Apocrypha: Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles 3

milton s. terry



Introduction, 1-10. Unity and power of God extolled, 11-34. Oracle against idolatry and sin, 35-64. Coming and judgment of the great King, 55-76. Coming of Beliar, 76-90. Reign of the woman and end of the world, 90-111. All things subject to Christ, 112-116. The tower of Babel, 117-132. Cronos, Titan, and Iapetus, 132-154. Cronos, Rhea, and the Titans, 155-187. End of the Titans and rise of many kingdoms, 188-196. The Sibyl’s message, 196-201. Rule of the house of Solomon, 202-207. Rule of the Hellenes, 208-212. The Western Kingdom, 213-235. The Sibyl’s burden, 236-241. Woes on the Titans and on many nations, 242-260. The righteous race, 261-303. The exodus and giving of the law, 304-325. Desolation and exile, 325-351. Restoration from exile, 352-361. The Sibyl ceases and begins again, 362-371. Woe on Babylon, 372-386. Woe on Egypt, 387-392. Woe on Gog and Magog, 393-397. Woe on Libya, 399-412. Great signs and woes on many cities, 413-433. Retributive judgment on Rome, 434-450. Doom of Smyrna, Samos, Delos, and Rome, 461-456. Peace of Asia and Europe, 457-473. The Macedonian woe, 474-482. The unnamed rulers. 483-499. The sign for Phrygia, 600-615. The fate of Ilium, 516-522. gongs of the blind old man, 523-541. Woes of Lycia, Chalcedon, Cyzicus, Byzantium, Rhodes, Lydia, Samos, Cyprus, and Trallis, 642-582. Italy’s tribal wars, 683-590. Woes of Laodicea, Campania, Corsica, and Sardinia, 591-607. Woes of Mysia, Chalcedon, Galatia, Tenedos, Sicyon, and Corinth, 608-615. The Sibyl ceases and begins again, 616-619. Woes of Phœnicia, Crete, Thrace, Gog, Magog, Maurians, Ethiopians, and provinces of Asia Minor, 620-656. Oracles against Greece, 657-723. The holy race, 724-756, Egypt subdued, 766-774. Time of blessedness, 775-783. Exhortation to worship God, 184-794. Time of judgment, 795-816. The god-sent king, 817-829. Fearful time of judgment, 830-871. The Sibyl’s testimony, 872-876. A Jewish millennium, 877-911. Exhortation to the Greek s, 912-928. Day of prosperity and peace, 928-947. Exhortation to serve God, 948-953. The Messianic day, 954-988. Signs of the end, 989-1003. The Sibyl’s account of herself, 1004-1031.


O THOU high-thundering blessed heavenly One,
Who hast set in their place the cherubim,
I, who have uttered what is all too true,
Entreat thee, let me have a little rest;
5 For my heart has grown weary from within.
But why again leaps my heart, and my soul
With a whip smitten from within constrained
To utter forth its message unto all?
But yet again will I proclaim all things
10 Which God commands me to proclaim to men.
O men, that in your image have a form
Fashioned of God, why do ye vainly stray

[1. This third book of the Oracles is the most interesting and important of the entire collection. It is by far the longest, containing in the Greek text 829 verses. It is believed to be mainly of Jewish origin. In its present form, however, it is obviously a compilation of several distinct groups of oracles, one of which, lines 117-361 (Greek text, 97-294), contains the oldest portion of the Sibylline Oracles as they now exist. Two quite extensive fragments which have been preserved by Theophilus are by him said to have stood at the beginning of the Sibyl’s prophecy and probably formed an introduction to this section of our third book (see Appendix, p. 267). In place of this more ancient introduction the compiler of our collection has inserted the first 116 lines of this book, which may be again subdivided into three parts, which appear to be so many separate fragments; lines 1-75, 76-111, 112-116. In some editions the first 75 lines (Greek text, 1-62) are appended to the preceding book, and some MSS. preface this book with the words, “Again in her third tome she says these things from the second discourse concerning God.” Other clearly distinguishable sections of this book are the following: lines 362-616, 616-1003, 1004-1031 (Greek text, 295-488, 489-808, 809-827). The last section purports to he a personal vindication of the Sibyl.]


And walk not in the straight way, always mindful
Of the immortal Maker? God is one,
15 Sovereign, ineffable, dwelling in heaven,
The self-existent and invisible,
Himself alone beholding everything;
Him sculptor’s hand made not, nor is his form
Shown by man’s art from gold or ivory;
20 But he, eternal Lord, proclaims himself
As one who is and was erst and shall be
Again hereafter. For who being mortal
Can see God with his eyes? Or who shall bear
To hear the only name of heaven’s great God,
25 The ruler of the world? He by his word
Created all things, even heaven and sea,
And tireless sun, and full moon and bright stars,
And mighty mother Tethys, springs and rivers,
Imperishable fire, and days and nights.
30 This is the God who formed four-lettered Adam,
The first one formed, and filling with his name
East, west, and south, and north. The same is he
Who fixed the pattern of the human form,
And made wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls.
35 Ye do not worship neither fear ye God,

[28. Mother Tethys.–Wife of Oceanus, mother of the rivers, and the nymphs, three thousand in number. See Hesiod, Theog., 335, ff.

30. Four-lettered Adam.–The ingenuity which seer, in the four letters of this name the Greek initials of the words for east, west, north, and south surpasses even that noted in book i, 102, where Hades is traced in the word Adam. But Augustine adopts this, and says: “According to the Greek tongue, Adam himself signifies the whole world. For there are four letters, A, D, A, M, and in Greek speech these are the initial letters of the four quarters of the earth.” {Greek ?Anatolh’}, east; {Greek Du’sis}, west; {Greek ?Arktos}, north; {Greek Meshmbri’a} south. Eharratio in Psalmum, xcv, 15 [L., 37, 1236]. See also Tractatus in Joannis, ix, 14, and x, 12 [L., 35, 1465, 1473].]


But vainly go astray and bow the knee
To serpents, and make offering to cats,
And idols, and stone images of men,
And sit before the doors of godless temples;
40 Ye guard him who is God, who keeps all things,
And merry with the wickedness of stones
Forget the judgment of the immortal Saviour
Who made the heaven and earth. Alas! a race
That has delight in blood, deceitful, vile,
45 Ungodly, of false, double-tongued, immoral men,
Adulterous, idolous, designing fraud,
An evil madness raving in their hearts,
For themselves plundering, having shameless soul;
For no one who has riches will impart
50 To another, but dire wickedness shall be
Among all mortals, and for sake of gain
Will many widows not at all keep faith,
But secretly love others, and the bond
Of life those who have husbands do not keep.
55 But when Rome shall o’er Egypt also rule
Governing always, then shall there appear
The greatest kingdom of the immortal King
Over men. And a holy Lord shall come
To hold the scepter over every land
60 Unto all ages of fast-hastening time.

[55. The time when Rome obtained full control of Egypt was when Augustus became the undisputed master of the regions all about the Mediterranean Sea, and the Roman empire became fully established. This empire the Sibyl recognizes as beginning about the time of the appearance of the Christ, who was born during the reign of Augustus.

58. Holy Lord shall come.–The Messiah, for no other ruler could be described by such language as the writer here employs. This passage is evidence that at least lines 55-75 are of Christian or Jewish Christian authorship.]


