Monday, October 22, 2012

Ancient Female Oracles Seen As Divine

All ancient societies looked to prophecy and divination to ensure that their beliefs and activities were consistent with the will of the gods. Cosmic order could only be maintained by living a life in harmony with God.
Among the Romans, no prophetic oracle was more important or famous than the Sibyl, the prophetess of Cumae. The Sibyl was an office — like a high priestess — rather than a specific individual.
Throughout the ancient world at different times there were many women who were said to have been Sibyls, including a legendary Jewish Sibyl, the daughter-in-law of Noah, who is said to have lived at the time of the Tower of Babel.
For the Romans, however, the most venerated Sibyl prophesied from a sacred cave-temple at Cumae, near modern Naples in Italy.
The appearance of Sibylline oracles in Roman society dates back to the beginning of Roman history. 

The remarkable history of the Sibyls is recounted in H. W. Parke, "Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy" (Routledge, 1988). The surviving 14 books of Christianized Sibylline oracles have been translated in James Charlesworth, "The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" (1983), 1:317-472.

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