Delphic Sibyl

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Michelangelo's rendering of the Delphic Sibyl

The Delphic Sibyl was a legendary figure who made prophecies in the sacred precinct of Apollo at Delphi, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. According to a late source, her mother was Lamia, daughter of Poseidon.[1][2] The Delphic Sibyl was not involved in the operation of the Delphic Oracle and should be considered distinct from the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo.[3]

There were several prophetic female figures called Sibyls and male figures called Bakis (Greek spelling; Vakis) in the Graeco-Roman world. The most famous Sibyl was located at Cumae and the most famous Bakis at Boeotia. There are a number of legends about the Delphic Sibyl, though they are not necessarily all consistent. Pausanias claimed (10.14.1) that the Sibyl was "born between man and goddess, daughter of sea monsters and an immortal nymph". Others said she was the sister or daughter of Apollo.

The Sibyl came from the Troad to Delphi before the Trojan War, "in wrath with her brother Apollo", lingered for a time at Samos, visited Claros and Delos, and died in the Troad, after surviving nine generations of men. After her death, it was said that she became a wandering voice that still brought to the ears of men tidings of the future wrapped in dark riddles.

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  1. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece. Cf. 10.12.1 and onwards.
  2. ^ Pausanias Description of Greece, 1824, notes by Thomas Taylor. Cf. v.III, ch.12, pp.117–120
  3. ^ Bowden, Hugh, Classical Athens and the Delphic Oracle. Divination and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-53081-4. Cf. p.14. "They may learn about the mysterious Delphic Sibyl, a mythical prophetess unrelated to the traditions of the oracle itself."

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