And then shall come inexorable wrath
On Latin men; three shall by piteous fate
Endamage Rome. And perish shall all men,
With their own houses, when from heaven shall flow
65 A fiery cataract. Ah, wretched me!
When shall that day and when shall judgment come
Of the immortal God, the mighty King?
But just now, O ye cities, ye are built
And all adorned with temples and race-grounds,
70 Markets, and images of wood, of gold,
Of silver and of stone, that ye may come
Unto the bitter day. For it shall come,
When there shall pass among all men a stench
Of brimstone. Yet each thing will I declare,
75 In all the cities where men suffer ills.
. . . . . . .
From the Sebastenes Beliar shall come
Hereafter, and the height of hills shall he
Establish, and shall make the sea stand still
And the great fiery sun and the bright moon
80 And he shall raise the dead, and many signs
Work before men: but nothing shall be brought
By him unto completion but deceit,
And many mortals shall be lead astray
Hebrews both true and choice, and lawless men

[62. Three.–One most naturally thinks here of the famous triumvirate of Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus; but it is difficult to explain the “fiery cataract” (line 65) and other pictures of judgment in immediate connection with those historic names.

76. The Sebastenes are most naturally understood of the inhabitants of Sebaste, or Samaria, and a Jewish writer living in the time of Augustus might have been readily disposed to think of a Beliar–antichrist–as issuing from among the hated Samaritans. Comp. the miracle-working antichrist of Dan. vii 25; viii, 23-25; xi, 36; and also 2 Thess. ii, 8-10.]


85 Besides who never gave ear to God’s word.
But when the threatenings of the mighty God
Shall draw near, and a flaming power shall come
By billow to the earth, it shall consume
Both Beliar and all the haughty men
90 Who put their trust in him. And thereupon
Shall the whole world be governed by the hands
Of a woman and obedient everywhere.
Then when a widow shall o’er all the world
Gain the rule, and cast in the mighty sea
95 Both gold and silver, also brass and iron
Of short lived men into the deep shall cast,
Then all the elements shall be bereft
Of order, when the God who dwells on high
Shall roll the heaven, even as a scroll is rolled;
100 And to the mighty earth and sea shall fall
The entire multiform sky; and there shall flow
A tireless cataract of raging fire,
And it shall burn the land, and burn the sea,
And heavenly sky, and night, and day, and melt
105 Creation itself together and pick out
What is pure. No more laughing spheres of light,
Nor night, nor dawn, nor many days of care,
Nor spring, nor winter, nor the summer-time,

[92-93. A woman … a widow.–If we find in the “three” of line 62 a reference to the triumvirs Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, it is but natural to understand this “widow” as Cleopatra of Egypt, who captivated by her charms both Julius Caesar and Antony. But here again the picture of world-judgment which immediately follows is difficult to account for in connection with such a mention of Cleopatra. Is not the entire passage rather an ideal apocalyptic concept, to be understood somewhat after the manner of the woman portrayed in John’s Apocalypse, xvii, 3; xviii, 7; a symbol of Rome herself conceived as the mistress of nations? Comp. book viii, 263; 165, Comp. book ii, 263; viii, 646.]


Nor autumn. And then of the mighty God
110 The judgment midway in a mighty age
Shall come, when all these things shall come to pass.
. . . . . . .
O navigable waters and each land
Of the Orient and of the Occident,
Subject shall all things be to him who comes
115 Into the world again, and therefore he
Himself became first conscious of his power.
. . . . . . .
But when the threatenings of the mighty God
Are fulfilled, which he threatened mortals once,
When in Assyrian land they built a tower;–
120 (And they all spoke one language, and resolved
To mount aloft into the starry heaven;
But on the air the Immortal straightway put
A mighty force; and then winds from above
Cast down the great tower and stirred mortals up
125 To wrangling with each other; therefore men
Gave to that city the name of Babylon);–
Now when the tower fell and the tongues of men
Turned to all sorts of sounds, straightway all earth
Was filled with men and kingdoms were divided;

[112-116. This fragment has no necessary connection with what precedes or follows, and the MSS. are defective at this point.

117-129. This passage is cited in Theophilus, ad Autol., ii, 31 [G., 6, 1101]; Josephus, Ant., i, iv, 3. Comp. Eusebius, Præp. Evang., ix, 14 [G., 21, 702, 703]. See Gen. xi, 1-9. It is one of the oldest portions of the Sibyllines, but begins abruptly, as if its natural preceding context had been omitted.

122. Winds.–“The idea that God threw down the tower by means of the winds was probably first written down by our poet, but it is really nothing but a subtile interpretation of Gen. xi, 7.”–Ewald, p. 33.]


130 And then the generation tenth appeared
Of mortal men, from the time when the flood
Came upon earlier men. And Cronos reigned,
And Titan and Iapetus; and men called them
Best offspring of Gaia and of Uranus,
135 Giving to them names both of earth and heaven,
Since they were very first of mortal men.
So there were three divisions of the earth
According to the allotment of each man,
And each one having his own portion reigned
140 And fought not; for a father’s oaths were there
And equal were their portions. But the time
Complete of old age on the father came,
And he died; and the sons infringing oaths
Stirred up against each other bitter strife,
145 Which one should have the royal rank and rule
Over all mortals; and against each other
Cronos and Titan fought. But Rhea and Gaia,
And Aphrodite fond of crowns, Demeter,
And Hestia and Dione of fair locks
150 Brought them to friendship, and together called
All who were kings, both brothers and near kin,
And others of the same ancestral blood,

[130. Generation tenth.–Cited by Athenagoras, Legatio pro Christianis, xxx. [G., 6, 960], and Tertul., ad Nationes, ii, 12 [L., 1, 603]. In citing this passage Tertullian thus speaks of the Sibyl: “The Sibyl was earlier than all literature, that Sibyl, I mean, who was the true prophetess of truth. In hexameter verse she thus expounds the descent and exploits of Saturn.”

132. Cronos.–Greek name for the more familiar Latin title Saturn. The story of the Titans in the following lines (132-187) is familiar to students of Greek mythology, but the old myth exists with numerous minor variations, and, according to Hesiod (Theog., 453-500), the birth and preservation of Zeus were somewhat different from this story.]


And they judged Cronos should reign king of all,
For he was oldest and of noblest form.
155 But Titan laid on Cronos mighty oaths
To rear no male posterity, that he
Himself might reign when age and fate should come
To Cronos. And whenever Rhea bore
Beside her sat the Titans, and all males
160 In pieces tore, but let the females live
To be reared by the mother. But When now
At the third birth the august Rhea bore,
She brought forth Hera first; and when they saw
A female offspring, the fierce Titan men
165 Betook them to their homes. And thereupon
Rhea a male child bore, and having bound
Three men of Crete by oath she quickly sent
Him into Phrygia to be reared apart
In secret; therefore did they name him Zeus,
170 For he was sent away. And thus she sent
Poseidon also secretly away.
And Pluto, third, did Rhea yet again,
Noblest of women, at Dodona bear,
Whence flows Europus’ river’s liquid course,
175 And with Peneus mixed pours in the sea
Its water, and men call it Stygian.

