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Full text of "Salome : a tragedy in one act"

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University of California • Berkeley 

FROM THE ESTATE OF 
GEORGE JAFFE 



SALOME 



SALOME 

A TRAGEDY IN ONE ACT : TRANS- 
LATED FROM THE FRENCH OF 
OSCAR WILDE, WITH SIXTEEN 
DRAWINGS BY AUBREY BEARDSLEY 



LONDON : JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD 
NEW YORK : JOHN LANE COMPANY, MCMVII 



THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY. 

HEROD ANTIPAS, Tetrarch of Judaea. 

JOKANAAN, The Prophet. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN, Captain of the Guard, 

TIGELLINUS, A Young Roman. 

A CAPPADOCIAN. 

A NUBIAN. 

FIRST SOLDIER. 

SECOND SOLDIER. 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS. 

JEWS, NAZARENES, Etc. 

A SLAVE. 

NAAMAN, The Executioner. 

HERODIAS, Wife of the Tetrarch. 

SALOME, Daughter of Herodias. 

THE SLAVES OF SALOME. 



A NOTE ON "SALOME." 

"QALOME" has made the author's name a 
^ household word wherever the English lan- 
guage is not spoken. Few English plays 
have such a peculiar history. Written in French in 
1892 it was in full rehearsal by Madame Bernhardt 
at the Palace Theatre when it was prohibited by 
the Censor. Oscar Wilde immediately announced 
his intention of changing his nationality, a charac- 
teristic jest, which was only taken seriously, oddly 
enough, in Ireland. The interference of the Censor 
has seldom been more popular or more heartily 
endorsed by English critics. On its publication in 
book form " Salome " was greeted by a chorus of 
ridicule, and it may be noted in passing that at 
least two of the more violent reviews were from the 
pens of unsuccessful dramatists, while all those 
whose French never went beyond Ollendorff were 
glad to find in that venerable school classic an un- 
suspected asset in their education — a handy 
missile with which to pelt " Salome " and its author. 
The correctness of the French was, of course, 
impugned, although the scrip had been passed by a 
distinguished French writer, to whom I have heard 
the whole work attributed. The Times, while 
depreciating the drama, gave its author credit for a 

xiii 



tour deforce, in being capable of writing a French 
play for Madame Bernhardt, and this drew from 
him the following letter: — 

The Times, Thursday, March 2, 1893, p. 4. 
Mr. Oscar Wilde on "Salome." 

To the Editor of The Times. 

SIR, My attention has been drawn to a review 
of " Salome " which was published in your columns 
last week. The opinions of English critics on a 
French work of mine have, of course, little, if any, 
interest for me. I write simply to ask you to allow 
me to correct a misstatement that appears in the 
review in question. 

The fact that the greatest tragic actress of any 
stage now living saw in my play such beauty that 
she was anxious to produce it, to take herself the 
part of the heroine, to lend to the entire poem the 
glamour of her personality, and to my prose the 
music of her flute-like voice — this was naturally, 
and always will be, a source of pride and pleasure 
to me, and I look forward with delight to seeing 
Mme. Bernhardt present my play in Paris, that 
vivid centre of art, where religious dramas are often 
performed. But my play was in no sense of the 
words written for this great actress. I have never 
written a play for any actor or actress, nor shall I 
ever do so. Such work is for the artisan in litera- 
ture — not for the artist. 

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant, 

Oscar Wilde. 

xiv 



When " Salome " was translated into English by 
Lord Alfred Douglas, the illustrator, Aubrey 
Beardsley, shared some of the obloquy heaped on 
Wilde. It is interesting that he should have found 
inspiration for his finest work in a play he never 
admired and by a writer he cordially disliked. The 
motives are, of course, made to his hand, and never 
was there a more suitable material for that odd 
tangent art in which there are no tactile values. 
The amusing caricatures of Wilde which appear in 
the Frontispiece, " Enter Herodias " and " The Eyes 
of Herod," are the only pieces of vraisemblance in 
these exquisite designs. The colophon is a real 
masterpiece and a witty criticism of the play as 
well. 

On the production of " Salome " by the New 
Stage Club in May, 1905, 1 the dramatic critics 
again expressed themselves vehemently, vociferat- 
ing their regrets that the play had been dragged 
from its obscurity. The obscure drama, however, 
had become for five years past part of the 
literature of Europe. It is performed regularly or 
intermittently in Holland, Sweden, Italy, France, 
and Russia, and it has been translated into every 
European language, including the Czech. It forms 

1 A more recent performance of "Salome" (1906), by the 
Literary Theatre Club, has again produced an ebullition of rancour 
and deliberate misrepresentation on the part of the dramatic critics, 
the majority of whom are anxious to parade their ignorance of the 
continental stage. The production was remarkable on account of 
the beautiful dresses and mounting, for which Mr. Charles Ricketts 
was responsible, and the marvellous impersonation of Herod by 
Mr. Robert Farquharson. Wilde used to say that "Salome" was a 
mirror in which everyone could see himself. The artist, art ; the dull, 
dulness ; the vulgar, vulgarity. 



part of the repertoire of the German stage, where 
it is performed more often than any play by any 
English writer except Shakespeare. Owing, per- 
haps, to what I must call its obscure popularity in 
the continental theatres, Dr. Strauss was preparing 
his remarkable opera at the very moment when 
there appeared the criticisms to which I refer, and 
since the production of the opera in Dresden in 
December, 1905, English musical journalists and 
correspondents always refer to the work as founded 
on Wilde's drama. That is the only way in which 
they can evade an awkward truth — a palpable 
contravention to their own wishes and theories. 
The music, however, has been set to the actual 
words of "Salome" in Madame Hedwig Lachmann's 
admirable translation. The words have not been 
transfigured into ordinary operatic nonsense to 
suit the score, or the susceptibilities of the 
English people. I observe that admirers of Dr. 
Strauss are a little mortified that the great master 
should have found an occasion for composition in a 
play which they long ago consigned to oblivion 
and the shambles of Aubrey Beardsley. Wilde 
himself, in a rhetorical period, seems to have con- 
templated the possibility of his prose drama for a 
musical theme. In " De Profundis" he says : "The 
refrains, whose recurring motifs make ' Salome ' so 
like a piece of music, and bind it together as a 
ballad." 

He was still incarcerated in 1896, when Mons. 
Luigne Poe produced the play for the first time at 
the Theatre Libre in Paris, with Lina Muntz in the 
title role. A rather pathetic reference to this occa- 



XVI 



sion occurs in a letter Wilde wrote to me from 
Reading : — 

" Please say how gratified I was at the perform- 
ance of my play, and have my thanks conveyed to 
Luigne Poe. It is something that at a time of 
disgrace and shame I should still be regarded as an 
artist. I wish I could feel more pleasure, but I seem 
dead to all emotions except those of anguish and 
despair. However, please let Luigne Poe know 
that I am sensible of the honour he has done me. 
He is a poet himself. Write to me in answer to 
this, and try and see what Lemaitre, Bauer, and 
Sarcey said of ' Salome.' " 

The bias of personal friendship precludes me 
from praising qr defending " Salome," even if 
it were necessary to do so. Nothing I might 
say would add to the reputation of its detractors. 
Its sources are obvious ; particularly Flaubert 
and Maeterlinck, in whose peculiar and original 
style it is an essay. A critic, for whom I 
have a greater regard than many of his con- 
temporaries, says that " Salome " is only a cata- 
logue ; but a catalogue can be intensely dramatic, 
as we know when the performance takes place at 
Christie's ; few plays are more exciting than an 
auction in King Street when the stars are fighting 
for Sisera. 

It has been remarked that Wilde confuses Herod 
the Great (Mat. xi. i), Herod Antipas (Mat. 
xiv. 3), and Herod Agrippa (Acts xiii), but the con- 
fusion is intentional, as in mediaeval mystery plays 
Herod is taken for a type, not an historical character, 
and the criticism is about as valuable as that of 



XVll 



people who laboriously point out the anachronisms 
in Beardsley's designs. With reference to the 
charge of plagiarism brought against "Salome" 
and its author, I venture to mention a personal 
recollection. 

Wilde complained to me one day that someone 
in a well-known novel had stolen an idea of his. I 
pleaded in defence of the culprit that Wilde him- 
self was a fearless literary thief. " My dear fellow," 
he said, with his usual drawling emphasis, "when I 
see a monstrous tulip with four wonderful petals in 
someone else's garden, I am impelled to grow a 
monstrous tulip with five wonderful petals, but that 
is no reason why someone should grow a tulip with 
only three petals." That WAS OSCAR WILDE. 

Robert Ross. 



















LIST OF THE PICTURES 






BY AUBREY BEARDSLEY. 

i. THE WOMAN IN THE MOON. 

2. TITLE PAGE. 

3. COVER DESIGN. 

4. LIST OF THE PICTURES. 

5. THE PEACOCK SKIRT. 

6. THE BLACK CAPE. 




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7. A PLATONIC LAMENT. 


