COLLOQUIUM: Julia Wilker, UPENN, "Dirty Dancing: Herodias and the Reinvention of Queenship in First-Century Judaea"

Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

The gospels of Mark and Matthew famously blame Herodias for the violent death of John the Baptist, and Flavius Josephus presents her as a scheming, nagging wife, whose burning ambition caused the downfall of her husband Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. In this paper I reconstruct the biography of Herodias, arguing that her negative reputation reflects the influential role she played in first-century Judaea/Palestine. She was the first dynastic woman since the reign of Herod the Great to gain greater prominence during the reign of her husband; she built her own personal networks and wielded political influence at the court, in Galilee, and beyond. Her public visibility and political profile redefined the role of queens consort, and she became a model for dynastic women in Judaea.