Salomé according to Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde wrote ‘Salomé’ in 1891, in French, during his Parisian sojourn.

It is told that one evening, after conversing on the representations of Salomé throughout history, he returned to his hotel to notice a blank copybook lying on the desk, and it occurred to him to write down what he had been saying. He wrote a new play that way, ‘Salomé’, then, rapidly and in French.

A tragedy, Salomé is based on the stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, and on the choice we know from the holy Gospel, to request the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils. It is important to affirm that Wilde did a quiet “sensual” elaboration of the Gospel because, according to the original story, Herodias, Salomé’s mother, asked her the head of the prophet to revenge of what he publicly said against her and her behaviour. Wilde imagined Salomé fascinated by the look, the hair, the mouth of the prophet and eagerly willing his head to kiss it. Moreover, the dialogue between Love and Death is an important reading key of the Victorian literature, of what the Irish novelist and poet was an important exponent.
And it is to note that the dance was enormously appreciated by Herod, spite of mother’s opinion; on the opposite, the request for the head of Jokanaan made her stepfather’s disappointment and her mother’s delight.

When Wilde moved back to London, just before Christmas, the newspaper Paris Echo referred to ‘Salomé’ as “the great event” of the season. The rehearsals of the play, in which Sarah Bernhardt was involved as the star, began but Lord Chamberlain refused the license because of the depicted biblical characters. ‘Salomé’ was published jointly in Paris and London in 1893, but was not performed in Paris until 1896, during Wilde’s later incarceration, and was translated into English by an Oscar’s friend.

The characters of this tragedy are Herod Antipas (Tetrarch of Judea), Iokanaan (the Baptist, also known indeed for baptizing Jesus Christ), a young Syrian (captain of the soldiers), Tigellinus (a young Roman), a Cappadocian, a Nubian, a Nubian slave, the executioner, the two soldiers, Herodias (Tetrarch’s wife), Salomé, and her slaves.

First scene starts in a large terrace into the Herod’s building, near to the fest room. Some soldiers are on the balcony, and there is an enormous stair on the right. At the left, there is an old tank surrounded by a wall in green bronze. Moonbeam. The young Syrian starts to dialogue with Herod’s page. They speak of the beauty of the princess Salomé; better, the young Syrian affirms that the princess is very beautiful, and the page says that the moon looks strange, as a woman just exiting from a tomb, like a dead woman looking for dead people. Syrian thinks that Salomé seems a little princess with a yellow veil, and silver feet, similar to white doves… you could say she is dancing… (These images seem to be taken from the holy Bible, precisely from the Canticle of Canticles, where it is easy to find this sort of descriptions).

Since in the fest hall there is noise, a soldier wonders what kind of people is that noise coming from, and another one answers that they are debating on religion. It is normal and it happens almost every day; Pharisees say that angels exist, Sadducees do not agree, and think that angels do not exist at all.

Young Syrian starts again to admire Salomé’s beauty, also noting she is pale, and Herod’s page says he looks at her too much, and to give such an attention toward people of that social class may be dangerous, or cause a disgrace. Soldiers see Herod’s look dark and ask each other for the reason, no one knows. While Herodias pours Herod a drink, soldiers and a Cappadocian speak of three qualities of wine Herod possesses, one from Cyprus, one from Samothrace and another one from Sicily.

A Nubian chap says the gods of his country are thirsty of young people’s blood (and it seems to be a sort of literacy comparison between the red of the wine and the red of blood); the Cappadocian responds that in his country Romans have drove away their divinities and now are on the mountains, although he does not believe so because he has also tried to call them by name, without success, and he is now allowed to think they are dead. Jews adore an invisible God, a soldier says, but Cappadocian thinks it is ridiculous to believe in things it is not possible to see.

Coup de scène! Iokanaan’s voice appears out the blue and, like in the Gospel (he was the vox clamantis in deserto, wasnt’ he?), says:

“Apres moi viendra un autre encore plus puissant que moi. Je ne suis pas digne même de délier la courroie de ses sandales. Quand il viendra la terre déserte se réjouira. Elle fleurira comme le lis. Les yeux des aveugles verront le jour, et les oreilles des sourds seront ouvertes . . .