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8. JOHN AND SALOME. 




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9. ENTER HERODIAS. 






10. THE EYES OF HEROD. 

11. THE STOMACH DANCE. 

12. THE TOILETTE OF SALOME.—I. 

13. THE TOILETTE OF SALOME.— II. 

14. THE DANCER'S REWARD. 




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15. THE CLIMAX. 






16. CUL DE LAMPE. 








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SALOME 



Cast of the Performance of <{ Salome*," represented 
in England for the first time. 

NEW STAGE CLUB. 

"SALOME," 

By OSCAR WILDE. 

May 10th and 13th, 1905. 

A Young Syrian Captain 

Mr HERBERT ALEXANDER. 
Page of Herodias Mrs. GWENDOLEN BISHOP. 
First Soldier - - Mr. CHARLES GEE. 
Second Soldier - Mr. RALPH DE ROHAN. 
Cappadocian - - Mr. CHARLES DALMON. 
Jokanaan - - - - Mr. VINCENT NELLO. 
Naaman, the Executioner 

Mr. W. EVELYN OSBORN. 
Salome - - - - Miss MILLICENT MURBY. 

Slave Miss CARRIE KEITH. 

Herod Mr. ROBERT FARQUHARSON. 

Herodias - - - - Miss LOUISE SALOM. 
Tigellinus - - - Mr. C. L. DELPH. 
Slave ----- Miss STANSFELD. 
First Jew - - - Mr. F. STANLEY SMITH. 
Second Jew - - - Mr. BERNHARD SMITH. 
Third Jew - - - Mr. JOHN BATE. 
Fourth Jew - - - STEPHEN BAGEHOT 
Fifth Jew - - - FREDERICK LAWRENCE. 

Scene - THE GREAT TERRACE OUTSIDE THE PALACE. 



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Scene. — A great terrace in the Palace of Herod, 
set above the banqueting-hall. Some soldiers are 
leaning over the balcony. To the right there is a 
gigantic staircase, to the left, at the back, an old 
cistern surrounded by a wall of green bronze. 
Moonlight. 



THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

How beautiful is the Princess Salome to-night ! 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

Look at the moon ! How strange the moon 
seems ! She is like a woman rising from a tomb. 
She is like a dead woman. You would fancy she 
was looking for dead things. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

She has a strange look. She is like a little 
princess who wears a yellow veil, and whose feet 
are of silver. She is like a princess who has 
little white doves for feet. You would fancy she 
was dancing. 



THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

She is like a woman who is dead. She moves 
very slowly. 

[Noise in the banqueting-halQ 

FIRST SOLDIER 

What an uproar ! Who are those wild beasts 
howling ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

The Jews. They are always like that. They 
are disputing about their religion. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Why do they dispute about their religion ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

I cannot tell. They are always doing it. The 
Pharisees, for instance, say that there are angels, 
and the Sadducees declare that angels do not 
exist. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

I think it is ridiculous to dispute about such 
things. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

How beautiful is the Princess Salome to-night ! 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

You are always looking at her. You look at 
her too much. It is dangerous to look at people 
in such fashion. Something terrible may happen. 



THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

She is very beautiful to-night. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

The Tetrarch has a sombre look. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Yes ; he has a sombre look. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

He is looking at something. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

He is looking at some one. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

At whom is he looking ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 
I cannot tell. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

How pale the Princess is ! Never have I seen 
her so pale. She is like the shadow of a white 
rose in a mirror of silver. 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

You must not look at her. You look too much 
at her. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Herodias has filled the cup of the Tetrarch. 
3 »3 



THE CAPPADOCIAN 

Is that the Queen Herodias, she who wears a 
black mitre sewn with pearls, and whose hair is 
powdered with blue dust ? 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Yes ; that is Herodias, the Tetrarch's wife. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

The Tetrarch is very fond of wine. He has 
wine of three sorts. One which is brought from 
the Island of Samothrace, and is purple like the 
cloak of Caesar. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

I have never seen Caesar. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Another that comes from a town called Cyprus, 
and is yellow like gold. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
I love gold. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

And the third is a wine of Sicily. That wine is 
red like blood. 

THE NUBIAN 

The gods of my country are very fond of blood. 
Twice in the year we sacrifice to them young men 

4 



and maidens ; fifty young men and a hundred 
maidens. But it seems we never give them quite 
enough, for they are very harsh to us. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

In my country there are no gods left. The 
Romans have driven them out. There are some 
who say that they have hidden themselves in the 
mountains, but I do not believe it. Three nights 
I have been on the mountains seeking them 
everywhere. I did not find them. And at last 
I called them by their names, and they did not 
come. I think they are dead. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

The Jews worship a God that you cannot see. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

I cannot understand that. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

In fact, they only believe in things that you 
cannot see. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

That seems to me altogether ridiculous. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

After me shall come another mightier than I. 
I am not worthy so much as to unloose the 
latchet of his shoes. When he cometh, the soli- 



tary places shall be glad. They shall blossom 
like the lily. The eyes of the blind shall see the 
day, and the ears of the deaf shall be opened. 
The new-born child shall put his hand upon the 
dragon's lair, he shall lead the lions by their 
manes. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Make him be silent. He is always saying 
ridiculous things. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

No, no. He is a holy man. He is very 
gentle, too. Every day, when I give him to eat 
he thanks me. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
Who is he ? 

FIRST SOLDIER 
A prophet 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
What is his name ? 

FIRST SOLDIER 
Jokanaan. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

Whence comes he ? 

6 



FIRST SOLDIER 

From the desert, where he fed on locusts and 
wild honey. He was clothed in camel's hair, and 
round his loins he had a leathern belt. He was 
very terrible to look upon. A great multitude 
used to follow him. He even had disciples. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

What is he talking of ? 

* 

FIRST SOLDIER 

We can never tell. Sometimes he says ter- 
rible things, but it is impossible to understand 
what he says. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
May one see him ? 

FIRST SOLDIER . . 

No. The Tetrarch has forbidden it. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

The Princess has hidden her face behind her 
fan ! Her little white hands are fluttering like 
doves that fly to their dove-cots. They are like 
white butterflies. They are just like white butter- 
flies. 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

What is that to you ? Why do you look at 
her? You must not look at her. 
Something terrible may happen. 



The CappAdoCian 

[Pointing to the cistern^ 
What a strange prison ! 

SECOND SOLDIER 
It is an old cistern. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

An old cistern ! It must be very unhealthy. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Oh no! For instance, the Tetrarch's brother, 
his elder brother, the first husband of Herodias 
the Queen, was imprisoned there for twelve years. 
It did not kill him. At the end of the twelve 
years he had to be strangled. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

Strangled ? Who dared to do that ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

{Pointing to the Executioner, a huge Negro.] 
That man yonder, Naaman. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
He was not afraid ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Oh no ! The Tetrarch sent him the ring. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
What ring ? 

8 



SECOND SOLDIER 

The death-ring. So he was not afraid. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 

Yet it is a terrible thing to strangle a king. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Why? Kings have but one neck, like other 
folk. 

THE CAPPADOCIAN 
I think it terrible. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

The Princess rises ! She is leaving the table ! 
She looks very troubled. Ah, she is coming 
this way. Yes, she is coming towards us. 
How pale she is ! Never have I seen her so pale. 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

Do not look at her. I pray you not to look 
at her. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

She is like a dove that has strayed. . . . 
She is like a narcissus trembling in the wind. 
. . . . She is like a silver flower. 

[Enter Salome".] 

SALOME 

I will not stay. I cannot stay. Why does the 
Tetrarch look at me all the while with his mole's 
eyes under his shaking eyelids ? It is strange 

9 



that the husband of my mother looks at me like 
that. I know not what it means. In truth, yes, 
I know it. 

THE. YOUNG SYRIAN 

You have just left the feast, Princess ? 

SALOME 

How sweet the air is here ! I can breathe 
here ! Within there are Jews from Jerusalem 
who are tearing each other in pieces over their 
foolish ceremonies, and barbarians who drink 
and drink, and spill their wine on the pavement, 
and Greeks from Smyrna with painted eyes and 
painted cheeks, and frizzed hair curled in twisted 
coils, and silent, subtle Egyptians, with long nails 
of jade and russett cloaks, and Romans brutal 
and coarse, with their uncouth jargon. Ah! 
how I loathe the Romans! They are rough and 
common, and they give themselves the airs of 
noble lords. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Will you be seated, Princess ? 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

Why do you speak to her ? Why do you look 
at her ? Oh ! something terrible will happen. 

SALOME 

How good to see the moon ! She is like a 
little piece of money, you would think she was a 

10 



little silver flower. The moon is cold and chaste. 
I am sure she is a virgin, she has a virgin's beauty. 
Yes, she is a virgin. She has never defiled her- 
self. She has never abandoned herself to men, 
like the other goddesses. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

The Lord hath come. The son of man hath 
come. The centaurs have hidden themselves in 
the rivers, and the sirens have left the rivers, and 
are lying beneath the leaves of the forest. 

