In literature, Herodias was commonly known as the wife of Herod Antipas. Their marriage was censured by John the Baptist as a transgression of Mosaic Law. Salome (Herodias' daughter) performed a dance that so pleased Herod that he offered to grant any wish she expressed. Prompted by her mother, Salome asked for John the Baptist's head on a platter, a wish the reluctant Herod was bound to fulfill. As punishment, Herod was exiled to a deserted island and Herodias chose to go with him.

In medieval Europe, a widespread belief held Herodias to be the supernatural leader of a cult of witches. She rose from the dead, taking shape as a new goddess in the Pagan pantheon.