Le nouveau-né mettra sa main sur le nid des dragons, et mènera les lions par leurs crinières”.

“After me, another person, more powerful than me, will come, and I am not worthy of untie his sandals’ belt! When he will arrive, the desert will delight and will flower like lilies. Eyes of blind people will be able to see the light of the sun; deaf ears will be opened… 

Newborn will put his hands in the nest of the Dragons and will drive the lions by taking them for their manes!”

A soldier would like to shout Iokanaan; another one thinks he is a saint, a very sweet person, and a true prophet. Every day he feeds him, and thanks him. He is the famous Iokanaan; he used to live in the desert having only grasshoppers and wild honey for food, dressed in a camel skin, with a leather belt around. He is a person of charisma; many people listen to him, he has some disciples indeed.

The Syrian and the soldier speak again of Salomé’s beauty, which could be dangerous to look at, whereas Cappadocian gets more information from the soldiers: Iokanaan is difficult to understand and the Tetrarch does not permit to see him. The prison he is kept into is a tank, where Herod’s brother, first husband of Herodias, had been imprisoned for twelve years and was finally strangled by the executioner, a huge Negro called Naaman (Oscar Wilde had to speak of an executioner in the ‘Ballad of the Reading Gaol’, since there was a person who was assigned the task of strangling the condemned people).

Another coup de scène! Salomé leaves the fest hall and comes near to the soldiers. Talking to the Syrian, she confides to be not able to stay in the sight of the tetrarch, who watches at her with mole eyes and trembling eyelids. She is quite fed up with the fest, full of ridiculous Leaders of Jerusalem, Egyptians, Grecians, and Romans. Furthermore, she hates Romans; they are common people and give gentlemen’s air. Moon, by the way, is fine to be seen, it seems a little coin, a little silver flower, cold and chaste like a virgin never soiled or tarnished by anyone, never given the men, like other goddesses. Iokanaan speaks for the second time, now using mythological categories:

“Il est venu, le Seigneur! Il est venu, le fils de l’Homme. Les centaures se sont cachées dans les rivières, et les sirènes ont quitté les rivières et couchent sous les feuilles dans les forets”. “Our Lord has come! The Son of the Man! Centaurs have hidden themselves into the rivers, and mermaids left the rivers and are now beneath the leaves, in the forests!”

Salomé asks the soldier who is that man who screams, and learns that he is the prophet that the Tetrarch is afraid of. She also asks if that is the man who says monstrosities about her mother, but the soldiers answer they do not understand never what she is talking about. Then, Salomé is informed that Iokanaan is not an old man; on the opposite, he is young, maybe the prophet Elias.

And Iokanaan shouts again:

Ne te réjouis point, terre de Palestine, parce que la verge de celui qui te frappait a été briseé. Car de la race du serpent il sortira un basilic, et ce qui en naîtra dévorera les oiseaux. “Do not rejoice at all, Palestine, because the virgin of that man who humiliated you has been broken! Because from the race of the snake a basilisk will be born, and who will be born will eat the birds!”

Salomé wants to know the screaming man and, although the soldiers and the slaves ask her to come back to the fest as in Herod’s will, also being impossible to see the prophet. Salomé orders the young Syrian Narraboth to discover the cover of the well Iokanaan is put inside (she uses the female weapons of a femme fatale, promising she will have a look at him for a while, and will be smiling at him through the veils.