SALOME 

Who was that who cried out ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

The prophet, Princess. 

SALOME 

Ah, the prophet ! He of whom the Tetrarch 
is afraid ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

We know nothing of that, Princess. It was the 
prophet Jokanaan who cried out. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Is it your pleasure that I bid them bring your 
litter, Princess ? The night is fair in the garden. 

SALOME 

He says terrible things about my mother, does 
he not ? 

ii 



SECOND SOLDIER 

We never understand what he says, Princess. 

SALOM& 

Yes ; he says terrible things about her. 
\Enter a Slave.] 

THE SLAVE 

Princess, the Tetrarch prays you to return to 
the feast. 

SALOMfi 

I will not go back. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Pardon me, Princess, but if you do not return 
some misfortune may happen. 

SALOME 

Is he an old man, this prophet ? 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Princess, it were better to return. Suffer me 
to lead you in. 

SALOME 

This prophet . . . is he an old man ? 

FIRST SOLDIER 

No, Princess, he is quite a young man. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

You cannot be sure. There are those who say 
he is Elias. 

12 



SALOME 

Who is Elias ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

A very ancient prophet of this country, 
Princess. 

THE SLAVE 

What answer may I give the Tetrarch from the 
Princess ? 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

Rejoice not thou, land of Palestine, because the 
rod of him who smote thee is broken. For from 
the seed of the serpent shall come forth a basilisk, 
and that which is born of it shall devour the birds. 

SALOME 

What a strange voice ! I would speak with 
him. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

I fear it is impossible, Princess. The Tetrarch 
does not wish any one to speak with him. He 
has even forbidden the high priest to speak with 
him. 

SALOME 

I desire to speak with him. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

It is impossible, Princess. 
13 



SALOME 

I will speak with him. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Would it not be better to return to the banquet ? 

SALOME 

Bring forth this prophet. 

[Exit the slave] 

FIRST SOLDIER 

We dare not, Princess. 

SALOME 

{Approaching the cistern and looking down into 
it.] 

How black it is, down there ! It must be 
terrible to be in so black a pit ! It is like a tomb. 
. . . . [To the soldiers] Did you not hear 
me ? Bring out the prophet. I wish to see him. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Princess, I beg you do not require this of us. 

SALOME 

You keep me waiting! 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Princess, our lives belong to you, but we cannot 
do what you have asked of us. And indeed, it is 
not of us that you should ask this thing. 

H 



salome 

[Looking at the young Syrian] 
Ah! 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

Oh ! what is going to happen ? I am sure 
that some misfortune will happen. 

SALOME 

[Going up to the young Syrian] 

You will do this thing for me, will you not, 
Narraboth? You will do this thing for me. I 
have always been kind to you. You will do 
it for me. I would but look at this strange 
prophet. Men have talked so much of him. 
Often have I heard the Tetrarch talk of him. 
I think the Tetrarch is afraid of him. Are you, 
even you, also afraid of him, Narraboth ? 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

I fear him not, Princess ; there is no man I 
fear. But the Tetrarch has formally forbidden 
that any man should raise the cover of this well. 

SALOME 

You will do this thing for me, Narraboth, and 
to-morrow when I pass in my litter beneath the 
gateway of the idol-sellers I will let fall for you 
a little flower, a little green flower. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Princess, I cannot, I cannot. 
i5 



SALOME 

[Smiling.'] 

You will do this thing for me, Narraboth. 
You know that you will do this thing for me. 
And to-morrow when I pass in my litter by 
the bridge of the idol-buyers, I will look at you 
through the muslin veils, I will look at you, 
Narraboth, it may be I will smile at you. Look 
at me, Narraboth, look at me. Ah ! you know 
that you will do what I ask of you. You know 
it well. ... I know that you will do this 
thing. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

[Signing to the third soldier \] 
Let the prophet come forth. . . . The 
Princess Salome desires to see him. 

SALOME 

Ah! 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

Oh ! How strange the moon looks. You would 
think it was the hand of a dead woman who is 
seeking to cover herself with a shroud. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

She has a strange look ! She is like a little 
princess, whose eyes are eyes of amber. Through 
the clouds of muslin she is smiling like a little 
princess. 

[The prophet comes out of the cistern. Salome' 
looks at him and steps slowly frack.] 

16 



JOKANAAN 

Where is he whose cup of abominations is now 
full ? Where is he, who in a robe of silver shall 
one day die in the face of all the people ? Bid 
him come forth, that he may hear the voice of 
him who hath cried in the waste places and in 
the houses of kings. 

SALOME 

Of whom is he speaking ? 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

You can never tell, Princess. 

JOKANAAN 

Where is she who having seen the images of 
men painted on the walls, the images of the 
Chaldeans limned in colours, gave herself up unto 
the lust of her eyes, and sent ambassadors into 
Chaldea ? 

SALOME 

It is of my mother that he speaks. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Oh, no, Princess. 

SALOME 

Yes ; it is of my mother that he speaks. 

JOKANAAN 

Where is she who gave herself unto the Cap- 
tains of Assyria, who have baldricks on their 

17 c 



loins, and tiaras of divers colours on their 
heads ? Where is she who hath given herself 
to the young men of Egypt, who are clothed 
in fine linen and purple, whose shields are of 
gold, whose helmets are of silver, whose bodies 
are mighty ? Bid her rise up from the bed 
of her abominations, from the bed of her inces- 
tuousness, that she may hear the words of him 
who prepareth the way of the Lord, that she 
may repent her of her iniquities. Though she 
will never repent, but will stick fast in her abomina- 
tions ; bid her come, for the fan of the Lord is in 
His hand. 

SALOME 

But he is terrible, he is terrible ! 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Do not stay here, Princess, I beseech you. 

SALOME 

It is his eyes above all that are terrible. They 
are like black holes burned by torches in a Tyrian 
tapestry. They are like black caverns where 
dragons dwell. They are like the black caverns 
of Egypt in which the dragons make their lairs. 
They are like black lakes' troubled by fantastic 
moons. ... Do you think he will speak 
again ? 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Do not stay here, Princess. I pray you do not 
stay here. 

18 



salome 

How wasted he is ! He is like a thin ivory 
statue. He is like an image of silver. I am sure 
he is chaste as the moon is. He is like a moon- 
beam, like a shaft of silver. His flesh must be 
cool like ivory. I would look closer at him. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

No, no, Princess. 

SALOME 

I must look at him closer. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Princess ! Princess ! 

JOKANAAN 

Who is this woman who is looking at me ? 1 
will not have her look at me. Wherefore doth 
she look at me with her golden eyes, under her 
gilded eyelids ? I know not who she is. I do 
not wish to know who she is. Bid her begone. 
It is not to her that I would speak. 

SALOME 

I am Salome, daughter of Herodias, Princess 
of Judaea. 

JOKANAAN 

Back ! daughter of Babylon ! Come not near 
the chosen of the Lord. Thy mother hath filled 
the earth with the wine of her iniquities, and the 
cry of her sins hath come up to the ears of God. 

19 c 2 



SALOME 

Speak again, Jokanaan. Thy voice is wine 
to me. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Princess ! Princess ! Princess ! 

SALOME 

Speak again ! Speak again, Jokanaan, and tell 
me what I must do. 

JOKANAAN 

Daughter of Sodom, come not near me ! But 
cover thy face with a veil, and scatter ashes upon 
thine head, and get thee to the desert and seek 
out the Son of Man. 

SALOME 

Who is he, the Son of Man ? Is he as beautiful 
as thou art, Jokanaan ? 

JOKANAAN 

Get thee behind me ! I hear in the palace the 
beating of the wings of the angel of death. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Princess, I beseech thee to go within. 

JOKANAAN 

Angel of the Lord God, what dost thou here 
with thy sword ? Whom seekest thou in this foul 
palace ? The day of him who shall die in a robe 
of silver has not yet come. 

20 



SALOME 
Jokanaan ! 

JOKANAAN 

Who speaketh ? 

SALOMfi 

Jokanaan, I am amorous of thy 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 Judaea, and come 
down into the valleys. The roses in the garden 
of the Queen of Arabia are not so white as thy 
body. Neither the roses in the garden of the Queen 
of Arabia, the perfumed garden of spices of the 
Queen of Arabia, nor the feet of the dawn when 
they light on the leaves, nor the breast of the moon 
when she lies on the breast of the sea. . 
There is nothing in the world so white as thy body. 
Let me touch thy body. 

JOKANAAN 

Back ! daughter of Babylon ! By woman came 
evil into the world. Speak not to me. I will not 
listen to thee. I listen but to the voice of the 
Lord God. 