[173-176. There was a Dodona in Epirus, ruins of which found near Jaunina were excavated in 1896; there was also a Dodona in northern Thessaly, and each of these places was the seat of an ancient and celebrated oracle. The Sibylline writer does not distinguish between the two. Europus is another name for the Titaresius, which, according to Strabo (Geog. ix, 5, 19; and Fragment 15) was a tributary to the Peneus, and flowed with it through the vale of Tempe to the sea. Comp. Homer, Iliad ii, 750-755, where mention is made of “wintry Dodona,” and “lovely Titaresius,” which, however, does not mingle with the Peneus, because it is a broken-off portion of the Styx.]


But when the Titans heard that there were sons
Kept secretly, whom Cronos and his wife
Rhea begat, then Titan sixty youths
180 Together gathered, and held fast in chains
Cronos and his wife Rhea, and concealed
Them in the earth and guarded them in bonds.
And then the sons of powerful Cronos heard,
And a great war and uproar they aroused.
185 And this is the beginning of dire war
Among all mortals. [For it is indeed
With mortals the prime origin of war.]
And then did God award the Titans evil.
And all of Titans and of Cronos born
190 Died. But then as time rolled around there rose
The Egyptian kingdom, then that of the Persians
And of the Medes, and Ethiopians,
And of Assyria and Babylon,
And then that of the Macedonians,
195 Egyptian yet again, then that of Rome.
And then a message of the mighty God
Was set within my breast, and it bade me
Proclaim through all earth and in royal hearts
Plant things which are to be. And to my mind
200 This God imparted first, bow many kingdoms
Have been together gathered of mankind.
For first of all the house of Solomon
Shall include horsemen of Phœnicia
And Syria, and of the islands too,
205 And the race of Pamphylians and Persians
And Phrygians, Carians, and Mysians

[202. House of Solomon.–The kingdom of Solomon is here made to rule over nations which Old Testament history never mentions as subject to Israel. Comp. 1 Kings iv, 21. But the poet wishes to magnify that realm.]


And the race of the Lydians rich in gold.
And then shall Hellenes, proud and impure,
Then shall a Macedonian nation rule,
210 Great, shrewd, who as a fearful cloud of war
Shall come to mortals. But the God of heaven
Shall utterly destroy them from the depth.
And then shall be another kingdom, white
And many-headed, from the western sea,
215 Which shall rule much land, and shake many men,
And to all kings bring terror afterwards,
And out of many cities shall destroy
Much gold and silver; but in the vast earth
There will again be gold, and silver too,
220 And ornament. And they will oppress mortals;
And to those men shall great disaster be,
When they begin unrighteous arrogance.
And forthwith in them there shall be a force
Of wickedness, male will consort with male,
225 And children they will place in dens of shame;
And in those days there shall be among men
A great affliction, and it shall disturb
All things, and break all things, and fill all things
With evils by a shameful covetousness,
230 And by ill-gotten wealth in many lands,

[208. Hellenes.–The Græco-Macedonian kingdom is here evidently intended.

213. Another kingdom.–That of Rome, here called white, or brilliant, in allusion to the white toga worn by the Roman magistrates. Competitors for office were called candidati, because of the white robe in which they presented themselves. Martial (Epig., viii, 65, 6) speaks of candida cultu Roma–“Rome white in apparel,” The epithet many-headed has been supposed to point to Rome while she was yet a republic and had her hundred or more senators as rulers. But there may be an allusion to the biblical symbolism of Dan. vii, 6, and Rev. xiii, 1.]


But most of all in Macedonia.
And it shall stir up hatred, and all guile
Shalt be with them even to the seventh kingdom,
Of which a king of Egypt shall be king
235 Who shall be a descendant from the Greeks.
And then the nation of the mighty God
Shall be again strong and they shall be guides
Of life to all men. But why did God place
This also in my mind to tell: what first,
240 And what next, and what evil last shall be
On all men? Which of these shall take the lead?
First on the Titans will God visit evil.
For they shall pay to mighty Cronos’s sons
The penal satisfaction, since they bound
245 Both Cronos and the mother dearly loved.
Again shall there be tyrants for the Greeks
And fierce kings overweening and impure,
Adulterous and altogether bad;
And for men shall be no more rest from war.
250 And the dread Phrygians shall perish all,
And unto Troy shall evil come that day.
And to the Persians and Assyrians
Evil shall straightaway come, and to all Egypt
And Libya and the Ethiopians,
255 And to the Carians and Pamphylians–

[233. Seventh kingdom.–Or seventh king (comp. line 765) of the Greek Egyptian dynasty. This would point to Ptolemy Philometer it we reckon Alexander the Great as the first king, but Ptolemy Physcon if the line of the Ptolemies alone are reckoned. Ewald adopts this latter view, Alexandre the former. All the Ptolemies were of Greek (or Macedonian) origin.

237. Again strong.–The writer seems in the spirit and hope of Old Testament prophets to conceive a triumph for the chosen people, is following hard upon the evils of his own time.

242-245.–This passage is in part a repetition of lines 188-190 above.]


Evil to pass from one place to another,
And to all mortals. Why now one by one
Do I speak forth? But when the first receive
Fulfillment, then straightway shall come on men
260 The second. So the very first I’ll tell.
There shall an evil come to pious men
Who dwell by the great temple of Solomon
And who are progeny of righteous men.
Alike of all these also I will tell
265 The tribe and line of fathers and homeland–
All things with care, O mortal shrewd in mind.
There is a city . . . on the earth,
Ur of the Chaldees, whence there is a race
Of men most righteous, to whom both good will
270 And noble deeds have ever been a care.
For they have no concern about the course
Of the sun’s revolution, nor the moon’s,
Nor wondrous things beneath the earth, nor depth
Of joy-imparting sea Oceanus,
275 Nor signs of sneezing, nor the wings of birds,
Nor soothsayers, nor wizards, nor enchanters,
Nor tricks of dull words of ventriloquists,
Neither do they astrologize with skill
28 Of the Chaldeans, nor astronomize;
O For these are all deceptive, in so far
As foolish men go seeking day by day
Training their souls unto no useful work;

[266. Mortal shrewd.–Comp. i, 8.

267.–The passage is corrupt, and the reading adopted in our version is to some extent conjectural, but has some support in manuscripts and suits the context. The critical student should consult Alexandre’s note in his edition of 1841, p. 111. On “Ur of the Chaldees” see Gen. xi, 31. Others, however, following another conjectural reading, understand the city to be Jerusalem. So Ewald, p. 21.]


And then did they teach miserable men
Deceptions, whence to mortals on the earth
285 Come many evils leading them astray
From good ways and just deeds. But they have care
For righteousness and virtue, and not greed,
Which breeds unnumbered ills to mortal men,
War and unending famine. But with them
290 Just measure, both in fields and cities, holds,
Nor steal they from each other in the night,
Nor drive off herds of cattle, sheep, and goats,
Nor neighbor remove landmarks of a neighbor,
Nor any man of great wealth grieve the one
295 Less favored, nor to widows cause distress,
But rather aids them, ever helping them
With wheat and wine and oil; and always does
The rich man in the country send a share
At the time of the harvests unto them
300 That have not, but are needy, thus fulfilling
The saying of the mighty God, a hymn
In legal setting; for the Heavenly One
Finished the earth a common good for all.
Now when the people of twelve tribes depart
305 From Egypt, and with leaders sent of God
Nightly pursue their way by a pillar of fire
And during all the day by one of cloud,
For them then God a leader will appoint–
A great man, Moses, whom a princess found
310 Beside a marsh, and carried off and reared
And called her son. And at the time he came
As leader for the people whom God led
From Egypt unto the. steel) Sinai mount,

[303. Repeated in line 321 below.]


