The word sibyl comes (via Latin) from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earlier oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity prophesied at certain holy sites, probably all of pre-Indo-European origin, under the divine influence of a deity, originally one of the chthonic earth-goddesses. Later in antiquity, sibyls wandered from place to place. ).

The medieval, Christianized role for the Sibyls was as precursors, prophets of the New Dispensation, Christian allies in a Hellenistic world:

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sibylla.

("Day of wrath, o day of mourning, when the world dissolves in the twinkling of an eye, as David foretold, and the Sibyl.")

Delphic Sibyl, the Pythia

): Sibyl.

  • The Sibyls (): by Master IHS, 1572
  • Late Gothic illustrations of twelve sibyls (

    Modern sibyl imagery


    When Sibyl is taken for a woman's name, it is commonly spelled Sybil.

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