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Ancient writers refer to the existence of various women in such countries as Babylonia, Greece, Italy, and Egypt, through whom the gods regularly spoke. These sibyls were easy to confuse with the oracles, women who were likewise mouthpieces of the gods, at such sites as Apollo's temple at Delphi. The most famous sibyl was the Sibyl of Cumae in Italy, a withered crone who lived in a cave. Her prophecies were collected into twelve books, three of which survived to be consulted by the Romans in times of national emergencies. She is one of the five sibyls memorably depicted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
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