His own law God delivered them from heaven
315 Writing on two flat stones all righteous things
Which he enjoined to do; and if, perchance,
One give no heed, he must unto the law
Make satisfaction, either at men’s hands
Or, if men’s notice he escape, he shall
320 By ample satisfaction he destroyed.
[For the Heavenly finished earth a common good
For all, and in all hearts as best gift thought.]
To them alone the bounteous field yields fruit
A hundredfold from one, and thus completes
325 God’s measure. But to them shall also come
Misfortune, nor do they escape from plague.
And even thou, forsaking thy fair shrine,
Shalt flee away when it becomes thy lot
To leave the holy land. And thou shalt be
330 Carried to the Assyrians, and shalt see
Young children and wives serving hostile men;
And every means of life and wealth shall perish;
And every land shall be filled up with thee,
And every sea; and everyone shall be
335 Offended with thy customs; and thy land
Shall all be desert; and the altar fenced
And temple of the great God and long walls
Shall all fall to the ground, since in thy heart
The holy law of the immortal God
340 Thou didst not keep, but, erring, thou didst serve
Unseemly images, and didst not fear
The immortal Father, God of all mankind,
Nor will to honor him; but images
Of mortals thou didst honor Therefore now

[324, 324. Hundredfold . . . God’s measure.–Comp. Gen. xxvi, 12; 2 Sam. xxiv, 3; Matt. xix, 29; Luke viii, 8.]


345 Of time seven decades shall thy fruitful land
And the wonders of thy temple all be waste.
But there remains for thee a goodly end
And greatest glory, as the immortal God
Granted thee. But do thou wait and confide
350 In the great God’s pure laws, when he shall lift
Thy wearied knee upright unto the light.
And then will God from heaven send a king
To judge each man in blood and light of fire.
There is a royal tribe, the race of which
355 Shall be unfailing; and as times revolve
This race shall bear rule and begin to build
God’s temple new. And all the Persian kings
Shall aid with bronze and gold and well-wrought iron.
For God himself will give the holy dream
360 By night. And then the temple shall again
Be, as it was before. . . .

[345. Seven decades.–See Jer. xxv, 9-12.

352. The king here referred to is perhaps best explained of Cyrus, and the description should be compared with Isa. xliv, 28; xlv, 14. Ewald (p. 32) understands the king to be the Messiah, and, indeed, the language of lines 352 and 353 (Greek text, 286, 287), taken apart from the context, naturally suggests a supernatural ruler and judge. The poet may have intended to connect the advent of the Messiah with the restoration of the Jews and the rebuilding of their temple. But the context here and in the parallel passage, lines 817-826 below, points rather to Cyrus, whom Isaiah calls the anointed one of Jehovah and represents as the conqueror of nations, “saying of Jerusalem, She shall be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.”

954. Royal tribe.–Judah, which returned from Babylonian exile, and under Zerubbabel, a descendant of the house of David (Matt. i, 12; Luke iii, 27), rebuilt the temple.

357, 358 Kings shall aid.–Comp. Ezra i, 4; vi, 8; vii, 15, 16, 22.

369. The holy dream.–Perhaps alluding to the visions and prophecies of Zechariah and Haggai (comp. Ezra v, i).]


Now when my soul had rest from inspired song,
And I prayed the great Father for a rest
From constraint; even in my heart again
365 Was set a message of the mighty God
And he bade me proclaim through all the earth
And plant in royal minds things yet to be.
And in my mind God put this first to say
How many lamentable sufferings
370 The Immortal purposed upon Babylon
Because she his great temple had destroyed.
Alas, alas for thee! O Babylon,
And for the offspring of the Assyrian men!
Through all the earth the rush of sinful men
375 Shall some time come, and shout of mortal men
And stroke of the great God, who inspires songs,
Shall ruin every land. For high in air to thee
O Babylon, shall it come from above,
And out of heaven from holy ones to thee
380 Shall it come down, and the soul in thy children
Shall the Eternal utterly destroy.
And then shalt thou be, as thou wast before,
As one not born; and then shalt thou be filled
Again with blood, as thou thyself before
385 Didst shed that of good, just, and holy men,
Whose blood yet cries out to the lofty heaven.
To thee, O Egypt, shall a great blow come

[362. When my soul had rest.–Comp. similar exordiurn in lines 1-10, 196-201, and 616-619. The passage beginning here and ending with line 615 forms a section by itself, and is regarded by Alexandre as an interpolation belonging to the times of the Antonines. Others, however, find in it evidences of a pre-Christian date.

372. Babylon.–Comp. how Jeremiah (xxv, 12) passes from the Jews’ calamities to the penal visitation of Babylon.

387. Blow.–The constant wars of the times of the Ptolemies.]


And dreadful, to thy homes, which thou didst hope
Might never fall on thee. For through thy midst
390 A sword shall pass, and scattering and death
And famine shall prevail until of kings
The seventh generation, and then cease.
Alas for thee, O land of Gog and Magog
In the midst of the rivers of Ethiopia!
395 What pouring out of blood shalt thou receive,
And house of judgment among men be called,
And thy land of much dew shall drink black blood!
Alas for thee, O Libya, and alas,
Both sea and land! O daughters of the west,
400 So shall ye come unto a bitter day.
And ye shall come pursued by grievous strife,
Dreadful and grievous; there shall be again
A dreadful judgment, and ye all shall come
By force unto destruction, for ye tore
405 In pieces the great house of the Immortal,
And with iron teeth ye chewed it dreadfully.
Therefore shalt thou then look upon thy land
Full of the dead, some of them fallen by war
And by the demon of all violence,
410 Famine and plague, and some by barbarous foes.
And all thy land shall be a wilderness,

[392. Seventh.–See line 233, and note.

393. Gog and Magog.–Names derived from Ezek. xxxviii, 2. Comp. Rev. xx, 8. Here apparently applied as symbolical names to the Ethiopians of the Upper Nile.

399. Daughters of the west.–Roman. cities lying west of Egypt on or near the Mediterranean sea.

405. Great house.–Obvious allusion to the temple at Jerusalem and its destruction by the Romans.

406. Iron teeth.–Comp. Dan. vii, 7, 19.]


And desolations shall thy cities be.
And in the west there shall a star shine forth
Which they will call a comet, sign to men
415 Of the sword and of famine and of death,
And murder of great leaders and chief men.
And yet again there shall be among men
Greatest signs; for deep-eddying Tanais
Shall leave Mæotis’s lake, and there shall be
420 Down the deep stream a fruitful, furrow’s track,
And the vast flow shall hold a neck of land.
And there are hollow chasms and yawning pits;
And many cities, men and all, shall fall:–
In Asia–Iassus, Cebren, Pandonia,
425 Colophon, Ephesus, Nicæa, Antioch,
Syagra, Sinope, Smyrna, Myrina,
Most happy Gaza, Hierapolis, .
Astypalaia; and in Europe–Tanagra,
Clitor, Basilis, Meropeia, Antigone,
430 Magnessa, Mykene, Oiantheia.
Know then that the destructive race of Egypt
Is near destruction, and the past year then
Is better for the Alexandrians.
As much of tribute as Rome did receive

[412. Desolations.–Rzach’s text here proposed the reading {Greek e?’pma}, support, prop; but in his Corrigenda he concedes that the reading {Greek e?’phma po’lmes}, proposed by Gomperz, is far preferable. Comp. Isa. i, 7.