SALOME 

Thy body is hideous. It is like the body of a 
leper. It is like a plastered wall where vipers 
have crawled ; like a plastered wall where the 

21 



scorpions have made their nest. It is like a 
whitened sepulchre full of loathsome things. It 
is horrible, thy body is horrible. It is of thy 
hair that I am enamoured, Jokanaan. Thy hair is 
like clusters of grapes, like the clusters of black 
grapes that hang from the vine-trees of Edom in 
the land of the Edomites. Thy 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 themselves by day. 
The long black nights, when the moon hides 
her face, when the stars are afraid, are not so 
black. The silence that dwells in the forest is 
not so black. There is nothing in the world so 
black as thy hair. . . . Let me touch thy hair. 

JOKANAAN 

Back, daughter of Sodom ! Touch me not. 
Profane not the temple of the Lord God. 

SALOMfi 

Thy hair is horrible. It is covered with mire 
and dust. It is like a crown of thorns which 
they have placed on thy forehead. It is like 
a knot of black serpents writhing round thy 
neck. I love not thy hair. . . It is thy 

mouth that I desire, Jokanaan. Thy mouth 
is like a band of scarlet on a tower of ivory. 
It is like a pomegranate cut with a knife of 
ivory. The pomegranate-flowers that blossom in 
the gardens of Tyre, and are redder than roses, 
are not so red. The red blasts of trumpets that 
herald the approach of kings, and make afraid the 

22 



enemy, are not so red. Thy mouth is redder 
than the feet of those who tread the wine in 
the wine-press. Thy mouth is redder than 
the feet of the doves who haunt the temples 
and are fed by the priests. It is redder than 
the feet of him who cometh from a forest where 
he hath slain a lion, and seen gilded tigers. Thy 
mouth is like a branch of coral that fishers have 
found in the twilight of the sea, the coral that 
they keep for the kings ! ... It is like the 
vermilion that the Moabites find in the mines of 
Moab, the vermilion that the kings take from 
them. 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. . . . Let me kiss thy 
mouth. 

JOKANAAN 

Never ! daughter of Babylon ! Daughter of 
Sodom ! Never. 

SALOME 

I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. I will kiss 
thy mouth. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Princess, Princess, thou who art like a garden 
of myrrh, thou who art the dove of all doves, 
look not at this man, look not at him ! Do not 
speak such words to him. I cannot suffer them. 
. . . Princess, Princess, do not speak these things. 

23 



SALOME 

I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. 

THE YOUNG SYRIAN 

Ah ! [He kills himself and falls between Salome* 
and Jokanaan?^ 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

The young Syrian has slain himself! The 
young captain has slain himself! He has slain 
himself who was my friend ! I gave him a little 
box of perfumes and ear-rings wrought in silver, 
and now he has killed himself! Ah, did he not 
foretell that some misfortune would happen ? I, 
too, foretold it, and it has happened. Well I knew 
that the moon was seeking a dead thing, but I 
knew not that it was he whom she sought. Ah ! 
why did I not hide him from the moon ? If I 
had hidden him in a cavern she would not have 
seen him. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Princess, the young captain has just killed 
himself. 

SALOME 

Let me kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. 

JOKANAAN 

Art thou not afraid, daughter of Herodias ? 
Did I not tell thee that I had heard in the palace 
the beatings of the wings of the angel of death, 
and hath he not come, the angel of death ? 

24 



SALOME 

Let me kiss thy mouth. 

JOKANAAN 

Daughter of adultery, there is but one who can 
save thee, it is He of whom I spake. Go seek Him. 
He is in a boat on the sea of Galilee, and He 
talketh with His disciples. Kneel down on the 
shore of the sea, and call unto Him by His name. 
When He cometh to thee (and to all who call on 
Him He cometh), bow thyself at His feet and ask 
of Him the remission of thy sins. 

SALOME 

Let me kiss thy mouth. 

JOKANAAN 

Cursed be thou! daughter of an incestuous 
mother, be thou accursed ! 

SALOME 

I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. 

JOKANAAN 

I do no wish to look at thee. I will not look 
at thee, thou art accursed, Salome, thou art 
accursed. [He goes down into the cistern.] 

SALOME 

I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan ; I will kiss 
thy mouth. 

25 



FIRST SOLDIER 

We must bear away the body to another place. 
The Tetrarch does not care to see dead bodies, 
save the bodies of those whom he himself has 
slain. 

THE PAGE OF HERODIAS 

He was my brother, and nearer to me than a 
brother. I gave him a little box full of perfumes, 
and a ring of agate that he wore always on his 
hand. In the evening we used to walk by the 
river, among the almond trees, and he would tell 
me of the things of his country. He spake ever 
very low. The sound of his voice was like the 
sound of the flute, of a flute player. Also he 
much loved to gaze at himself in the river. I 
used to reproach him for that. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

You are right ; we must hide the body. The 
Tetrarch must not see it. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

The Tetrarch will not come to this place. He 
never comes on the terrace. He is too much 
afraid of the prophet. 

\Enter Herod, Herodias, and all the Court] 

HEROD 

Where is Salome ? Where is the Princess ? 
Why did she not return to the banquet as I com- 
manded her ? Ah ! there she is ! 

26 



HERODIAS 

You must not look at her! You are always 
looking at her ! 

HEROD 

The moon has a strange look to-night. Has 
she not a strange look ? She is like a mad woman, 
a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers. 
She is naked too. She is quite naked. The 
clouds are seeking to clothe her nakedness, but 
she will not let them. She shows herself naked 
in the sky. She reels through the clouds like a 
drunken woman. ... I am sure she is 
looking for lovers. Does she not reel like a 
drunken woman ? She is like a mad woman, is 
she not ? 

HERODIAS 

No ; the moon is like the moon, that is all. 
Let us go within. . . . You have nothing to 
do here. 

HEROD 

I will stay here ! Manesseh, lay carpets there. 
Light torches, bring forth the ivory tables, and the 
tables of jasper. The air here is delicious. I will 
drink more wine with my guests. We must show 
all honours to the ambassadors of Caesar. 

HERODIAS 

It is not because of them that you remain. 
27 



HEROD 

Yes ; the air is delicious. Come, Herodias, our 
guests await us. Ah ! I have slipped ! I have 
slipped in blood ! It is an ill omen. It is a very 
evil omen. Wherefore is there blood here ? . 
and this body, what does this body here ? Think 
you I am like the King of Egypt, who gives no 
feast to his guests but that he shows them a corpse ? 
Whose is it ? I will not look on it. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

It is our captain, sire. He is the young Syrian 
whom you made captain only three days ago. 

HEROD 

I gave no order that he should be slain. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

He killed himself, sire. 

HEROD 

For what reason ? I had made him captain. 

SECOND SOLDIER 

We do not know, sire. But he killed himself. 

HEROD 

That seems strange to me. I thought it was 
only the Roman philosophers who killed them- 

28 



selves. Is it not true, Tigellinus, that the philo- 
sophers at Rome kill themselves ? 

TIGELLINUS 

There are some who kill themselves, sire. They 
are the Stoics. The Stoics are coarse people. 
They are ridiculous people. I myself regard 
them as being perfectly ridiculous. 

HEROD 

I also. It is ridiculous to kill oneself. 

TIGELLINUS 

Everybody at Rome laughs at them. The 
Emperor has written a satire against them. It is 
recited everywhere. 

HEROD 

Ah ! he has written a satire against them ? 
Caesar is wonderful. He can do everything. . . . 
It is strange that the young Syrian has killed him- 
self. I am sorry he has killed himself. I am very 
sorry ; for he was fair to look upon. He was 
even very fair. He had very languorous eyes. I 
remember that I saw that he looked languorously 
at Salome. Truly, I thought he looked too much 
at her. 

HERODIAS 

There are others who look at her too much. 
29 



HEROD 

His father was a king. I drove him from his 
kingdom. And you made a slave of his mother, 
who was a queen, Herodias. So he was here as 
my guest, as it were, and for that reason I made 
him my captain. I am sorry he is dead. Ho ! 
why have you left the body here ? I will not 
look at it — away with it ! \They take away the 
body.'] It is cold here. There is a wind blow- 
ing. Is there not a wind blowing ? 

HERODIAS 

No ; there is no wind. 

HEROD 

I tell you there is a wind that blows. . . . 
And I hear in the air something that is like the 
beating of wings, like the beating of vast wings. 
Do you not hear it ? 

HERODIAS 

I hear nothing. 

HEROD 

I hear it no longer. But I heard it. It was the 
blowing of the wind, no doubt. It has passed away. 
But no, I hear it again. Do you not hear it ? It is 
just like the beating of wings. 

HERODIAS 

I tell you there is nothing. You are ill. Let 
us go within. 

30 



HEROD 

I am not ill. It is your daughter who is sick. 
She has the mien of a sick person. Never have 
I seen her so pale. 

HERODIAS 

I have told you not to look at her. 

