The Salome theme, or just "Salome," as the narrative has come to be named by gestures motivated by more than mere
efforts at shorthand, is said to originate in the Gospels and then reemerge in the nineteenth century, appropriated by European
Decadence as a representative myth of eroticism, taboo, and transgression.
Intertextuality means that texts exist in cultural and aesthetic contexts alongside other texts. They influence one another
and often refer to one another overtly, this being a particular characteristic of postmodernist writing. In fact, all language
is itself intertextual , since language always pre-exists the speaker : words and meanings are always second-hand in some
In Christian mythology, Salome was the daughter of Herodias and stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee in Palestine.
Her infamy comes from causing St. John the Baptist's execution. The saint had condemned the marriage of Herodias and Herod
Antipas, as Herodias was the divorced wife of Antipas's half brother Philip. Incensed, Herod imprisoned John, but feared to
have the well-known prophet killed. Herodias, however, was not mollified by John's incarceration and pressed her daughter
Salome to "seduce" her stepfather Herod with a dance, making him promise to give her whatever she wished. At her
mother's behest, Salome thus asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Unwillingly, Herod did her bidding, and
Salome brought the platter to her mother. However, Oscar Wilde's verson of Salome was not based on the biblical version.
Wilde wrote Salome in French in 1891, but the play was not produced for five years. In 1892, rehearsals for the play's first
planned production began, but they were stopped when the licenser of plays for the Lord Chamberlain, the British government
official in charge of theater censorship, banned Salome, ostensibly because of an old law forbidding the depiction of Biblical
characters onstage but probably also because of the play's focus on sexual passion. Wilde was so upset by Salome's censorship
that he threatened to leave England and live in France, where he would be granted more artistic freedom.
Wilde's version of Salome depicts her as a seductress of her stepfather and a murderer of a saint, thereby becoming a
symbol of the erotic and dangerous woman, the femme fatale.