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See also: Sibyl


Michelangelo's rendering of the Delphic sibyl

Alternative forms[edit]


Latin Sibylla, from Ancient Greek Σίβυλλα (Síbulla).



sibyl (plural sibyls)

  1. A pagan female oracle or prophetess, especially the Cumaean sibyl.
    • c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      : Act III, Scene IV:
      A sibyl, that had number'd in the world
      The sun to course two hundred compasses,
      In her prophetic fury sew'd the work;
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. [], volume II, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), OCLC 630079698, page 45:
      "Are you very anxious," asked he, "to consult the sibyl?" "Nay," replied Francesea; "I want faith." "You will," replied he, "nevertheless be amused with Madame de I'Hôpital's tact; she knows enough of the history of the individuals around to give a shrewd guess at the favourite fantasy of each, and that it will be successful is the summing up of her prophecy. She tells each what he wishes, and so obtains an easy belief."
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, OCLC 1167497017:
      `Nay, wait, Kallikrates,' said Ayesha, who, standing with the lamp raised above her head, flooding with its light her own rich beauty and the cold wonder of the death-clothed form upon the bier, resembled an inspired Sibyl rather than a woman, as she rolled out her majestic sentences with a grandeur and a freedom of utterance which I am, alas! quite unable to reproduce.
    • 1922 T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland: Epigraph (translated from 61 Petronius' The Satyricon: Chapter 8, Lines 80 -86)
      I used to read these tales in Homer when I was a lad. Then the Sibyl! I saw her at Cumae with my own eyes hanging in a jar; and when the boys cried to her, ‘Sibyl, what would you?' she'd answer, ‘I would die,'-- both of ‘em speaking Greek."
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