sibyl

/sib"euhl/, n.
1. any of certain women of antiquity reputed to possess powers of prophecy or divination.
2. a female prophet or witch.
[1250-1300; < Gk Síbylla SIBYLLA; r. ME Sibil < ML Sibilla < Gk, as above]
Syn. seer, prophetess, oracle, soothsayer.

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Prophetess of Greek legend.

She was a figure of the mythical past whose prophecies, phrased in Greek hexameters, were handed down in writing. In the late 4th century BC, the number of Sibyls multiplied, and the term sibyl was treated as a title. Sibyls were associated with various oracles, especially those of Apollo, who was said to be their inspiration. They were typically depicted as extremely old women who lived in caves and delivered their prophecies in an ecstatic frenzy. A famous collection of prophecies, the Sibylline Books, was traditionally kept in the temple of Jupiter, to be consulted only in emergencies.

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▪ Greek legendary figure
also called  Sibylla,  
 prophetess in Greek legend and literature. Tradition represented her as a woman of prodigious old age uttering predictions in ecstatic frenzy, but she was always a figure of the mythical past, and her prophecies, in Greek hexameters, were handed down in writing. In the 5th and early 4th centuries BC, she was always referred to in the singular; Sibylla was treated as her proper name, and she was apparently located in Asia Minor. From the late 4th century the number of sibyls was multiplied; they were localized traditionally at all the famous oracle centres and elsewhere, particularly in association with Apollo, and were distinguished by individual names, “sibyl” being treated as a title.

      In a legend about the sibyl of Cumae in Italy, she accompanied Aeneas on his journey to the Underworld (Virgil's Aeneid, Book VI). According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a famous collection of sibylline prophecies, the Sibylline Books, was offered for sale to Tarquinius (Tarquin) Superbus, the last of the seven kings of Rome, by the Cumaean sibyl. He refused to pay her price, so the sibyl burned six of the books before finally selling him the remaining three at the price she had originally asked for all nine. The books were thereafter kept in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, to be consulted only in emergencies. They were destroyed in the fire of 83 BC.

      A Judaean or Babylonian sibyl was credited with writing the Judeo-Christian Sibylline Oracles of which 14 books survive. The sibyl came thus to be regarded by some Christians as a prophetic authority comparable to the Old Testament. On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo alternated sibyls and prophets. In the medieval hymn Dies Irae, the sibyl is the equal of David as a prophet.

▪ queen of Jerusalem
French  Sibylle  
born 1160
died , autumn 1190

      queen of the crusader state of Jerusalem (1186–90).

      The daughter of Amalric I, Sibyl succeeded to the throne upon the death of her brother, Baldwin IV (1185). Baldwin had intended for the throne to pass directly to Sibyl's son Baldwin V, but Sibyl and her husband, Guy de Lusignan, conspired to seize the throne for themselves, embroiling the kingdom in a disastrous war with Saladin.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Sibyl — Sib yl, n. [L. sibylla, Gr. ????.] 1. (Class. Antiq.) A woman supposed to be endowed with a spirit of prophecy. [1913 Webster] Note: The number of the sibyls is variously stated by different authors; but the opinion of Varro, that there were ten …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sibyl — steht für: HMS Sibyl (P217), britisches U Boot im Zweiten Weltkrieg eine englische Form des Vornamens Sibylle Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichneter Begr …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sibyl — [sib′əl] n. [L Sibylla: see SIBYL] a feminine name: var. Sybil …   English World dictionary

  • Sibyl — f English: variant spelling of SYBIL (SEE Sybil). Even in classical times there was confusion between the vowels in this word. Variants: Sibylla (Latinate form, common in Denmark and Sweden); Sibilla; Sibella (by association with the Italian… …   First names dictionary

  • sibyl — c.1300, from O.Fr. sibile, from L. Sibylla, from Gk. Sibylla, name for any of several prophetesses consulted by ancient Greeks and Romans, of uncertain origin. Said to be from Doric Siobolla, from Attic Theoboule divine wish …   Etymology dictionary

  • sibyl — ► NOUN 1) (in ancient times) a woman supposedly able to utter the oracles and prophecies of a god. 2) literary a woman able to foretell the future. DERIVATIVES sibylline adjective. ORIGIN Greek Sibulla …   English terms dictionary

  • sibyl — [sib′əl] n. [ME sibille < L sibylla < Gr] 1. any of certain women consulted as prophetesses by the ancient Greeks and Romans 2. a fortuneteller …   English World dictionary

  • Sibyl — The word sibyl probably comes (via Latin) from the Greek word sibylla , meaning prophetess. (Other schools of thought suggest that the word may have come from Arabic.) The earlier oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, who… …   Wikipedia

  • Sibyl — /sib euhl/, n. a female given name. Also, Sibylle. * * * Prophetess of Greek legend. She was a figure of the mythical past whose prophecies, phrased in Greek hexameters, were handed down in writing. In the late 4th century BC, the number of… …   Universalium

  • sibyl — noun A pagan female oracle or prophetess, especially the . A sibyl, that had numberd in the world …   Wiktionary

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