Finally, Iokanaan is driven out of the tank, and starts to speak again:

Où est celui dont la coupe d’abominations est déjà pleine? Où est celui qui en robe d’argent mourra un jour devant tout le peuple? Dites-lui de venir afin qu’il puisse entendre la voix de celui qui a crié dans les déserts et dans les palais des rois. Où est celle qui s’est abandonnée aux capitaines des Assyriens, qui ont des baudriers sur les reins, et sur la tête des tiares de différentes couleurs? Où est celle qui s’est abandonnée aux jeunes hommes d’Egypte qui sont vêtus de lin et d’hyacinthe, et portent des boucliers d’or et des casques d’argent, et qui ont de grand corps? Dites-lui de se lever de la couche de son impudicité, de sa couche incestueuse, afin qu’elle puisse entendre les paroles de celui qui prépare la voie du Seigneur; afin qu’elle se repente de ses pêches. Quoiqu’elle ne se repentira jamais, mais restera dans ses abominations, dites-lui de venir, car le Seigneur a son fléau dans la main. “Where is that one whose abomination cup is already full? Where is that man who will die in silver clothes in front of the people? Tell him to come, in order that he could hear the voice of that who has shouted in the desert and in the royal building! Where is that woman who has some men painted on the wall, coloured images of Chaldeans, has let the concupiscence of her eyes drive her, sending some ambassadors in Chaldea?  Where is that one who has given way to the Assyrian captains? Where is that one who has given way to Egyptians young men, dressed in linen and hyacinth, wearing golden shields and helmets in gold, and have large bodies? Tell her to take out the layer of impudicity and incestuous she has, so that she could understand the worlds of that one who prepares Our Lord’s path and could repent for her sins! Although she will never repent and will keep in her abominations, tell her to come, because Our Lord has got the scourge in his hand!”

Salomé understand he spoke of her mother; anyway she is touched from his look: his eyes are terrible, similar to black holes left by the fire on a tapestry from Tyr, black caves where dragons live, black lakes moved by whimsical moons. He is so thin! Seems an ivory flimsy image, a silver flimsy image, he must be chaste, the same way of the moon. Similar to a silver ray, his flesh is to be very cold, like ivory.

Iokanaan realizes Salomé is looking at him and wonders who she is, having golden eyelids and gold eyes. He does not want to know, she must to go away, and she is not that one he wants to speak to.

Salomé, on the opposite, reveals Iokanaan to be the princess of Judea, daughter of Herodias. Iokanaan rejects her, calling her “daughter of Babylon”, which almost meant “daughter of the sin”,

Arrière! Fille de Babylone! N’approchez pas de l’élu du Seigneur.

Ta mère a rempli la terre du vin de ses iniquités, et le cri de ses pêches est arrive aux oreilles de Dieu.

“Go away, daughter of Babylon! Do not approach the Lord’s chosen.

 Thy mother hath filled the earth with the wine of her iniquities,and the cry of its fisheries is happening to God’s ears!”

She answers: “Speak again, Jokanaan. Your voice intoxicates me” and he keeps in his resisting conduct to keep her away, calling her “daughter of Sodom”, remembering the well-known town that, in the Genesis, had been destroyed by God for the iniquity of its habitants. “Cover your face with a veil, and scatter ashes on your head, and go into the desert looking for the son of Man!” he continues.

Now Salomé starts to demonstrate what she feels for Iokanaan; she asks the prophet if the Son of Man who is going to arrive is as handsome as he is and, after new refusals, affirms to love his look:

Iokanaan! Je suis amoureuse de ton corps. Ton corps est blanc comme le lis d’un pré que le faucheur n’a jamais fauché. Ton corps est blanc comme les neiges qui couchent sur les montagnes, comme les neiges qui couchent sur les montagnes de Judée, et descendent dans les vallées.

Les roses du jardin de la reine d’Arabie ne sont pas aussi blanches que ton corps. Ni les roses du jardin de la reine d’Arabie, ni les pieds de l’aurore qui trépignent sur les feuilles, ni le sein de la lune quand elle couche sur le sein de la mer . . . Il n’y a rien au monde d’aussi blanc que ton corps. –

-Laisse-moi toucher ton corps!

“Iokanaan! I love your body. Thy body is white like the lilies of a field that the mower hath never mowed.

Thy body is white like the snows that lie on the mountains, like the snows that lie on the mountains of Judea, and down into the valleys.

