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Sibyls

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Plato speaks of only one (the Erythræan); Martian Capella says there were two, the Erythræan and the Phrygian; the former being the famous “Cumæan Sibyl;” Solīnus and Jackson, in his Chronologic Antiquities, maintains, on the authority of Ælian, that there were four—the Erythræan, the Samian, the Egyptian, and the Sardian; Varro tells us there were ten, viz. the Cumæan (who sold the books to Tarquin), the Delphic, Egyptian, Erythræan, Hellespontine, Libyan, Persian, Phrygian, Samian, and Tiburtine.

⁂ The name of the Cumæan sibyl was Amalthæa.

“How know we but that she may be an eleventh Sibyl or a second Cassandra?”—Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, iii. 16.

Sibyls. The mediæval monks reckoned twelve Sibyls, and gave to each a separate prophecy and distinct emblem:—

(1) The Libʹyan Sibyl: “The day shall come when men shall see the King of all living things.” Emblem, a lighted taper.

(2) The Saʹmian Sibyl: “The Rich One shall be born of a pure virgin.” Emblem, a rose.

(3) The Cuman Sibyl: “Jesus Christ shall come from heaven, and live and reign in poverty on earth.” Emblem, a crown.

(4) The Cumæan Sibyl: “God shall be born of a pure virgin, and hold converse with sinners.” Emblem, a cradle.

(5) The Erythræan Sibyl: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Saviour.” Emblem, a horn.

(6) The Persian Sibyl: “Satan shall be overcome by a true prophet.” Emblem, a dragon under the Sibyl’s feet and a lantern.

(7) The Tiburtine Sibyl: “The Highest shall descend from heaven, and a virgin be shown in the valleys of the deserts.” Emblem, a dove.

(8) The Delphic Sibyl: “The Prophet born of the virgin shall be crowned with thorns.” Emblem, a crown of thorns.

(9) The Phrygian Sibyl: “Our Lord shall rise again.” Emblem, a banner and a cross.

(10) The European Sibyl: “A virgin and her Son shall flee into Egypt.” Emblem, a sword.

(11) The Agrippiʹne Sibyl: “Jesus Christ shall be outraged and scourged.” Emblem, a whip.

(12) The Hellespontic Sibyl: “Jesus Christ shall suffer shame upon the cross.” Emblem, a T cross.

This list of prophecies is of the sixteenth century, and is manifestly a clumsy forgery or mere monkish legend. (See below, Sibylline Verses.)

The most famous of the ten sibyls was Amalthæa, of Cumæ in Æoʹlia, who offered her nine books to Tarquin the Proud. The offer being rejected, she burnt three of them; and after the lapse of twelve months, offered the remaining six at the same price. Again being refused, she burnt three more, and after a similar interval asked the same price for the remaining three. The sum demanded was now given, and Amalthæa never appeared again. (Livy.)

Sibyl. The Cumæan sibyl was the conductor of Virgil to the infernal regions. (Æneid, vi.)

Sibyl. A fortune-teller.


“How they will fare it needs a sibyl to say.”—The Times.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Shunt
Shut up
Shy
Shylock
Shylock (A)
Si
Si Quis
Siamese Twins:
Sibberidge
Sibyl
Sibyls
Sibylline Books
Sibylline Leaves
Sibylline Verses
Siccis pedibus [with dry feet]
Sice
Sicilian Dishes (Sicŭlæ dapēs)
Sicilian Vespers
Sick Man (The)
Sick as a Cat
Sick as a Dog