HEROD 

Pour me forth wine [wine is brought]. Salome, 
come drink a little wine with me. I have here a 
wine that is exquisite. Caesar himself sent it me. 
Dip into it thy little red lips, that I may drain the 
cup. 

SALOME 

I am not thirsty, Tetrarch. 

HEROD 

You hear how she answers me, this daughter of 
yours ? 

HERODIAS 

She does right. Why are you always gazing 
at her ? 

HEROD 

Bring me ripe fruits [fruits are brought], Salome, 
come and eat fruit with me. I love to see in a 
fruit the mark of thy little teeth. Bite but a little 
of this fruit and then I will eat what is left. 

3i 



SALOME 

I am not hungry, Tetrarch. 

HEROD 

[To Herodzas.] You see how you have brought 
up this daughter of yours. 

HERODIAS 

My daughter and I come of a royal race. As 
for thee, thy father was a camel driver ! He was 
also a robber ! 

HEROD 
Thou liest ! 

HERODIAS 

Thou knowest well that it is true. 

HEROD 

Salome, come and sit next to me. I will give 
thee the throne of thy mother. 

SALOME 

I am not tired, Tetrarch. 

HERODIAS 

You see what she thinks of you. 

HEROD 

Bring me — what is it that I desire ? I forget. 
Ah ! ah ! I remember. 

32 



THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

Lo ! the time is come ! That which I foretold 
has come to pass, saith the Lord God. Lo ! the 
day of which I spoke. 

HERODIAS 

Bid him be silent. I will not listen to his voice. 
This man is for ever vomiting insults against me. 

HEROD 

He has said nothing against you. Besides, he 
is a very great prophet. 

HERODIAS 

I do not believe in prophets. Can a man tell 
what will come to pass ? No man knows it. More- 
over, he is for ever insulting me. But. I think you 
are afraid of him. ... I know well that you are 
afraid of him. 

HEROD 

I am not afraid of him. I am afraid of no man. 

HERODIAS 

I tell you, you are afraid of him. If you are 
not afraid of him why do you not deliver him to 
the Jews, who for these six months past have been 
clamouring for him ? 

A JEW 

Truly, my lord, it were better to deliver him 
into our hands. 

33 r> 



HEROD 

Enough on this subject. I have already given 
you my answer. I will not deliver him into your 
hands. He is a holy man. He is a man who 
has seen God. 

A JEW 

That cannot be. There is no man who hath 
seen God since the prophet Elias. He is the last 
man who saw God. In these days God doth not 
show Himself. He hideth Himself. Therefore 
great evils have come upon the land. 

ANOTHER JEW 

Verily, no man knoweth if Elias the prophet 
did indeed see God. Peradventure it was but the 
shadow of God that he saw. 

A THIRD JEW 

God is at no time hidden. He showeth Him- 
self at all times and in everything. God is in what 
is evil even as He is in what is good. 

A FOURTH JEW 

That must not be said. It is a very dangerous 
doctrine. It is a doctrine that cometh from the 
schools at Alexandria, where men teach the 
philosophy of the Greeks. And the Greeks are 
Gentiles : They are not even circumcised. 

A FIFTH JEW 

No one can tell how God worketh. His ways 
are very mysterious. It may be that the things 

34 



which we call evil are good, and that the things 
which we call good are evil. There is no knowledge 
of any thing. We must needs submit to everything, 
for God is very strong. He breaketh in pieces 
the strong together with the weak, for He re- 
gardeth not any man. 

FIRST JEW 

Thou speaketh truly. God is terrible ; He 
breaketh the strong and the weak as a man brays 
corn in a mortar. But this man hath never seen 
God. No man hath seen God since the prophet 
Elias. 

HERODIAS 

Make them be silent. They weary me. 

HEROD 

But I have heard it said that Jokanaan himself 
is your prophet Elias. 

THE JEW 

That cannot be. It is more than three hundred 
years since the days of the prophet Elias. 

HEROD 

There be some who say that this man is the 
prophet Elias. 

A NAZARENE 

I am sure that he is the prophet Elias. 
35 d 2 



THE JEW 

Nay, but he is not the prophet Elias. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

So the day is come, the day of the Lord, and I 
hear upon the mountains the feet of Him who 
shall be the Saviour of the world. 

HEROD 

What does that mean ? The Saviour of the 
world. 

TIGELLINUS 

It is a title that Caesar takes. 

HEROD 

But Caesar is not coming into Judaea. Only 
yesterday I received letters from Rome. They 
contained nothing concerning this matter. And 
you, Tigellinus, who were at Rome during the 
winter, you heard nothing concerning this matter, 
did you ? 

TIGELLINUS 

Sire, I heard nothing concerning the matter. 
I was explaining the title. It is one of Caesar's 
titles. 

HEROD 

But Caesar cannot come. He is too gouty. 
They say that his feet are like the feet of an 
elephant. Also there are reasons of State. He 
who leaves Rome loses Rome. He will not 

36 



come. Howbeit, Caesar is lord, he will come if 
he wishes. Nevertheless, I do not think he will 
come. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

It was not concerning Caesar that the prophet 
spake these words, sire. 

HEROD 

Not of Caesar ? 

FIRST NAZARENE 

No, sire. 

HEROD 

Concerning whom then did he speak ? 

FIRST NAZARENE 

Concerning Messias who has come. 

A JEW 

Messiah hath not come. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

He hath come, and everywhere He worketh 
miracles. 

HERODIAS 

Ho ! ho ! miracles ! I do not believe in 
miracles. I have seen too many. [To the page.] 
My fan ! 

37 



FIRST NAZARENE 

This man worketh true miracles. Thus, at a 
marriage which took place in a little town of 
Galilee, a town of some importance, He changed 
water into wine. Certain persons who were pre- 
sent related it to me. Also He healed two lepers 
that were seated before the Gate of Capernaum 
simply by touching them. 

SECOND NAZARENE 

Nay, it was blind men that he healed at 
Capernaum. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

Nay ; they were lepers. But He hath healed 
blind people also, and He was seen on a mountain 
talking with angels. 

A SADDUCEE 

Angels do not exist. 

A PHARISEE 

Angels exist, but I do not believe that this Man 
has talked with them. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

He was seen by a great multitude of people 
talking with angels. 

A SADDUCEE 

Not with angels. 

38 



HERODIAS 



How these men weary me ! They are ridi- 
culous ! [To the page] Well ! my fan ! [The 
page gives her the fan] You have a dreamer's 
look ; you must not dream. It is only sick people 
who dream. [She strikes the page with her fan] 

SECOND NAZARENE 

There is also the miracle of the daughter of 
Jairus. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

Yes, that is sure. No man can gainsay it. 

HERODIAS 

These men are mad. They have looked too 
long on the moon. Command them to be silent. 

HEROD 

What is this miracle of the daughter of Jairus ? 

FIRST NAZARENE 

The daughter of Jairus was dead. He raised 
her from the dead. 

HEROD 

He raises the dead ? 

FIRST NAZARENE 

Yea, sire, He raiseth the dead. 
39 



HEROD 

I do not wish Him to do that. I forbid Him 
to do that. I allow no man to raise the dead. 
This Man must be found and told that I forbid 
Him to raise the dead. Where is this Man at 
present ? 

SECOND NAZARENE 

He is in every place, my lord, but it is hard to 
find Him. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

It is said that He is now in Samaria. 

A JEW 

It is easy to see that this is not Messias, if He 
is in Samaria. It is not to the Samaritans that 
Messias shall come. The Samaritans are accursed. 
They bring no offerings to the Temple. 

SECOND NAZARENE 

He left Samaria a few days since. I think that 
at the present moment He is in the neighbour- 
hood of Jerusalem. 

FIRST NAZARENE 

No ; He is not there. I have just come from 
Jerusalem. For two months they have had no 
tidings of Him. 

HEROD 

No matter! But let them find Him, and tell 
Him from me, I will not allow him to raise the 

40 



dead! To change water into wine, to heal the 
lepers and the blind. . . . He may do these things 
if He will. I say nothing against these things. 
In truth I hold it a good deed to heal a leper. 
But I allow no man to raise the dead. It would 
be terrible if the dead came back. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

Ah! the wanton! The harlot! Ah! the 
daughter of Babylon with her golden eyes and 
her gilded eyelids ! Thus saith the Lord God, 
Let there come up against her a multitude of 
men. Let the people take stones and stone 
her. 

HERODIAS 

Command him to be silent. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

Let the war captains pierce her with their swords, 
let them crush her beneath their shields. 

HERODIAS 

Nay, but it is infamous. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

It is thus that I will wipe out all wickedness 
from the earth, and that all women shall learn not 
to imitate her abominations. 

HERODIAS 

You hear what he says against me ? You allow 
him to revile your wife ? 

4i 



HEROD 

He did not speak your name. 

