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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Legend has it that the ancient Sibyls could live for a thousand years. It seems more likely, however, that it was their utterings that were so long lived. Heraclitus, as quoted by Plutarch, said of them, “The Sibyl with raving mouth, uttering things without smiles, without graces and without myrrh, reaches over a thousand years because of the god.”

The Sibyls were the prophets of ancient Greece and Rome. They seem to have originated in Greek Asia Minor and worked through clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience, usually going into trance. They were always connected to Apollo, the god of prophecy, who also originated in Asia Minor. Where the Pythia of Delphi were controlled and protected by the priesthood, the Sibyls were in effect freelancers. The best known Sibyls were at Delphi, Erythræ, Marpessus, Phrygia, Sardis, and Thessaly. The majority of the prophesies uttered by the Sibyls dealt with war, famine, plague, and other disasters.

In Virgil’s Ænid there is the story of the Sibyl of Cumæ who predicted the wars that would follow Æneas’s landing in Italy. Æneas had been told by the prophet Helenus to seek out the cave of the Sibyl of Cums as soon as he reached Italy. He was told that she was a woman of deep wisdom, who could foretell the future and advise him what to do. This she did and, in fact, traveled with him to guide him, eventually leading him to meet the spirit of his deceased father Anchises.


Buckland, Raymond: The Fortune-Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2004
Kaster, Joseph: Putnam’s Concise Mythological Dictionary. New York: G.P. Putnam’s, 1963
Parke, H. W.: Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy in Classical Antiquity. New York: Routledge, 1988
Phillips, E.D.: Man, Myth & Magic: Sibyls. London: BPC Publishing, 1970
Potter, D.: Sibyls in the Greek and Roman World. Rhode Island: Journal of Roman Archaeology 3, 1990
References in periodicals archive ?
Dempsey demonstrates that the sibyls were an abiding interest in northern Italy in the early stages of the Renaissance.
To complete his often complex argument concerning the influence and significance of the Orsini palace images, Dempsey has added an appendix in which the series of twelve sibyls is reconstructed with their verses, illuminated by the Baldini engravings which appear on the pages facing the poems.
Other parts are generated by the Sibyl system and give information about the didactical nature of the displayed content as well as educated hints about other relevant instructions (at the moment only the generated references to other instructions are shown).
The trio in the geri chairs would start gibbering away, like a Greek chorus, like sibyls, speaking in tongues.
When the doors are closed, twelve separate sections show the prediction of salvation, prophets, sibyls, Gabriel and the virgin Mary, St.
Many meet regularly as part of a secret group called Sibyls and hold private church services wearing women's clothes.
1942), a "minor" poet known only from a single volume, The Rains, My Friends (1968), constitute Voices of Sibyls, a slim anthology of poems for the American reader.
For example, in explaining the possible link between the prophetic speech of the Sibyls and stories of mother-daughter relations, Quilligan expounds the French feminist view of 'female language' as oral, secret and inexpressible.
Schmidt argues that Welty uses Medusa, Perseus, and sibyls "as a means of investigating the dilemmas facing modern American women" (p.
Tiburtina, one of the pagan prophetesses known as Sibyls, predicted the steady decline and apocalyptic end of humans over the course of nine generations.
For example, there are very general comments on the iconographic tradition of the Sibyls in Christian art, but no discussion of the two depicted in the library, nor of the inscriptions they hold.
Anna was still a Carmelite foundation, and over the next decade-and-a-half was outfitted with a sculpted altarpiece, four huge marble wall epitaphs carved in low relief, elaborate choir stalls with wooden busts of prophets and sibyls, a pipe organ with splendid painted shutters, a brass grill by the Vischer family of Nuremberg which in the end was never installed, and finally a marble balustrade to replace the rejected grill.