The roses in the garden of the Queen of Arabia are not as white as thy body. Neither the roses in the garden of the Queen of Arabia, nor the feet of the dawn stomp on the leaves, neither the breast of the moon when she lies on the breast of the sea… 

There is nothing in the world as white as thy body. – Let me touch your body!”

Perhaps this is the most important milestone in the tragedy, a sort of reading key: Salomé passes from an initial curiosity to a different step, that one of love and sensual attraction, and confides so to the object of her desire.

Iokanaan refuses again, for the third time (Rear daughter of Babylon! This is the woman that evil is in the world. Do not talk to me. I do not want to listen. I only listen to the words of the Lord God!) and now Salomé pretends she has changed mind, and strongly denigrates what she declared to love a few seconds before:

“Thy body is hideous. It is like the body of a leper. It is like a plaster wall or vipers have crawled like a plaster wall or scorpions have made their nest. It is like a whited sepulcher, which is full of disgusting things. It is horrible, horrible it is your body!”

But there is something, however, which deserves her attention yet and that she celebrates with typical biblical connotations:

“C’est de tes cheveux que je suis amoureuse, Iokanaan. Tes cheveux ressemblent à des grappes de raisins, à des grappes de raisins noirs qui pendent des vignes d’Edom dans le pays des Edomites. Tes cheveux sont comme les cèdres du Liban, comme les grands cèdres du Liban qui donnent de l’ombre aux lions et aux voleurs qui veulent se cacher pendant la journée. Les longues nuits noires, les nuits ou la lune ne se montre pas, où les étoiles ont peur, ne sont pas aussi noires. Le silence qui demeure dans les forets n’est pas aussi noir. Il n’y a rien au monde d’aussi noir que tes cheveux . . . Laisse-moi toucher tes cheveux”. “It’s your hair that I am in love with, Iokanaan. Your hair is like clusters of grapes, bunches of black grapes hanging from vines in the country of Edomites. Your hair is like the cedars of Lebanon, like the great cedars of Lebanon that give their shade to the lions and to the robbers who would hide during the day. The long dark nights, nights when the moon does not show up, or the stars are afraid, are not as black. The silence that dwells in the forests is not as black. There is nothing in the world as black as thy hair. . . Let me touch your hair!”

He rejects her again; she must not desecrate the temple of the Lord God. And Salomé pretends she has changed mind on Iokanaan’s hair too: 

“Tes cheveux sont horribles. Ils sont couverts de boue et de poussière. On dirait une couronne d’épines qu’on a placée sur ton front. On dirait un nœud de serpents noirs qui se tortillent autour de ton cou. Je n’aime pas tes cheveux . . . “ Thy hair is horrible. They are covered with mud and dust. Looks like a crown of thorns placed on thy head. Looks like a knot of serpents coiled round your neck. I do not like your hair. . .”


C’est de ta bouche que je suis amoureuse, Iokanaan. Ta bouche est comme une bande d’écarlate sur une tour d’ivoire. Elle est comme une pomme de grenade coupée par un couteau d’ivoire. Les fleurs de grenade qui fleurissent dans les jardins de Tyr et sont plus rouges que les roses, ne sont pas aussi rouges. Les cris rouges des trompettes qui annoncent l’arrivée des rois, et font peur a l’ennemi ne sont pas

aussi rouges. Ta bouche est plus rouge que les pieds de ceux qui foulent le vin dans les pressoirs. Elle est plus rouge que les pieds des colombes qui demeurent dans les temples et sont nourries par les prêtres. Elle est plus rouge que les pieds de celui qui revient d’une foret ou il a tue un lion et vu des tigres dores.

Ta bouche est comme une branche de corail que des pêcheurs ont trouvée dans le crépuscule de la mer et qu’ils réservent pour les rois . . . ! Elle est comme le vermillon que les Moabites trouvent dans les mines de Moab et que les rois leur prennent. Elle est comme l’arc du roi des Perses qui est peint avec du vermillon et qui a des cornes de corail.

Il n’y a rien au monde d’aussi rouge que ta bouche . . . laisse-moi baiser ta bouche.