414. Among most nations the appearance of a comet has been regarded by the superstitious as a sign of the evils here specified.

418. Tanais.–Ancient classic name of the Don, which empties into the modern sea of Azof, the ancient Lake Mæotis.

424-430. These names of cities are inserted in the translation in the order in which they stand in Rzach’s text. Of course no rhythmic arrangement is practicable.

434-450. This prophecy of the subjugation of Rome by Asia is referred {footnote p. 73} to by Lactantius, Div. Inst., vii, 15 [L., 6, 787-790], who declares that “the Sibyls openly say that Rome shall perish, and that too by the judgment of God, because she held his name in contempt, was an enemy of righteousness, and slew a people that was a keeper of truth.” Previously, in the same chapter, he says: “The Roman name by which the world is now ruled shall be taken from the earth, and the power will revert to Asia, and the East will again rule, and the West will be in subjection.” The “virgin” addressed in line 442, being a “child of Latin Rome,” cannot without unnatural violence be understood of “the virgin daughter of the true God, the community of Israel, which, while inflicting divine punishment, also contributes to the true welfare” (Ewald, p. 19), but is rather a poetical name for Rome herself. The “mistress,” in line 446, is understood by Alexandre of the goddess Fortune, whom Horace (Od., i, 35) addresses as able “in a moment either to lift a mortal body from the lowest place, or to turn the noblest triumphs into funeral scenes.”]


435 Of Asia, even thrice as many goods
Shall Asia back again from Rome receive,
And her destructive outrage pay her back.
As many as from Asia ever served
A house of the Italians, twenty times
440 As many Italians shall in Asia serve
In poverty, and numerous debts incur.
O virgin, soft rich child of Latin Rome,
Oft at thy much-remembered marriage feasts
Drunken with wine, now shalt thou be a slave
445 And wedded in no honorable way.
And oft shall mistress shear thy pretty hair,
And wreaking satisfaction cast thee down
From heaven to earth, and from the earth again
Raise thee to heaven, for mortals of low rank
450 And of unrighteous life are held fast bound.
And of avenging Smyrna overthrown
There shall be no thought, but by evil plans
And wickedness of them that have command


Shall Samos be sand, Delos shall be dull,
455 And Rome a room; but the decrees of God
Shall all of them be perfectly fulfilled.
And a calm peace to Asian land shall go.
And Europe shall be happy then, well fed,
Pure air, full of years, strong, and undisturbed
460 By wintry storms and hail, bearing, all things,
Even birds and creeping things and beasts of earth.
O happy upon earth shall that man be
Or woman; what a home unspeakable
Of happy ones! For from the starry heaven
465 Shall all good order come upon mankind,
And justice, and the prudent unity
Which of all things is excellent for men,
And kindness, confidence, and love of guests;
But far from them shall lawlessness depart,
470 Blame, envy, wrath, and folly; poverty
Shall flee away from men, and force shall flee,
And murder, baneful strifes and bitter feuds,
And theft, and every evil in those days.
But Macedonia shall to Asia bear
475 A grievous suffering, and the greatest sore
To Europe shall spring up from Cronian stock,
A family of bastards and of slaves.
And she shall tame fenced city Babylon,

[454, 455. These lines contain a notable play on the names Samos, Delos, and Rome. Comp. also book iv, 126, and viii, 218. Comp. also Tertullian, De Pallio, ii [L., 2, 1034]; Lactantius, vii, 25 [6, 812]; Palladius, Lausiaca, cxviii [G., 34, 1227].

474-482. This passage is most naturally explained as referring to the Macedonian rule of Alexander and his successors, who endeavored to appear as haughty, world-ruling sons of Cronos (Saturn), but were, as a matter of fact, of heathen origin, ignoble, and really a bastard race. Perseus, the last of them, was truly a bastard. So Ewald, Abhandlung, p. 12.]


And of each land the sun looks down upon
480 Call herself mistress, and then come to naught
By ruinous misfortunes, having fame
In later generations distant far.
And sometime into Asia’s prosperous land
Shall come a man unheard of, shoulder-clad
485 With purple robe, fierce, unjust, fiery;
And this man he who wields the thunderbolt
Roused forwards; and all Asia shall sustain
An evil yoke, and her soil wet with rain
Shall drink much murder. But even so shall Hades
490 Destroy the unknown king; and that man’s offspring
Shall forthwith perish by the race of those
Whose offspring he himself would fain destroy;
Producing one root which the bane of men
Shall cut from ten horns, and plant by their side
495 Another plant. A father purple-clad
Shall cut a warlike father off, and Ares,
Baneful and hostile, by a grandson’s hand
Shall himself perish; and then shall the horn
Planted beside them forthwith bear the rule.
500 And unto life-sustaining Phrygia
Straightway shall there a certain token be,
When Rhea’s blood-stained race, in the great earth

[483-489. This passage seems best to describe Antiochus Epiphanes, but Alexandre understands it of Hadrian. The “thunderbolt,” in line 486 (Greek {Greek kerauno’s}), is thought by Ewald (p. 13) to be a manifest allusion to Seleucus Ceraunus, one of the predecessors of Antiochus Epiphanes, but the epithet seems more properly to denote the god of the thunder.

493-499. Here, too, the exact references are uncertain, but the imagery of being cut from ten horns is manifestly from Daniel (vii, 7, 8, 20,24), and favors the opinion that the writer had in mind one of the Syrian kings. We must not suppose, however, that these Sibylline authors were always accurate in their knowledge or exact in their descriptions.]


Blooming perennial in impervious roots,
Shall, root and branch, in one night disappear
505 With a city, men and all, of the Earth-shaker
Poseidon; which place they shall sometime call
Dorylæum, of dark ancient Phrygia,
Much-bewailed. Therefore shall that time be called
Earth-shaker; dens of earth shall he break up
510 And walls demolish. And not signs of good
But a beginning of evil shall be made;
The baneful violence of general war
Ye’ll have, sons of Æneas, Dative blood
Of Ilus from the soil. But afterwards
515 A spoil shalt thou become for greedy men.
O Ilium, I pity thee; for there shall bloom
In Sparta an Erinys very fair,
Ever-famed, noblest scion, and shall leave
On Asia and Europe a wide-spreading wave;
520 But to thee most of all she’ll bear and cause
Wailings and toils and groans; but there shall be
Undying fame with those who are to come.
And there shall be an aged mortal then,
False writer and of doubtful native land;
525 And in his eyes the light shall fade away;
Large mind and verses measured with great skill
Shall he have and be blended with two names,

[507. Dorylæum.–Situated on the river Thymbris, in Phrygia, and noted for its hot baths. The entire region round about has suffered fearfully from earthquakes. That time, according to the poet, would be so noted for earthquakes as to take the title of the Earth-shaker himself.

517. An Erinys.–Here referring to Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta, who was the occasion of the Trojan war, and is called by Vergil (Æn., ii, 573) “the common Erinys of Troy and native land.” Comp. book xi, 166.

523. Aged mortal.–Reference to the blind Homer.

627. Two names.–Besides his common name, Homer is also called “a {footnote p. 77} Chian” because the island Chios was said to be his birthplace. Possibly the reference is to Melesigenes and Mæonides, two names often applied to Homer.]


