Feb 13

The Sybil

by in NU, Odious Women Tour

The sibyl of Cuma foretold wars and wrote her oracles on oak leaves which would often blow away, but which she would not help her listeners re-assemble. Sibyls were known for their trancelike states and shuddering voices; Michelangelo thought that the sibyls were so important that he seated five on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Cumean Sibyl, in particular, is depicted as a dark complexioned woman with wrinkles and muscular build. She reads a large manuscript, perhaps the Sibylline books.

Antro della SibillaThe fourteenth century humanist, Giovanni Boccaccio, devoted a chapter to the sibyl in his Famous Women, in which he called her a maiden named Almathea or Deiphebe. Boccaccio claimed that she preserved her virginity and had a sanctuary near Lago Averno where she made many predictions…

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Of course, by the time Virgil wrote about the sibyl, she no longer existed, so what comes down to us today is a blend of myth, fiction, and history.


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