“It is thy mouth that I desire, Iokanaan. Thy mouth is like a band of scarlet on a tower of ivory. It is like a pomegranate cut in twain with a knife of ivory.

The pomegranate flowers that bloom in the gardens of Tyre, and are redder than roses, are not so red.

The red blasts of trumpets that announce the arrival of the kings, and make afraid the enemy has not so red.

Thy mouth is redder than the feet of those who tread the wine in the presses. It is redder than the feet of the doves that inhabit the temples and are fed by the priests. It is redder than the feet of him who cometh from a forest where he kills a lion …

Thy mouth is like a branch of coral that fishers have found in the twilight of the sea and they keep for the kings . . . It is like the vermilion that the Moabites find in the mines of Moab and the kings take from them. It is like the bow of the King of the Persians, which is painted with vermilion, and is tipped to coral. There is nothing in the world so red as thy mouth . . . let me kiss thy mouth!”

Iokanaan, nevertheless, refuses her again, while she tries to kiss him, although the young Syrian too begs her to stop with looking at him, he cannot endure such a sight. Finally, he commits suicide and falls between Salome and Jokanaan. The page of Herodias is desperate to have lost such an important friend, whom he had given many perfumes and earring made of silver, and declares to have foreseen so as a result of the strange look of the moon, which seemed seeking a dead man.

Iokanaan says Salomé to be careful, because he “had heard in the palace the beating of wings of the angel of death”, but she continues in her approach. He has a word only, and has already said it. Our lord is going to arrive and she will have to   bow down at his feet and ask forgiveness for her peaches.

HEROD comes into the scene, in the search of Salomé, who has not come back to fest like he had ordered. He also thinks that the moon has a strange look, “like a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers”. Moreover, “She is naked too. She is naked. The clouds are seeking to clothe, but it does not. She reels through the clouds like a drunken woman…”

Herodias would like to go away from the terrace but Herod, on the opposite, evaluates the air as delicious; he wants to stay and orders the servants to put the carpet, to light the torches, to bring the ivory tables, and the tables of jasper.

Herod is about to slip in the blood, and it looks a very bad omen; then, he finds the corpse of the young Syrian and asks who is. He is surprised he is the young Syrian captain, because he had not ordered him to kill himself; it is also strange because it is more usual that roman philosophers commit suicide, i.e. Stoics, Tigellinus suggests.

Anyway, Herod is sorry, very sorry, also because the young Syrian was very handsome, with “very languorous eyes”.

Out of the blue, Herod feels something in the air like a flutter, like the beating of gigantic wings; Herodias does not hear anything.

Maybe the wind… Then, Herod says Herodias that Salomé looks very sick, very pale, he has never seen her so pale, and invites her to drink a little wine and to have some fruits, for he loves to see in a fruit the mark of thy little teeth.

Salomé is not hungry and her mother defends her because they come from a royal family and are not camel or thief like Herod’s father was. Then, Herod invites Salomé to sit near him, and she refuses saying she is not tired.

Iokanaan shouts again, like he has previously done. Herodias asks Herod to make him silent; she does not want to hear his voice, which continuously affronts her.

Herod starts a dialogue with some Jews, on the possibility to deliver Iokanaan; Herod thinks the prophet has seen God but Jews think not, because no one can see God and no one did since the time of Elias: “By this time, God does not show. He hides. And therefore there are great misfortunes in the country”.

Some Jews debate on the possibility that Elias could have seen God or God’s shadow, if God hides or not himself, if He is in everything, if His way are to be mysterious or if He is both in evil as in good (“an idea that comes from the schools of Alexandria and taught Greek philosophy. And Greeks are Gentiles. They are not circumcised”).

Herod asks the Jews if Iokanaan can be the prophet Elias; some say it is not possible, a Nazarene says it is.

Iokanaan screams again about the “Saviour of the world”, and they wonder each other what does that title mean, considering that they usually use it for Caesar.

A Nazarene explains Iokanaan refers not to Caesar, but to the Messiah, who performs miracles everywhere. Some Nazarenes debate on the miracle made by Jesus in Galilee, in Capernaum, somewhere else, with lepers and blind men, and that He had been seen speaking with the angels.