HERODIAS 

What does that matter ? You know well that it 
is I whom he seeks to revile. And I am your wife, 
am I not ? 

HEROD 

Of a truth, dear and noble Herodias, you are 
my wife, and before that you were the wife of my 
brother. 

HERODIAS 

It was you who tore me from his arms. 

HEROD 

Of a truth I was stronger. . . . But let us not 
talk of that matter. I do not desire to talk of it. 
It is the cause of the terrible words that the 
prophet has spoken. Peradventure on account of 
it a misfortune will come. Let us not speak of 
this matter. Noble Herodias, we are not mindful 
of our guests. Fill thou my cup, my well-beloved. 
Fill with wine the great goblets of silver, and the 
great goblets of glass. I will drink to Caesar. 
There are Romans here, we must drink to Caesar. 

ALL 

Caesar ! Caesar ! 

42 



HEROD 

Do you not see your daughter, how pale 
she is ? 

HERODIAS 

What is it to you if she be pale or not ? 

HEROD 
'Never have I seen her so pale. 

HERODIAS 

You must not look at her. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

In that day the sun shall become black like 
sackcloth of hair, and the moon shall become like 
blood, and the stars of the heavens shall fall upon 
the earth like ripe figs that fall from the fig-tree, 
and the kings of the earth shall be afraid. 

HERODIAS 

Ah ! Ah ! I should like to see that day of 
which he speaks, when the moon shall become 
like blood, and when the stars shall fall upon the 
earth like ripe figs. This prophet talks like a 
drunken man .... but I cannot suffer the 
sound of his voice. I hate his voice. Command 
him to be silent. 

HEROD 

I will not. I cannot understand what it is that 
he saith, but it may be an omen. 

43 



HERODIAS 

I do not believe in omens. He speaks like a 
drunken man. 

HEROD 

It may be he is drunk with the wine of God. 

HERODIAS 

What wine is that, the wine of God ? From 
what vineyards is it gathered ? In what wine- 
press may one find it ? 

HEROD 

[From this point he looks all the while at Salome*.] 
Tigellinus, when you were at Rome of late, did 

the Emperor speak with you on the subject 

of ... ? 

TIGELLINUS 

On what subject, sire ? 

HEROD 

On what subject? Ah! I asked you a ques- 
tion, did I not? I have forgotten what I would 
have asked you. 

HERODIAS 

You are looking again at my daughter. You 
must not look at her. I have already said so. 

HEROD 

You say nothing else. 

44 



HERODIAS 
I say it again. 

HEROD 

And that restoration of the Temple about which 
they have talked so much, will anything be done ? 
They say the veil of the Sanctuary has disappeared, 
do they not ? 

HERODIAS 

It was thyself didst steal it. Thou speakest at 
random. I will not stay here. Let us go within. 

HEROD 

Dance for me, Salome. 

HERODIAS 

I will not have her dance. 

SALOME 

I have no desire to dance, Tetrarch. 

HEROD 

Salome, daughter of Herodias, dance for me. 

HERODIAS 

Let her alone. 

HEROD 

I command thee to dance, Salome. 
45 



salome 

I will not dance, Tetrarch. 

HERODIAS 

\Laughing\. 

You see how she obeys you. 

HEROD 

What is it to me whether she dance or not ? 
It is naught to me. To-night I am happy, I am 
exceeding happy. Never have I been so happy. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

The Tetrarch has a sombre look. Has he not 
a sombre look ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

Yes, he has a sombre look. 

HEROD 

Wherefore should I not be happy ? Caesar, 
who is lord of the world, who is lord of all things, 
loves me well. He has just sent me most precious 
gifts. Also he has promised me to summon to 
Rome the King of Cappadocia, who is my enemy. 
It may be that at Rome he will crucify him, for he 
is able to do all things that he wishes. Verily, 
Caesar is lord. Thus you see I have a right to be 
happy. Indeed, I am happy. I have never been 
so happy. There is nothing in the world that can 
mar my happiness. 

46 



THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

He shall be seated on this throne. He shall be 
clothed in scarlet and purple. In his hand he 
shall bear a golden cup full of his blasphemies. 
And the angel of the Lord shall smite him. He 
shall be eaten of worms. 

HERODIAS 

You hear what he says about you. He says 
that you will be eaten of worms. 

HEROD 

It is not of me that he speaks. He speaks 
never against me. It is of the King of Cappa- 
docia that he speaks ; the King of Cappadocia, 
who is mine enemy. It is he who shall be eaten 
of worms. It is not I. Never has he spoken 
word against me, this prophet, save that I sinned 
in taking to wife the wife of my brother. It may 
be he is right. For, of a truth, you are sterile. 

HERODIAS 

I am sterile, I ? You say that, you that are 
ever looking at my daughter, you that would have 
her dance for your pleasure ? It is absurd to say 
that. I have borne a child. You have gotten no 
child, no, not even from one of your slaves. It 
is you who are sterile, not I. 

HEROD 

Peace, woman ! I say that you are sterile. 
You have borne me no child, and the prophet 

47 



says that our marriage is not a true marriage. 
He says that it is an incestuous marriage, a marriage 
that will bring evils. ... I fear he is right ; 
I am sure that he is right. But it is not the moment 
to speak of such things. I would be happy at 
this moment. Of a truth, I am happy. There is 
nothing I lack. 

HERODIAS 

I am glad you are of so fair a humour to-night. 
It is not your custom. But it is late. Let us go 
within. Do not forget that we hunt at sunrise. 
All honours must be shown to Caesar's ambassa- 
dors, must they not ? 

SECOND SOLDIER 

What a sombre look the Tetrarch wears. 

FIRST SOLDIER 

Yes, he wears a sombre look. 

HEROD 

Salome, Salome, dance for me. I pray thee 
dance for me. I am sad to-night. Yes ; I am 
passing sad to-night. When I came hither I 
slipped in blood, which is an evil omen ; and I 
heard, I am sure I heard in the air a beating of 
wings, a beating of giant wings. I cannot tell what 
they mean ... I am sad to-night. Therefore 
dance for me. Dance for me, Salome, I beseech 
you. If you dance for me you may ask of me 
what you will, and I will give it you, even unto the 
half of my kingdom. 

48 




SALOME 

[Rising.] Will you indeed give me whatsoever 
I shall ask, Tetrarch ? 

HERODIAS 

Do not dance, my daughter. 

HEROD 

Everything, even the half of my kingdom. 

SALOME 

You swear it, Tetrarch ? 

HEROD 

I swear it, Salome. 

HERODIAS 

Do not dance, my daughter. 

SALOME 

By what will you swear, Tetrarch ? 

HEROD 

By my life, by my crown, by my gods. What- 
soever you desire I will give it you, even to the 
half of my kingdom, if you will but dance for 
me. O, Salome, Salome, dance for me ! 

SALOME 

You have sworn, Tetrarch. 

HEROD 

I have sworn, Salom£. 

49 e 



SALOME 

All this I ask, even the half of your kingdom. 

HERODIAS 

My daughter, do not dance. 

HEROD 

Even to the half of my kingdom. Thou wilt 
be passing fair as a queen, Salome, if it please 
thee to ask for the half of my kingdom. Will 
she not be fair as a queen ? Ah ! it is cold here ! 
There is an icy wind, and I hear . . . where- 
fore do I hear in the air this beating of wings ? 
Ah ! one might fancy a bird, a huge black bird that 
hovers over the terrace. Why can I not see it, 
this bird ? The beat of its wings is terrible. The 
breath of the wind of its wings is terrible. It is 
a chill wind. Nay, but it is not cold, it is hot. 
I am choking. Pour water on my hands. Give 
me snow to eat Loosen my mantle. Quick ! 
quick ! loosen my mantle. Nay, but leave it. It 
is my garland that hurts me, my garland of roses. 
The flowers are like fire. They have burned my 
forehead. [He tears the wreath from his head and 
throws it on the tabled Ah ! I can breathe now. 
How red those petals are ! They are like stains 
of blood on the cloth. That does not matter. 
You must not find symbols in everything you 
see. It makes life impossible. It were better 
to say that stains of blood are as lovely as rose 
petals. It were better far to say that . . . . 
But we will not speak of this. Now I am happy, 

5° 



I am passing happy. Have I not the right to be 
happy ? Your daughter is going to dance for me. 
Will you not dance for me, Salome ? You have 
promised to dance for me. 

HERODIAS 

I will not have her dance. 

SALOME 

I will dance for you, Tetrarch. 

HEROD 

You hear what your daughter says. She is 
going to dance for me. You do well to dance 
for me, Salome. And when you have danced for 
me, forget not to ask of me whatsoever you wish. 
Whatsoever you wish I will give it you, even to 
the half of my kingdom. I have sworn it, have 
I not? 

SALOME 

You have sworn it, Tetrarch. 

