In antiquity a considerable number of books of prophecies went under the general title of "Sibylline Oracles". Rulers as significant as Augustus consulted them in time of danger or crisis for advice and prognoses. Increasing numbers of "ex post facto" prophecies, laying a particular interpretation on facts of recent history, came to be attributed to one of the mysterious Sibyls. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Cumaean Sibyl, who guides the hero in the sixth book of Vergil's "Aeneid" . In fact she was somewhat unusual in her similiarity to other oracular prophetesses, such as the Pythia. For where the latter prophesied in response to particular inquirers, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Sibyls was that they composed discursive verses for distribution to the world at large. This, Professor Parke's last book, which was virtually complete on his death in 1986, is an account of a subject both rarely treated in recent decades and difficult to access for all but the most expert. In its pursuit of the sometimes elusive Sibyls it ranges from Heraclitus to Eusebius, from Archaic Asia Minor to Christian Rome. This book should be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates and academics of classics.
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