Herodias thinks they are stupid and that annoy her. Jews now speak of the daughter of Jairus, resurrected by Jesus, and Herod says he does not want He do that: “I defend him to do this. I do not allow that raises the dead. We must seek this man and tell him that I do not allow him to raise the dead”. Whenever he is, in Samaria, in Jerusalem or anywhere else, and whoever He is, the Messiah or not, He is to be found and told Herod does not allow him “to raise the dead. Change water into wine, healing the lepers and the blind . . . he can do all this if he wants. I have nothing to say against it. In fact, I find that to cure lepers is a good action. However,I do not allow that raises the dead… It would be terrible if the dead came back”.

Abruptly, the voice of Iokanaan list again Herodias’ depravities and sins, and she asks Herod to make him stop. Herod answers he did not say her name but she remembers her husband who she is and the rights she actually has.

When Herod says she has started out being the wife of his brother, she answer it has been he who has pulled out of his arms. Herod does not walk about it: “I do not want to talk about it. It is because of this that the prophet has spoken words of terror. Perhaps because of it misfortune will happen”.

Now Herod recalls Herodias how Salomé is pale, and to have never seen her so pale.

Iokanaan again:

En ce jour-la le soleil deviendra noir comme un sac de poil, et la lune deviendra comme du sang, et les étoiles du ciel tomberont sur la terre comme les figues vertes tombent d’un figuier, et les rois de la terre auront peur. In that day, the sun will become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood, and the stars of heaven shall fall upon the earth like green figs falling from a fig tree, and the kings of the earth shall fear.

Herodias laughs, affirms that the prophet must be drunk… anyway, she cannot suffer his voice and asks again Herod to make him silent, without Herod does. The tetrarch affirms if Iokanaan is drunk, he is drunk of the wine of God and Herodias does not understand what Herod means; however, she asks him not to look at her daughter.

Now the most important step of the drama: Herod demands Salomé to dance for him. Initially, she refuses and repeats to have no desire to do it.

Some other worlds between Herod, Herodias and the soldiers, on Caesar and on the darkness that is now arrived. Herod asks Salomé to dance for him for the third time, for he is sad tonight: he has slipped into the blood and it is a bad omen, and he is sure he has heard a flapping of wings in the air, of a meaning difficult to comprehend. Finally, he promises as recompense everything she wants. He swears on his life, on his crown, by his gods: anything Salomé will ask, he will give her, even the half of the kingdom, if she dances for him. Herodias continuously recommends her daughter not to dance but Salomé, after such enormous promises, even to became a queen, accepts: “I dance for you, Tetrarch (…) I expect my slaves bring perfumes and the seven veils, and deprive me of my sandals”. Herod is glad Salomé will be dancing barefoot but also notes the moon become red, red as the blood, like the prophet had foreseen. Herodias, on her own, notes the stars are falling like unripe figs and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the kings of the earth are afraid. She would not like Salomé dance while Iokanaan is screaming and, finally, she does not want her dance at all.

Salomé, finally, is ready and does the dance of seven veils. Herod enthusiastically enjoys the show, and eventually asks Salomé to come closer, in order to listen to her as best as possible, and she could require what her hearth desires from him.

Salomé wants a silver basin, and Herod laughs. The Tetrarch of Judea now asks what Salomé wants inside the basin.

And Salomé answers: “THE HEAD OF IOKANAAN!”

Herodias, having finally understood how astute had been her daughter, is quite in favour. Herod, on the contrary, begs the princess to ask something else, to not listen to her mother, to ask even the half of the kingdom, everything but what she has actually demanded.