Shall call himself a Chian and shall write
Of Ilium, not truthfully, indeed,
530 But skillfully; for of my verse and meters
He will be master; for he first my books
Will open with his hands; but he himself
Will much embellish helmed chiefs of war,
Hector of Priam and Achilles, son
535 Of Peleus, and the others who have care
For warlike deeds. And also by their side
Will he make gods stand, empty-headed men,
False-writing every way. And it shall be
Glory the rather, widely spread, for them
540 To die at Ilium; but he himself
Shall also works of recompense receive.
Also to Lycia shall a Locrian race
Cause many evils. And thee, Chalcedon,
Holding by lot a strait of narrow sea,
545 Shall an Ætolian youth sometime despoil.
Cyzicus, also thy vast wealth the sea
Shall break off. And, Byzantium of Ares,
Thou some time shalt by Asia be laid waste,
And also groans and blood immeasurable
550 Shalt thou receive. And Cragus, lofty mount
Of Lycia, from thy peaks by yawning chasms
Of opened rock shall babbling water flow,
Until even Patara’s oracles shall cease.
O Cyzicus, that dwellest by Propontis
555 The wine-producing, round thee Rhyndacus

[653. Patara.–A chief city of Lycia and place of a very famous oracle of Apollo.]


Shall crash the crested billow. And thou, Rhodes,
Daughter of day, shalt long be unenslaved,
And great shall be thy happiness hereafter,
And on the sea thy power shall be supreme.
560 But afterwards a spoil shalt thou become
For greedy men, and put upon thy neck
By beauty and by wealth a fearful yoke.
A Lydian earthquake shall again despoil
The power of Persia, and most horribly
565 Shall the people of Europe and Asia suffer pain.
And Sidon’s hurtful king with battle-din
Dreadful shall work a mournful overthrow
To the seafaring Samians. On the soil
Shall slain men’s dark blood babble to the sea;
570 And wives together with the noble brides
Shall their outrageous insolence lament,
Some for their bridegrooms, some for fallen sons.
O sign of Cyprus, may an earthquake waste
Thy phalanxes away, and many souls
575 With one accord shall Hades bold in charge.
And Trallis near by Ephesus, and walls
Well made, and very precious wealth of men
Shall be dissolved by earthquake; and the land
Shall burst out with hot water; and the earth

[556. Rhodes.–The famous island off the southern coast of Caria, where now, as of old, it is said there is scarcely a day of the whole year in which the sun is not visible. Not mingling in the quarrels of Alexander’s successors, Rhodes enjoyed a considerable period of peace and prosperity, and carried an extensive commerce with Egypt. Its subsequent enslavement and downfall were mainly due to the fact that it was such a tempting spoil for greedy conquerors.

577. Very precious wealth.–Mendelssohn’s emendation approved by Rzach in his Corrigenda. The common reading of MSS. is, wealth of heavy-hearted men.]


580 Shall swallow down those who are by the fire
And stench of brimstone heavily oppressed.
And Samos shall in time build royal houses.
But to thee, Italy, no foreign war
Shall come, but lamentable tribal blood
585 Not easily exhausted, much renowned,
Shall make thee, impudent one, desolate.
And thou thyself beside hot ashes stretched,
As thou in thine own heart didst not foresee,
Shalt slay thyself. And thou shalt not of men
590 Be mother, but a nurse of beasts of prey.
But when from Italy shall come a man,
A spoiler, then, Laodicea, thou,
Beautiful city of the Carians
By Lycus’s wondrous water, falling prone,
595 Shalt weep in silence for thy boastful sire.
Thracian Crobyzi shall rise up on Hæmus.
Chatter of teeth to the Campanians comes
Because of wasting famine; Corsica
Weeps her old father, and Sardinia
600 Shall by great storms of winter and the strokes

[587. Hot ashes.–Allusion to eruptions of Vesuvius. Comp. book. iv, 172.

592. Spoiler.–L. Scipio, according to some; Nero, according to others; but the reference is uncertain. “The entire picture,” says Ewald (p. 38), “is so vast and so general that we cannot think of it as referring to an event that had already taken place.” Laodicea.–Situated on the Lycus as here described, and on the borders of Lydia, Caria, and Phrygia. It suffered much by wars and earthquakes.

595. Boastful sire.–Antiochus Theos, who named it in honor of his wife Laodice.

596. Crobyzi.–Mentioned by Strabo (vii, 5, 12) as occupying the district near Mt. Hæmus and south of the Danube.

597. Campanians.–Campania was the district of Italy south of Latium, on the seacoast. Vesuvius was near its central part.]


of a holy God sink down in ocean depths,
Great wonder to the of the sea.
Alas, alas, how many virgin maids
Will Hades wed, and of as many youths
605 Will the deep take without funeral rites!
Alas, alas, the helpless little ones
And the vast riches swimming in the sea!
O happy land of Mysians, suddenly
A royal race shall be formed. Truly now
610 Not for a long time shall Chalcedon be.
And there shall be a very bitter grief
To the Galatians. And to Tenedos
Shall there a last but greatest evil come.
And Sicyon, with strong yells, and Corinth, thou
615 Shalt boast o’er all, but flute shall sound like strain.
. . . . . . .
Now, when my soul had. rest from inspired song.
Even again within my heart was set
A message of the mighty God, and he
Commanded me to prophesy on earth.
620 Woe, woe to the race of Phœnician men
And women, and all cities by the sea;
Not one of you shall in the common light
Abide before the shining of the sun,
Nor of life shall there any longer be
625 Number and tribe, because of unjust speech
And lawless life impure which they lived,
Opening a mouth impure, and fearful words

[616. Here a new section begins, and has an exordium similar to those of lines 1-10, 196-201 and 362-371.

620. Phœnician men.–Famed for their extensive commerce. Ewald (p. 38) sees in this oracle an evidence of the bitter feeling of the author toward Phœnicia, chiefly on account of commercial rivalry.]


Deceitful and unrighteous forth,
And stood against the God, the King,
630 And opened loathsome month deceitfully
Therefore may he subdue them terribly
By strokes o’er all the earth, and bitter fate
Shall God send on them burning from the ground.
Cities and of the cities the foundations.
635 Woe, woe to thee, O Crete! To thee shall come
A very painful stroke, and terribly
Shall the Eternal sack thee; and again
Shall every land behold thee black with smoke,
Fire ne’er shall leave thee, but thou shalt be burned.
610 Woe, woe to thee, O Thrace! So shalt thou come
Beneath a servile yoke, when the Galatians
United with the sons of Dardanus
Rush on to ravage Hellas, thine shall be
The evil; and unto a foreign land
645 Much shalt thou give, not anything receive.
Woe to thee, Gog and Magog, and to all,
One after another, Mardians and Daians;
How many evils fate, shall bring on thee!
Woe also to the soil of Lycia,
650 And those of Mysia and Phrygia.
And many nations of Pamphylians,
And Lydians, Carians, Cappadocians,
And Ethiopian and Arabian men
Of a strange tongue shall fall. How now may I
655 Of each speak fitly? For on all the nations

[647. Mardians and Daians.–The Mardians were a warlike tribe which occupied the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, and the Daians, or Dahæ, were a great Scythian people whose territory lay on the southeast of the same sea. They were naturally associated in thought with Gog and Magog. Comp. line 391 above.]


