Herodias (c. 15 BC-after 39 AD) was a Jewish princess of the Herodian Dynasty.


*Daughter of Aristobulus IV (one of the two sons of Herod the Great and the Hasmonean princess Mariamne I)
*Daughter of Berenice (a daughter of Herod's sister Salome I, and of Costabarus, governor of Idumea)
*Full sister to Herod III (king of Chalkis), Herod Agrippa (king of Judea), Aristobulus V, and Mariamne III (possibly the first wife of her uncle, Herod Archelaus, ethnarch of Judea).


Herod II

Around the year AD 1 or 2, she married her uncle, Herod II, also called "Herod Boethus", son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II, daughter of the high priest Simon Boethus. Although seen for a while as the successor of Herod the Great, he fell from grace after his mother's implication in a plot to kill the king. After his marriage with Herodias, he and his wife lived as upper-class private citizens in or near a harbor city, possibly Azotus, Ascalon or Caesarea Maritima. With him, Herodias had a daughter (born circa 14), whom she named Salome after Herodias's maternal grandmother.

Herod Antipas

However, around 23, she divorced her husband and married another uncle, Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. Although Herod Antipas and Herodias may really have loved each other, political considerations were probably of more importance to them in this marriage - Herodias' Hasmonean descent was a very good asset for Antipas' ambitions to the royal crown and gave a sort of legitimacy to his claim; for Herodias, her marriage with Antipas improved her social status very significantly and she was close to being a queen, a position she might have dreamed of since her betrothal to her first husband, the former sole legatee of Herod the Great. However this union was not well received by Antipas' subjects and offended the religious sensibilities of many Jews. Indeed, Antipas' and Herodias' union was considered a violation of Jewish Law of marriage and was openly criticized by John the Baptist. This may have enraged the Hellenistically educated Herodian couple who probably wanted to pose for observant Jews over the population. In the Jewish law of the time, her sin was in marrying her living ex-husband's brother, and not her uncle (marriage to an uncle was only later outlawed).

In 37, Herodias' brother Herod Agrippa was made king over the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis and the tetrarchy of the late Lysanias. This roused Herodias' jealousy and she prodded Antipas to sail for Rome and ask the title of king from the emperor Gaius Caligula. They embarked for Italy in late 39. However, they were outsmarted by Agrippa, who had sent letters to Caligula denouncing Antipas' alliance with Parthia and other of his misdeeds. When Caligula deposed Antipas and sentenced him to exile in what is now Lyon (Gaul), he offered Herodias the possibility to return in Judea and live at the court of her brother. But she proudly refused and accompanied her husband in his banishment. They probably died in their exile, shortly afterwards.

In the Gospels

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Herodias plays a major role in John the Baptist's execution, using her daughter's dance before Antipas and his party guests to ask for the head of the Baptist as a reward. Antipas did not want to put John the Baptist to death, for Antipas liked to listen to John the Baptist preach (Mark 6:20). Furthermore, Antipas probably feared by putting John the Baptist to death that his followers would riot.

Modern Speculation of Herodias in the Gospels

The historicity of the retelling of the Gospel's account of the execution of John the Baptist has seriously been put to question by biblical scholars [Meier, "A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus", Volume Two: "Mentor, Message and Miracles". Anchor Bible Reference Library, New York: Doubleday, 1994, pp. 171-176.] . According to the ancient historian Josephus, John the Baptist was put to death by Antipas for political reasons, for Antipas feared the prophet's seditious influence. Some exegetes believe that Antipas' and Herodias' struggle with John the Baptist as told in the Gospels was some kind of a remembrance of the political and religious fight opposing the Israeli monarchs Achab and Jezebel to the prophet Elijah.

In medieval literature

In medieval Europe a widespread belief held Herodias to be the supernatural leader of a supposed cult of witches, synonymous with Diana, Holda and Abundia. [cite book |last=Ginzburg |first=Carlo |authorlink=Carlo Ginzburg |year=1990 |title=Ecstasies: Deciphering the witches' sabbath |publisher=Hutchinson Radius |location=London |id=ISBN 0-09-174024-X] See Cult of Herodias.


Further reading

* Gillman, Florence Morgan. "Herodias: At Home in the Fox's Den". Interfaces. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2003.
* Meier, John P. , Volume Two: "Mentor, Message and Miracles". Anchor Bible Reference Library, New York: Doubleday, 1994.
* Theissen, Gerd. "The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form". Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.

Herodias in fiction

*"Hérodiade", opera by Jules Massenet.
*"Hérodias", story by Gustave Flaubert, one of the "Three Tales" ("Trois contes"), published in 1877.
*"Salomé", play by Oscar Wilde, French (1894), translated into English by Lord Alfred Douglas, 1895.
*"Salome", opera by Richard Strauss, based on a German translation (by Hedwig Lachmann, grandmother of Mike Nichols) of the play by Oscar Wilde.
*Herodias is the name of an outcast devil in the "Dungeons & Dragons" roleplaying game.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Herodias — (Gemälde von Paul Hippolyte Delaroche) Herodias (* 8 v. Chr., † nach 39 n. Chr.) war eine Tochter des jüdischen Prinzen Aristobulos und dessen Ehefrau Berenike sowie eine Enkelin Herodes des Großen und dessen Ehefrau Mariamne, einer Prinzessin… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Herodias — • Wife of Herod Philip, and mistress of Herod Antipas Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Herodias     Herodias     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • HERODIAS — (first century C.E.), daughter of Aristobulus, the son of herod i and mariamne the Hasmonean. Herodias was married to Herod, son of Herod I and Mariamne II, to whom she bore a daughter, salome . After 31 C.E. Herodias was divorced from her first… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Herodías — por Paul Delaroche …   Wikipedia Español

  • Herodias — Herodias, jene isralitische Frau, deren das neue Testament als Veranlassung der Enthauptung Johannes des Täufers erwähnt, war die Enkelin Herodes des Großen und vermählte sich auf seinen Wunsch mit ihrem Oheim Herodes Philippus. Treulos verließ… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Herodĭas — Herodĭas, Enkelin Herodes des Großen, Tochter des Aristobulos, Gemahlin des Herodes Philippos, ihres Oheims, dem sie die Salome gebar; wurde ihrem Gemahl von Herodes Antipas entführt; auf ihre Veranlassung wurde Johannes der Täufer hingerichtet.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Herodĭas [1] — Herodĭas, Vogel, s. Reiher …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Herodĭas [2] — Herodĭas, Tochter Aristobuls, Enkelin Herodes d. Gr., Gemahlin des Herodes Antipas (s. Herodes 2), entlockte durch den Tanz ihrer Tochter Salome ihrem Gemahl das Versprechen, Johannes den Täufer enthaupten zu lassen. Sie folgte 39 ihrem Mann in… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Herodias — Herodĭas, Enkelin Herodes d. Gr., Gemahlin des Herodes Boëthos, dann dessen Stiefbruders Herodes Antipas, verleitete diesen zur Hinrichtung Johannes des Täufers …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Herodias — [hə rō′dē əs] n. Bible the second wife of Herod Antipas & mother of Salome: Mark 6:17 28 …   English World dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.