Salomé repeats to want the head of the prophet, Herodias says she is right because of the insults he has given her, but Herod tries to change the princess’ mind: “Salomé, I have always loved you, I loved you too much. Anyway, do not ask me so! It is horrible, dreadful to ask so. By the way, I do not believe you were serious. The head of a decapitated man is an ugly thing, it is not? It is not a thing a virgin should look at. What pleasure could ever bring to you? No one! No, you do not want that thing… Listen to me, please. I have an emerald, a great emerald…” Herod tries to change the request of Salomé, by offering a wonderful emerald, loved by Caesar, thanks to what it is possible to see the thing at an immense distance (Caesar indeed brings one similar when he goes to the circus games, but Herod’s emerald is even bigger, it is the biggest in the world). Then, he also tries with another gift, his white peacocks, which walk into the garden and have beaks in gold and feet in purple (there are not in the world birds so magnificent, no king can have like these ones).    

Salomé is irremovable; she just wants the head of Iokanaan. Herod invites Salomé to evaluate what she wants: that man is sent by God, he is a saint and God put in his mouth terrible words! Furthermore, he has slipped into the blood and has heard a gigantic movement of wings… They are horrible omen!

Salomé still asks the head of Iokanaan. Herod tries again with precious presents: jewels, collier of pearls, amethysts, selenite, topazes, opals, onyx, sapphires, chrysolites, rubies, and many, many other precious stones. Finally, he comes to promise the veil of the Holy Sanctuary in Jerusalem (and the Jews say Ohhhhh…). Salomé approaches herself to the tank and does not hear anything; no noise comes now from the prison. She asks Naaman to knock but… a moment… something has fallen… it must be the sword of the executioner, what a coward! He has left his word having not the courage to kill the prophet. Salomé ask the page of Herod and the soldiers: they are to bring the silver basin with the head of Iokanaan. Tetrarch is to command so. In conclusion, the black arm of Naaman brings the head on a silver shield.   Nazarenes fall on their knees and pray.

Salomé speaks to the decapitated Iokanaan:

Ah! tu n’as pas voulu me laisser baiser ta bouche, Iokanaan. Eh bien! je la baiserai maintenant. Je la mordrai avec mes dents comme on mord un fruit mur. Mais pourquoi ne me regardes-tu pas, Iokanaan? Tes yeux qui étaient si terribles, qui étaient si pleins de colère et de mépris, ils sont fermes maintenant. (…) Si tu m’avais regardée tu m’aurais aimée  “Uh! You did not let me kiss your mouth, Iokanaan. Well! I will kiss it now! I will bite with my teeth the same way I bite a fruit. Yeah, I will kiss your mouth, Iokanaan. I told you so, didn’t I? (…) Why do not you look at me, Iokanaan? Your eyes, that were so terrible, that were so full of anger and disdain, are now shut. (…) If you had looked at me, Iokanaan, you had loved me! (…)” 

Herod considers Salomé’s behaviours as a horrible depravation, and a terrible crime, a crime against an invisible God.

Herodias, on the opposite, approves her and wants to stay there.

Herod is almost sure that a disgrace is going to arrive; he asks the servant to switch off the torches, to hide the moon and the stars. He wants himself and Herodias hide themselves in their building, since he starts to be afraid.

Slaves switch the torches off; stars disappear: a huge black cloud passes across the moon and hide it completely. The entire scene becomes dark and Herod starts with climbing the stairs.

We can hear the voice of Salomé, still speaking to Iokanaan:

Ah! J’ai baisé ta bouche, Iokanaan, j’ai baisé ta bouche. Il y avait une acre saveur sur tes lèvres Était-ce la saveur du sang? . . . Mais, être est-ce la saveur de l’amour. On dit que l’amour a une acre saveur . . . Mais, qu’importe? Qu’importe? J’ai baise ta bouche, Iokanaan, j’ai baise ta bouche.

“I kissed your mouth, Iokanaan, I kissed your mouth. There was a bitter flavour on your lips, was it the taste of the blood? No, it must be the flavor of the love. They say love has a bitter flavour… who cares of? I kissed your mouth, Iokanaan, I kissed your mouth »

A moon ray falls on Salomé and lights her. Herod comes back and commands to kill that woman.

Soldiers take a run up and crush with their shields Salomé, daughter of Herodias, and princess of Judea.

Oscar Wilde' Salome

Oscar Wilde’s Salome

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