Which dwell on earth the Highest shall send dire plague.
When now again a barbarous nation comes
Against the Greeks it shall slay many heads
Of chosen men; and they shall tear in pieces
660 Many fat flocks of sheep of men, and herds
Of horses and of mules and lowing kine;
And well-made houses shall they burn with fire
Lawlessly; and unto a foreign land
Shall they by force lead many slaves away,
665 And children, and deep-girded women soft
From bridal chambers creeping on before
With delicate feet; and they shall be bound fast
With fetters by their foes of foreign tongue,
Suffering all fearful outrage; and to them
670 There shall not be one to supply the toil
Of battle and come to their help in life.
And they shall see their goods and all their wealth
Enrich the enemy; and there shall be
A trembling of the knees. And there shall fly
675 A hundred, and one shall destroy them all;
And five shall rout a mighty company;
But they, among themselves mixed shamefully,
Shall by war and dire tumult bring delight
To enemies, but sorrow to the Greeks.
680 And then upon all Hellas there shall be
A servile yoke; and war and pestilence
Together shall upon all mortals come.
And God will make the mighty heaven on high
Like brass and over all the earth a drought,

[657. The passage beginning here is best explained as referring to the subjugation of Greece by the Romans, B. C. 146.

675. Comp. Lev. xxvi, 8; Dent. xxxii, 30; Isa. xxx, 17.]


685 And earth itself like iron. And thereupon
Shall mortals all lament the barrenness
And lack of cultivation; and on earth
Shall he set, who created heaven and earth,
A much-distressing fire; and of all men
690 The third part only shall thereafter be.
O Greece, why hast thou trusted mortal men
As leaders, who cannot escape from death?
And wherefore bringest thou thy foolish gifts
Unto the dead and sacrifice to idols?
695 Who put the error in thy heart to do
These things and leave the face of God the mighty?
Honor the All-Father’s name, and let it not
Escape thee. It is now a thousand years,
Yea, and five hundred more, since haughty kings
700 Ruled o’er the Greeks, who first to mortal men
Introduced evils, setting up for worship
Images many of gods that are dead,
Because of which ye were taught foolish thoughts.
But when the anger of the mighty God
705 Shall come upon you, then ye’ll recognize
The face of God the mighty. And all souls
Of men, with mighty groaning lifting up
Their hands to the broad heaven, shall begin
To call the great King helper, and to seek
710 The rescuer from great wrath who is to be.

[690. Third part.–Comp. Ezek. v, 2; Zech. xiii, 8; Rev. viii, 7-9. Also Lactantius, Div. Inst., vii, 16 [L., 6, 792].

691-697. Quoted (omitting one line) by Lactantius, Div. Inst., i, 15 [L., 6,196]. 698. The number here given seems to be intended not as an exact, but as a general and vaguely oracular, designation. The prophetess seems to forgot her time and place as the daughter-in-law of Noah, to which she pretends in the closing lines of this book.]


But come and learn this and store in your hearts,
What troubles in the rolling years shall come.
And what as whole burnt-offering Hellas brought
Of cows and bellowing bulls unto the temple
715 Of the great God, she from ill-sounding war
And fear and pestilence shall flee away
And from the servile yoke escape again.
But until that time there shall be a race
Of godless men, even when that fated day
720 Shall reach its end. For offering to God
Ye should not make till all things come to pass,
Which God alone shall purpose not in vain
To be all fulfilled; and strong force shall urge.
And there shall be again a holy race
725 Of godly men who, keeping to the counsels
And mind of the Most High, shall honor much
The great God’s temple with drink-offerings,
Burnt-offerings, and holy hecatombs,
With sacrifices of fat bulls, choice rams,
730 Firstlings of sheep and the fat thighs of lambs,
Sacredly offering whole burnt-offerings
On the great altar. And in righteousness,
Having obtained the law of the Most High,
Blest shall they dwell in cities and rich fields.
735 And prophets shall be set on high for them
By the Immortal, bringing great delight
Unto all mortals. For to them alone
The mighty God his gracious counsel gave
And faith and noblest thought within their hearts;
740 They have not by vain things been led astray,

[730. Fat thighs.–This conjectural reading of Mendelssohn ({Greek mh~ra} instead of {Greek mh~la}) is approved by Rzach in his Addenda et Corrigenda.]


Nor pay they honor to the works of men
Made of gold, brass, silver, and ivory,
Nor statues of dead gods of wood and stone
[Besmeared clay, figures of the painter’s art],
745 And all that empty-minded mortals will;
But they lift up their pure arms unto heaven,
Rise from the couch at daybreak, always hands
With water cleanse, and honor only Him
Who is immortal and who ever rules,
750 And then their parents; and above all men
Do they respect the lawful marriage-bed;
And they have not base intercourse with boys,
As do Phœnicians, Latins, and Egyptians
And spacious Greece, and nations many more
755 Of Persians and Galatians and all Asia,
Transgressing the immortal God’s pure law
Which they were under. Therefore on all men
Will the Immortal put bane, famine, pains,
Groans, war, and pestilence and mournful woes;
760 Because they would not honor piously
The immortal Sire of all men, but revered
And worshiped idols made with hands, which things
Mortals themselves will cast down and for shame
Conceal in clefts of rocks, when a young king,
765 The seventh of Egypt, shall rule his own land,
Reckoned from the dominion of the Greeks,
Which countless Macedonian men shall rule;
And there shall come from Asia a great king,

[741-750. Cited by Clem. Alex., Cohort., vi [G., 8, 176].

757. For the text see Rzach’s Addenda et Corrigenda.

764. Young king.–Or new king; Ptolemy Philometer, the seventh from Alexander, including the latter, as the poet evidently intends.

168. Great king.–Antiochus Epiphanes, who invaded Egypt B. C. 170, and carried off Ptolemy Philometer as prisoner.]


A fiery eagle, who with foot and horse
770 Shall cover all the land, cut up all things,
And fill all things with evils; he will cast
The Egyptian kingdom down; and taking off
All its possessions carry them away
Over the spacious surface of the sea.
775 And then shall they before, the mighty God,
The King immortal, bend the fair white knee
On the much-nourishing earth; and all the works
Made with hands shall fall by a flame of fire.
And then will God bestow great joy on men;
780 For land and trees and countless flocks of sheep
Their genuine fruit to men shall offer–wine,
And the sweet honey, and white milk, and wheat,
Which is for mortals of all things the best.
But thou, O mortal full of various wiles,
485 Do not delay and loiter, but do thou,
Tossed to and fro, turn and propitiate God.
Offer to God Your hecatombs of bulls
And firstling lambs and goats, as times revolve.
But him propitiate, the immortal God,
490 If haply he show mercy. For he is
The only God, and other there is none.
And honor justice and oppress no man.
For these things the Immortal doth enjoin
On miserable men. But do thou heed
795 The cause of the wrath of the mighty God,
When on all mortals there shall come the height
Of pestilence and conquered they shall meet
A fearful judgment, and king shall seize king
And wrest his land away, and nations bring
800 Ruin on nations and lords plunder tribes,

[779-783. Cited by Lactantius, Div. Inst., vii, 24 [L., 6, 811].]


