Sibyls


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Sibyls

(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.

Sources:

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
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References in classic literature ?
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