HEROD 

And I have never broken my word. I am not 
of those who break their oaths. I know not how 
to lie. I am the slave of my word, and my word 
is the word of a king. The King of Cappadocia 
always lies, but he is no true king. He is 
a coward. Also he owes me money that he 
will not repay. He has even insulted my ambas- 
sadors. He has spoken words that were wound- 

51 E 7, 



ing. But Caesar will crucify him when he comes 
to Rome. I am sure that Caesar will crucify 
him. And if not, yet will he die, being eaten 
of worms. The prophet has prophesied it. Well ! 
wherefore dost thou tarry, Salome ? 

SALOME 

I am awaiting until my slaves bring perfumes to 
me and the seven veils, and take off my sandals. 
[Slaves bring perfumes and the seven veils, and take 
off the sandals of Salom/.] 

HEROD 

Ah, you are going to dance with naked feet. 'Tis 
well ! 'Tis well. Your little feet will be like white 
doves. They will be like little white flowers that 
dance upon the trees. . . . No, no, she is going 
to dance on blood. There is blood spilt on the 
ground. She must not dance on blood. It were 
an evil omen. 

HERODIAS 

What is it to you if she dance on blood ? Thou 
hast waded deep enough therein. . . . 

HEROD 

What is it to me ? Ah ! look at the moon ! 
She has become red. She has become red as 
blood. Ah ! the prophet prophesied truly. He 
prophesied that the moon would become red as 
blood. Did he not prophesy it ? All of you 
heard him. And now the moon has become red 
as blood. Do ye not see it ? 

52 



HERODIAS 

Oh, yes, I see it well, and the stars are falling 
like ripe figs, are they not ? and the sun is 
becoming black like sackcloth of hair, and the 
kings of the earth are afraid. That at least one 
can see. The prophet, for once in his life, was 
right, the kings of the earth are afraid. . . . 
Let us go within. You are sick. They will say 
at Rome that you are mad. Let us go within, 
I tell you. 

THE VOICE OF JOKANAAN 

Who is this 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 great- 
ness ? Wherefore is thy raiment stained with 
scarlet ? 



HERODIAS 

Let us go within. The voice of that man 
maddens me. I will not have my daughter dance 
while he is continually crying out. I will not have 
her dance while you look at her in this fashion. 
In a word, I will not have her dance. 

HEROD 

Do not rise, my wife, my queen, it will avail 
thee nothing. I will not go within till she hath 
danced. Dance, Salome, dance for me. 

53 



HERODIAS 

Do not dance, my daughter. 

SALOME 

I am ready, Tetrarch. 

{Salome* dances the dance of the seven veils.] 

HEROD 

Ah ! wonderful ! wonderful ! You see that she 
has danced for me, your daughter. Come near, 
Salome, come near, that I may give you your 
reward. Ah ! I pay the dancers well. I will pay 
thee royally. I will give thee whatsoever thy 
soul desireth. What wouldst thou have ? Speak. 

SALOME 

\Kneeling\. 

I would that they presently bring me in a silver 
charger . . . 

HEROD 

\Laughing\. 

In a silver charger ? Surely yes, in a silver 
charger. She is charming, is she not ? What is 
it you would have in a silver charger, O sweet 
and fair Salome, you who are fairer than all the 
daughters of Judaea ? What would you have 
them bring thee in a silver charger ? Tell me. 
Whatsoever it may be, they shall give it you. 
My treasures belong to thee. What is it, 
Salome ? 

54 



salome 

[Rising], 

The head of Jokanaan. 

HERODIAS 

Ah ! that is well said, my daughter. 

HEROD 
No, no ! 

HERODIAS 

That is well said, my daughter. 

HEROD 

No, no, Salome. You do not ask me that. 
Do not listen to your mother's voice. She is ever 
giving you evil counsel. Do not heed her. 

SALOME 

I do not heed my mother. It is for mine 
own pleasure that I ask the head of Jokanaan 
in a silver charger. You hath sworn, Herod. 
Forget not that you have sworn an oath. 

HEROD 

I know it. I have sworn by my gods. I know 
it well. But I pray you, Salome, ask of me 
something else. Ask of me the half of my 
kingdom, and I will give it you. But ask not of 
me what you have asked. 

55 



salome 

I ask of you the head of Jokanaan. 

HEROD 

No, no, I do not wish it. 

SALOME 

You have sworn, Herod. 

HERODIAS 

Yes, you have sworn. Everybody heard you. 
You swore it before everybody. 

HEROD 

Be silent ! It is not to you I speak. 

HERODIAS 

My daughter has done well to ask the head of 
Jokanaan. He has covered me with insults. He 
has said monstrous things against me. One can 
see that she loves her mother well. Do not yield, 
my daughter. He has sworn, he has sworn. 

HEROD 

Be silent, speak not to me ! . . . . Come, 
Salome, be reasonable. I have never been hard 
to you. I have ever loved you. . . . It may 
be that I have loved you too much. Therefore 
ask not this thing of me. This is a terrible thing, 
an awful thing to ask of me. Surely, I think 
thou art jesting. The head of a man that is cut 
from his body is ill to look upon, is it not ? It 

56 



is not meet that the eyes of a virgin should look 
upon such a thing. What pleasure could you have 
in it ? None. No, no, it is not what you desire. 
Hearken to me. I have an emerald, a great 
round emerald, which Caesar's minion sent me. 
If you look through this emerald you can see 
things which happen at a great distance. Caesar 
himself carries such an emerald when he goes to 
the circus. But my emerald is larger. I know 
well that it is larger. It is the largest emerald 
in the whole world. You would like that, would 
you not ? Ask it of me and I will give it you. 

SALOME 

I demand the head of Jokanaan. 

HEROD 

You are not listening. You are not listening. 
Suffer me to speak, Salome. 

SALOME 

The head of Jokanaan. 

HEROD 

No, no, you would not have that. You say 
that to trouble me, because I have looked at 
you all this evening. It is true, I have looked 
at you all this evening. Your beauty troubled 
me. Your beauty has grievously troubled me, and 
I have looked at you too much. But I will look 
at you no more. Neither at things, nor at people 

57 



should one look. Only in mirrors should one 
look, for mirrors do but show us masks. Oh! oh! 
bring wine ! I thirst. . . . Salome, Salome, 
let us be friends. Come now! .... Ah! 
what would I say ? What was't ? Ah ! I re- 
member! .... Salome — nay, but come nearer 
to me ; I fear you will not hear me — Salome, 
you know my white peacocks, my beautiful white 
peacocks, that walk in the garden between the 
myrtles and the tall cypress trees. Their beaks 
are gilded with gold, and the grains that they eat 
are gilded with gold also, and their feet are stained 
with purple. When they cry out the rain comes, 
and the moon shows herself in the heavens when 
they spread their tails. Two by two they walk 
between the cypress trees and the black myrtles, 
and each has a slave to tend it. Sometimes they 
fly across the trees, and anon they crouch in the 
grass, and round the lake. There are not in all 
the world birds so wonderful. There is no king 
in all the world who possesses such wonderful 
birds. I am sure that Caesar himself has no birds 
so fair as my birds. I will give you fifty of my 
peacocks. They will follow you whithersoever you 
go, and in the midst of them you will be like the 
moon in the midst of a great white cloud. . . . 
I will give them all to you. I have but a hundred, 
and in the whole world there is no king who has 
peacocks like unto my peacocks. But I will give 
them all to you. Only you must loose me from 
my oath, and must not ask of me that which you 
have asked of me. 

[He empties the cup of wine.] 

58 



SALOME 

Give me the head of Jokanaan. 

HERODIAS 

Well said, my daughter! As for you, you are 
ridiculous with your peacocks. 

HEROD 

Be silent ! You cry out always ; you cry out like 
a beast of prey. You must not. Your voice 

wearies me. Be silent, I say Salome, 

think of what you are doing. This man comes 
perchance from God. He is a holy man. The 
finger of God has touched him. God has put into 
his mouth terrible words. In the palace as in the 

desert God is always with' him At 

least it is possible. One does not know. It is 
possible that God is for him and with him. 
Furthermore, if he died some misfortune might 
happen to me. In any case, he said that the day 
he dies a misfortune will happen to some one. 
That could only be to me. Remember, I slipped 
in blood when I entered. Also, I heard a beating 
of wings in the air, a beating of mighty wings. 
These are very evil omens, and there were others. 
I am sure there were others though I did not see 
them. Well, Salome, you do not wish a misfortune 
to happen to me ? You do not wish that. Listen 
to me, then. 

