She wants to go inside. She insists that Salomé not dance.
    • Herod tells her to sit down. He refuses to go in until Salomé dances.
    • Herodias tells Salomé not to dance.
    • Salomé dances the Dance of the Seven Veils.
  • Section 6

    • Herod is delighted to see her dance. He asks her to come over so that she might be given her "fee." He asks her to tell him what she wants.
    • "I would that they presently bring me in a silver charger [a platter]," she begins (345).
    • Herod laughs, she thinks her request is cute. He tells her to go on and finish her request.
    • "The head of Jokanaan," she says (347).
    • Herodias approves of her choice.
    • Herod is shocked. "No, no!" he shouts (349).
    • Again, Herodias compliments her daughter on her choice.
    • No, Herod insists, that's not what you want. You're mother is giving you bad advice, he says.
    • Salomé insists that she's not taking her mother's advice. She simply desires Jokanaan's head. She reminds Herod that he has sworn an oath.
    • Yes, he says, but he prays that she reconsider, that she ask for something else. Like not a head.
    • She wants the head of Jokanaan.
    • Herod refuses.
    • Salomé reminds him that he's sworn an oath.
    • Yes, Herodias says, and everyone heard you swear it.
    • Herod tells her to shut up.
    • Herodias continues to praise her daughter. Only a truly loving daughter would do something like that. After all, Jokanaan was constantly insulting her. Don't cave, she tells Salomé; he's sworn an oath.
    • Herod tells her to shut up. He begs Salomé to change her dang mind. He doesn't understand why she would want something so gruesome as the head of Jokanaan. He offers her an emerald, the largest emerald in the whole world.
    • She demands the head of Jokanaan.
    • Herod tries to talk sense into Salomé.
    • Once again, she demands the head of Jokanaan.
    • Herod's losing his cool. He decides that she's doing it to get back at him, to punish him for looking at her. He promises not to look at her anymore. Nothing, he says, should be looked at, except in mirrors, because "mirrors only show masks" (364).
    • He asks for wine. He asks Salomé to be his friend. He promises to give her his beautiful white peacocks, the most wonderful birds in the world.
    • Nope. She demands the head of Jokanaan.
    • Herod promises Salomé all sorts of jewels—amethysts, topazes, opals, onyxes, moonstones, sapphires, chrysolites, beryles, chryosprases…the list goes on and on.
    • He promises her fans and a garment made of ostrich feather and glass-incrusted sandals. He promises to give her the mantle of the high priest and the veil of the sanctuary, if only she'll spare Jokanaan.
    • Those last two offers frighten the Jews.
    • Salomé wants the head of Jokanaan.
    • Finally, Herod relents. He gives the order for Jokanaan to be beheaded. He gives the ring of death to the soldier, who gives it to the Executioner. Herod continues to lose his cool. He can't believe he gave his oath. Whether he keeps it or not, it leads to bad things.
    • Herodias is pleased with Salomé.
    • Herod is sure something bad is going to happen.
  • Section 7

    • Salomé leans over the cistern and listens. She wonders why Jokanaan does not cry out. If anyone tried to kill me, she says, I would cry out and struggle.
    • Something falls to the ground. She worries that Naaman the executioner is too scared to kill Jokanaan. She orders the soldiers to go down and bring her the head.
    • The arm of the Executioner comes out from the cistern bearing the head of Jokanaan on a silver platter.
    • Salomé grabs it.
    • Herod hides his face with his cloak (373).
    • Herodias smiles and fans herself (373).
    • The Nazarenes fall to their knees and begin to pray (373).
    • Salomé addresses the head. She taunts him: even though you wouldn't let me kiss your mouth, she says; now I will. "I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit" (373).
    • Whoa. Whoa.
    • She thinks Jokanaan is looking at her funny. Are you afraid of me? she says. You rejected me, she says. Well, she says, now I'm alive and you're dead, and I can do what I want with you.
    • Whoa this is messed up.
    • She tells him how much she loved him. How he was beautiful. How his body was like a column of ivory, like a garden full of doves and lilies of silver. How black his hair was, how red his mouth, how wonderful his voice was.
    • She asks him why he never looked at her, why he could see God but never saw her. If you had seen me, she says, you would have loved me. I still love you, she says. I still want your body, she says. I was a princess, virgin, she says, and still you would have nothing to do with me. "I was chaste," she says, "but thou didst fill my veins with fire" (373).
    • Herod is super creeped out. He calls Salomé monstrous (yes, we agree). He is sure she's committed a crime, a "crime against an unknown God" (374).
    • Herodias is pleased with Salomé.
    • Herod rises. He can't stand to stay. He instructs his servants to put out the torches. He doesn't want to look at things or to be looked at. He wants to hide himself away in his palace.
    • The torches are put out. The stage goes dark. Herod begins to climb the stairs to his palace.
    • In the darkness, we hear the voice of Salomé. "I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan," she says. "There was a bitter taste on my lips. Was it the taste of blood?…Nay; but perchance it was the taste of love…They say that love hath a bitter taste. But what matter? What matter? I have kissed thy mouth" (377).
    • Ugh! Make it stop! Make it stop!
    • Herod orders his soldiers to kill Salomé. They "rush forward and crush Salomé beneath their shields" (378).