Prophecy and Power in the Ancient World

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781468306842
  • 240  Pages
  • Adult


From myth to myth, and over thousands of years, few archetypes have so captured the imaginations of readers as that of the Sibyl. Sibyls–from the Greek word for prophetess–commanded a remarkable amount of respect and devotion in the ancient world for their ability to foretell the future. And even as they receded from myths and stories, they remained an inspiration to many of history’s greatest artists.

In his definitive and erudite book, Jorge Guillermo tracks the story of Sibyls through polytheism (in Greece and Rome), paganism, and into the seemingly disparate tenets of Christianity. With a remarkably rich set of historical and artistic examples that range from Homer to Virgil, from Boccaccio to Michelangelo, Guillermo pays tribute to the surprising and enduring history of these singular women.


“Readers with a taste for divination or spirituality will not need reminding that the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans was richly endowed with prophets and mediums promising access to the divine sphere and maybe even to the human future too. Among these, the Sibyls of Asia Minor, Greece and Italy held pride of place, and distinguished Cuban author Jorge Guillermo proves a most learned and engaging guide to the lore and legend that surrounded them then and surround them still today. It is an easy prediction that his beautifully modulated book will soon find an honored place on many a cultivated bookshelf.” —Paul Cartledge, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge, and author of The Spartans and Thermopylae
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