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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.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Sibyl, visit Britannica.com.
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