Sibyls in the Ancient World
A sibyl was a prophetess; one who interprested the will of Apollo. She was
mentioned for the first time by the Greek writer Heraclitus in the fifth
The Sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at,
unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice
by aid of the god.(Heraclitus, fragment 12).
He speaks of one sibyl only as does Plato.
A fourth century AD quote from a now lost first century BC text
notes that by that time there were ten. The most famous were those at Delphi, Erythrae and Cumae.
The former, who should not be confused with the Delphi oracle, was said to
have been prophesising shortly after the Trojan War. The latter, granted her gift
by the god Apollo, spurned his offer of long life and perpetual youth in exchange
for her virginity. She was condemned to die gradually and did not succumb for nine hundred years.
The Sibil.la in Mallorca