Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles

(ca. 150 BCE–700 CE)

The Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles are a collection of twelve books in which the divine messages of a Sibyl are recorded. In ancient Greece, Sibyls were women who, in moments of ecstasy, were thought to utter predictions, often of woes and disasters, directly from the gods. Although this was a pagan phenomenon, both Jews and Christians living in the Greco-Roman world adapted it in order to place their own religious sentiments in a more widely accepted and familiar mode. The Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles represent this adaptation, hence their designation as “pseudo.” As such, they were written in Greek poetic hexameters but are full of such Judeo-Christian markers as Old and New Testament references, polemics against idolatry, and praises of the one God.

Although various books appear together in the earliest manuscripts of the Oracles (dating from the fourteenth through the sixteenth century CE), each of the twelve books actually has a different date, provenance, and authorship. Based...

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Aeneas and the Cumaean Sibyl (Yale University Art Gallery)

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