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Woman’s Evil or Man’s Deception?

The tale of Herod and Salome from 27 AD survives as a cautionary tale of woman’s sexual power over man’s rational mind.  But is that what it really is?The facts of the case reveal something different and show how alpha type men often blame women for the unpleasant things they do to keep their power.

Background: Herod and Salome

Herod (nickname Antipas) was tetrarch or sub-king of Galilee (in Israel’s north) under the Roman Empire from 6 AD to 39 AD.  Herod divorced his own wife to marry his half-brother’s wife Herodias (who had also divorced her husband).  Herod and Herodias were linked by blood to Herod the Great – Herodias was the granddaughter and Herod was the son of Herod the Great and a different wife.

Salome was the daughter of Herodias and Herod’s half-brother and thus became step-daughter to Herod (and was also his niece).

At this time the Christian religion was trying to get a hold of the hearts and minds of the common people who were responding very positively to its doctrines. This was causing a potential problem to Herod who feared there may be a rebellion against his rule.

Thus the main struggle of the time was a power struggle between men; that being the struggle between Jesus and his disciples and the Roman Empire and its representative rulers in the provinces, eg Herod.

Salome with the head of John the Baptist on a platter

John the Baptist

John the Baptist was preaching Christian teachings at the time, trying to convert people to his way of thinking.  Part of the Christian doctrine was the banning of incestuous relations.

Given this, John the Baptist took a dim view of the union of Herod and Herodias.  As far as John was concerned Herod should not have married someone to whom he was related by blood.

For verbalising this opinion in public forums, Herod had put John the Baptist in jail in around 27 BC.  Reportedly he was reluctant to kill him, probably fearing a riot in protest, so he simply let him rot in jail for a year or two.

The Incident

The incident attributed to Herod and Salome, in which Salome is blamed for Herod’s bad behaviour is this.

Salome, then around 14 years of age, had been asked to perform a dance at her step-father’s birthday banquet.  At least, that is the politically correct version of the story.  Given the Roman indifference to incest it is possible that Salome was wrapped in seven veils and delivered to him later for sex.

Whichever it was, Salome’s performance greatly pleased Herod, who in his drunken state promised Salome anything she desired, up to half of his kingdom.

Salome, a child, did not know what to ask for, so dutifully asked her mother Herodias what to request.  The mother, having a great dislike of John the Baptist’s interference in her marriage, and threatening of her security, wanted him gone and saw this as an opportunity to get what she wanted.

When the daughter asked her mother what she should request, she was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod was reportedly surprised by the request, and it was said, he reluctantly agreed and had John executed in the prison.

Salome dancing at Herod’s birthday banquet

The Real Meaning

In point of fact Herod had John killed to sure up his own power.  He was worried that the great influence John had over the people might incite them to rebellion.  Blaming his step-daughter was simply convenient “alpha-male spin” for doing what he had wanted to do all along but lacked the courage to do without a feasible excuse to defray blame. Herod had long since thought it best that John be put to death.

How the Incident Fuelled Misogyny

Since the time of the worship of the Great Mother, before Christianity even appeared, many men, particularly the alpha male type of man who desires to be all-powerful, have had a deep-seated fear of women.

This fear centres around their stronger need for sex, for which they conveniently blame women.  In fact it is just natural that men need sex more, but alpha type males do not like it because when they need sex they feel powerless, and they hate feeling that way.

Guarding Against the Feeling of Powerlessness

To guard against the feeling of powerlessness in the face of sex, alpha type males invent the myth of the femme fatale, the seductress, who evaporates all their reason and causes it to re-appear as a hard-on in the groin area.

Thus it was that Salome was cast in history as the symbolic incarnation of world-old vice, the goddess of immortal hysteria, the curse of beauty supreme above all other beauties that stirs the flesh and excites passions, a monstrous beast of the apocalypse, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible, poisoning.

In fact Salome was not a powerful femme fatale but a powerless pawn and a sexual object, shamelessly exploited by her own family and wielded as a political tool.

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