SALOME 

Give me the head of Jokanaan. 
59 



HEROD 

Ah ! you are not listening to me. Be calm. 
I — I am calm. I am quite calm. Listen. I 
have jewels hidden in this place — jewels that 
your mother even has never seen ; jewels that 
are marvellous. I have a collar of pearls, set 
in four rows. They are like unto moons chained 
with rays of silver. They are like fifty moons 
caught in a golden net. On the ivory of her 
breast a queen has worn it. Thou shalt be as fair 
as a queen when thou wearest it. I have amethysts 
of two kinds, one that is black like wine, and one 
that is red like wine which has been coloured with 
water. I have topazes, yellow as are the eyes of 
tigers, and topazes that are pink as the eyes of a 
wood-pigeon, and green topazes that are as the 
eyes of cats. I have opals that burn always, 
with an icelike flame, opals that make sad 
men's minds, and are fearful of the shadows. I 
have onyxes like the eyeballs of a dead woman. 
I have moonstones that change when the moon 
changes, and are wan when they see the sun. I 
have sapphires big like eggs, and as blue as blue 
flowers. The sea wanders within them and the 
moon comes never to trouble the blue of their 
waves. I have chrysolites and beryls and chryso- 
prases and rubies. I have sardonyx and hyacinth 
stones, and stones of chalcedony, and I will give 
them all to you, all, and other things will I add 
to them. The King of the Indies has but even 
now sent me four fans fashioned from the feathers 
of parrots, and the King of Numidia a garment 
of ostrich feathers. I have a crystal, into which 

60 



it is not lawful for a woman to look, nor may 
young men behold it until they have been beaten 
with rods. In a coffer of nacre I have three 
wondrous turquoises. He who wears them on 
his forehead can imagine things which are not, 
and he who carries them in his hand can make 
women sterile. These are great treasures above 
all price. They are treasures without price. But 
this is not all. In an ebony coffer I have 
two cups of amber, that are like apples of gold. 
If an enemy pour poison into these cups, they 
become like an apple of silver. In a coffer in- 
crusted with amber I have sandals incrusted with 
glass. I have mantles that have been brought 
from the land of the Seres, and bracelets decked 
about with carbuncles and with jade that come 

from the city of Euphrates What 

desirest thou more than this, Salome ? Tell me 
the thing that thou desirest, and I will give it 
thee. All that thou askest I will give thee, save 
one thing. I will give thee all that is mine, save 
one life. I will give thee the mantle of the 
high priest. I will give thee the veil of the 
sanctuary. 

THE JEWS 

Oh! oh! 

SALOME 

Give me the head of Jokanaan. 

HEROD 

[Sinking back in his seat]. Let her be given 
61 



what she asks! Of a truth she is her mother's 
child ! [ The first Soldier approaches. Herodias 
draws from the hand of the Tetrarch the ring of 
death and gives it to the Soldier, who straightway 
bears it to the Executioner. The Executioner looks 
scared] Who has taken my ring ? There was 
a ring on my right hand. Who has drunk my 
wine ? There was wine in my cup. It was full 
of wine. Someone has drunk it! Oh! surely 
some evil will befall some one. [The Executioner 
goes down into the cistern] Ah ! Wherefore did 
I give my oath ? Kings ought never to pledge 
their word. If they keep it not, it is terrible, 
and if they keep it, it is terrible also. 

HERODIAS 

My daughter has done well. 

HEROD 

I am sure that some misfortune will happen. 

SALOME 

[She leans over the cistern and listens] 
There is no sound. I hear nothing. Why 
does he not cry out, this man ? Ah ! if any man 
sought to kill me, I would cry out, I would 
struggle, I would not suffer. . . Strike, strike, 
Naaman, strike, I tell you. . . . No, I hear 
nothing. There is a silence, a terrible silence. 
Ah ! something has fallen upon the ground. I 
heard something fall. It is the sword of the 
headsman. He is afraid, this slave. He has 
let his sword fall. He dare not kill him. He 

62 



is a coward, this slave ! Let soldiers be sent. 
[She sees the Page of Herodias and addresses him.] 
Come hither, thou wert the friend of him who is 
dead, is it not so ? Well, I tell thee, there are 
not dead men enough. Go to the soldiers and 
bid them go down and bring me the thing I ask, 
the thing the Tetrarch has promised me, the 
thing that is mine. [The Page recoils. She turns 
to the soldiers] Hither, ye soldiers. Get ye 
down into this cistern and bring me the head of 
this man. [The Soldiers recoil] Tetrarch, Tetrarch, 
command your soldiers that they bring me the 
head of Jokanaan. 

[A huge black arm, the arm of the Executioner ; 
comes forth from the cistern, bearing on a silver 
shield the head of Jokanaan. Salome' seizes it, 
Herod hides his face with his cloak. Herodias 
smiles and fans herself. The Nazarenes fall on their 
knees and begin to pray] 

Ah ! thou wouldst not suffer me to kiss thy 
mouth, Jokanaan. Well ! I will kiss it now. I will 
bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit. 
Yes, I will kiss thy mouth, Jokanaan. I said it ; 
did I not say it ? I said it. Ah ! I will kiss it 
now. . . . But, wherefore dost thou not look 
at me, Jokanaan ? Thine eyes that were so ter- 
rible, so full of rage and scorn, are shut now. 
Wherefore are they shut ? Open thine eyes ! Lift 
up thine eyelids, Jokanaan ! Wherefore dost thou 
not look at me ? Art thou afraid of me, Jokanaan, 
that thou wilt not look at me ? . And thy 

tongue, that was like a red snake darting poison, 
it moves no more, it says nothing now, Jokanaan, 

63 



that scarlet viper that spat its venom upon me. 
It is strange, is it not ? How is it that the red 
viper stirs no longer ? Thou wouldst 

have none of me, Jokanaan. Thou didst reject me. 
Thou didst speak evil words against me. Thou 
didst treat me as a harlot, as a wanton, me, Salome, 
daughter of Herodias, Princess of Judaea ! Well, 
Jokanaan, I still live, but thou, thou art dead, and 
thy head belongs to me. I can do with it what 
I will. I can throw it to the dogs and to the 
birds of the air. That which the dogs leave, 
the birds of the air shall devour. . . . Ah, 
Jokanaan, Jokanaan, thou wert the only man that 
I have loved. All other men are hateful to me. 
But thou, thou wert beautiful ! Thy body was 
a column of ivory set on a silver socket. It 
was a garden full of doves and of silver lilies. 
It was a tower of silver decked with shields 
of ivory. There was nothing in the world so 
white as thy body. There was nothing in the 
world so black as thy hair. In the whole world 
there was nothing so red as thy mouth. Thy 
voice was a censer that scattered strange per- 
fumes, and when I looked on thee I heard a 
strange music. Ah ! wherefore didst thou not 
look at me, Jokanaan ? Behind thine hands and 
thy curses thou didst hide thy face. Thou didst 
put upon thine eyes the covering of him who 
would see his God. Well, thou hast seen thy 
God, Jokanaan, but me, me, thou didst never see. 
If thou hadst seen me thou wouldst have loved 
me. I, I saw thee, Jokanaan, and I loved thee. 
Oh, how I loved thee ! I love thee yet, Jokanaan, 

64 



I love thee only. . . . I am athirst for 
thy beauty ; I am hungry for thy body ; and 
neither wine nor fruits can appease my desire. 
What shall I do now, Jokanaan ? Neither the 
floods nor the great waters can quench my passion. 
I was a princess, and thou didst scorn me. I was 
a virgin, and thou didst take my virginity from 
me. I was chaste, and thou didst fill my veins 
with fire. . . . Ah ! ah ! wherefore didst thou 
not look at me, Jokanaan ? If thou hadst looked 
at me thou hadst loved me. Well I know that 
thou wouldst have loved me, and the mystery 
of love is greater than the mystery of death. 
Love only should one consider. 

HEROD 

She is monstrous, thy daughter, she is altogether 
monstrous. In truth, what she has done is a great 
crime. I am sure that it was a crime against an 
unknown God. 

HERODIAS 

I approve of what my daughter has done. And 
I will stay here now. 

HEROD 

[Rising], 

Ah ! There speaks the incestuous wife ! Come ! 
I will not stay here. Come, I tell thee. Surely 
some terrible thing will befall. Manasseh, Issachar, 
Ozias, put out the torches. I will not look at 
things, I will not suffer things to look at me. 
Put out the torches ! Hide the moon ! Hide 

65 F 



the stars ! Let us hide ourselves in our palace, 
Herodias. I begin to be afraid. 

[The slaves put out the torches. The stars dis- 
appear. A great black cloud crosses the moon and 
conceals it completely. The stage becomes very dark. 
The Tetrarch begins to climb the staircase^ 

THE VOICE OF SALOME 

Ah ! I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan, I 
have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste 
on thy lips. Was it the taste of blood ? . . . 
But perchance it is the taste of love. . . . They 
say that love hath a bitter taste. . . . But what 
of that ? what of that ? I have kissed thy mouth, 
Jokanaan. 

[A moonbeam falls on Salome' covering her with 
light.] 

HEROD 

[Turning round and seeing Salomi\ 
Kill that woman ! 

[The soldiers rush forward and crush beneath 
their shields Salom^ daughter of Herodias, Princess 
of Jud<za?[ 



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