And chiefs all flee into another land,
And the land change its men, and foreign rule
Ravage all Hellas and drain the rich land.
Of its wealth, and to strife among themselves
805 Because of gold and silver they shall come–
The love of gain an evil shepherdess
Will be for cities–in a foreign land.
And they shall all be without burial,
And vultures and wild beasts of earth shall spoil
810 Their flesh; and when these things are brought to pass,
Vast earth shall waste the relics of the dead.
And all unsown shall it be and unplowed,
Proclaiming sad the filth of men defiled
Many lengths of time in the revolving years,
815 And shields and javelins and all sorts of arms;
Nor shall the forest wood be cut for fire.
And then shall God send from the East a king,
Who shall make all earth cease from evil war,
Killing some, others binding with strong oaths.
820 And he will not by his own counsels do
All these things, but obey the good decrees
Of God the mighty. And with goodly wealth,
With gold and silver and purple ornament,
The temple of the mighty God again
825 Shall be weighed down; and the full-bearing earth
And the sea shall be filled full of good things.
And kings against each other shall begin

[806, 807. A parenthetic statement, occasioned by the reference to gold and silver. Comp. book ii, 136-143; viii, 21-26.

814-816. Comp. a similar statement in Lactantius, Div. Inst., vii, 26 [L., 6, 814]. See also Isa. ix, 5, and Ezek. xxxix, 9, 10, and lines 907-911, where we have the fuller form of what seems here to be fragmentary.

817. Send from the East a king.–Best explained by Cyrus. Comp. line 352 above, and Isa. xli, 2, 25.]


To hold ill will, in heart abetting evils.
Envy is not a good to wretched men.
830 But again kings of nations on this land
Shall rush in masses, bringing on themselves
Destruction; for they’ll purpose to despoil
The great God’s temple and the noblest men.
What time they reach the land, polluted kings
835 Shall set around the city each his throne
And have his people that obey not God.
And then shall God speak with a mighty voice
To all rude people of an empty mind,
And judgment from the mighty God shall come
840 Upon them, and they all shall be destroyed
By his immortal arm. And fiery swords
Shall fall front heaven on earth; and great bright lights
Shall come down flaming in the midst of men.
And in those days shall earth, all-mother, reel
845 By his immortal arm, and shoals of fish
In the deep sea, and all wild, beasts of earth,
And countless tribes of winged fowl, and all
The souls of men and every sea shall tremble
Before the face of the Immortal One,
850 And there shall be dismay. High mountain peaks
And monstrous hills shall he asunder break,
And to all shall dark Erebus appear.
And misty gorges in the lofty hills

[830. Here assuredly a new paragraph ought to begin, though Rzach’s text allows none. After the prophecy of the restoration of the temple the writer turns (lines 830-836) to the wars of the post-exile period, and the despoiling of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. With such attempts to destroy the holy people he conceives, after the manner of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. xl, 40-45), that the sudden judgment of heaven intercepts the daring and impious transgressor. Hence the sublime apocalyptic passage, lines 837-871, follows in the regular order of prophetic thought.]


Shall be full of the dead; and rocks shall stream
855 With blood and every torrent fill the plain.
And well-built walls of evil-minded men
Shall all fall to the earth, since they knew not
The law nor judgment of the mighty God,
But with a senseless soul all hurried on
860 Against the temple and raised up their spears.
And God shall judge all by war and by sword
And by fire and by overwhelming storm;
And brimstone there shall be from heaven, and stones
And great and grievous hail; and death shall come
865 Upon the quadrupeds. And then shall they
Know God, the Immortal, who performs these things;
And wailing, and upon the boundless earth
Shall be at once a shout of perishing men;
And all the unholy shall be bathed in blood;
870 And earth herself shall also drink the blood
Of the perishing, and beasts be gorged with flesh.
And all these things the great eternal God
Himself bade me proclaim. And that shall not
Be unaccomplished, or be unfulfilled,
875 Whatever only in my heart he put;
For truthful is God’s spirit in the world.
But children of the mighty God shall all
Again around the temple live in peace,
Rejoicing in those things which he shall give
880 Who is Creator, righteous Judge and King.
For he himself, great, present far and wide,
Shall be a shelter, as on all sides round
A wall of flaming fire. And they shall be
In cities and in country without war.
885 For not the hand of evil war, but rather
The Immortal shall himself be their defender


And the hand of the Holy One. And then shall all
The islands and the cities tell how much
The immortal God loves those men; for all things
890 Help them in conflict and deliver them
Heaven, and divinely fashioned sun, and moon.
[And in those days shall earth, all-mother, reel.]
Sweet word shall they send from their mouths in hymns:
“Come, falling on the earth let us all pray
895 The immortal King, and great eternal God.
To the temple let its in procession go,
Since he alone is Lord; and let us all
Meditate on the law of God most high,
Which is most righteous of all (laws) on earth.
900 And from the path of the Immortal we
Have wandered and with senseless soul we honor
Works made by hand and wooden images
Of dead men.” These things souls of faithful melt
Shall cry out: “Come, having, at the house of God
905 Fallen on our faces, let its with our hymns
Make joy to God the Father at our homes,
Supplied through all our land with arms of foes
Seven lengths of time in the revolving years;
Even shields and helmets and all sorts of arms,
910 And a great store of bows and arrows barbed;
For forest wood shall not be cut for
But, wretched Hellas, stop thy arrogance
And be wise; and entreat the Immortal One
Magnanimous, and be upon thy guard.

[900-903. Cited by Justin Martyr, Cohort. ad Græcos, xvi [G., 6, 273].

907-911. Comp. lines 815-816 above, and note.

912. Wretched Hellas.–Addressed apparently to the Greek dominion of Egypt under the Ptolemies.]


915 Send now against this city yet again
The people inconsiderate, who are come
Out of the holy land of the mighty One.
Do not move Camarina; for ’tis better
She be unmoved; a leopard from the lair,
920 Do thou not let an evil meet with thee.
But keep off, do not hold within thy breast
An arrogant and overbearing soul,
Ready for mighty contest. And serve God
The mighty, that thou mayest share those things;
925 And when that fated day shall reach its end
[And judgment of the immortal God shall come
To mortals], judgment great and power shall come
Upon men. For all-mother earth shall yield
To mortals best fruit boundless, wheat, wine, oil;
930 Also from heaven a delightful drink

[915. Send now against this city.–Several critics have proposed to read, “Send not,” and understand the passage as an exhortation to the Greeks of Egypt not to send to Jerusalem an army of Alexandrine Jews, who might be excited by bad counsel to mix up with the Palestinian wars so constantly raging between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. Such ill-advised action would be “moving Camarina,” or provoking a fierce leopard in his lair. Another view is that the oracle dates about the beginning of the rise of the Maccabees, and is an exhortation to the Ptolemies to send to Jerusalem Jewish forces, numerous in Alexandria, to help their brethren in the Holy Land. But all the attempts to make the passage fit particular persons and events involve so much of fancy and conjecture that one may well hesitate to adopt any of them.

918. Camarina.–The allusion is to the well-known story of draining the marsh of Camarina, a city of southern Sicily. The inhabitants, disregarding the oracle, drained the neighboring marsh, which was believed to breed pestilence, and by so doing they opened a way for their enemies to come and destroy their city. Hence the proverb, “Move not Camarina,” was equivalent to: Do not seek to remove one evil in a way that is likely to bring on another and greater one. Comp. Vergil, Æn., iii, 701.]


Of honey and trees shall give their fruit,
And fatted sheep and cattle there shall be,
Young lambs and kids of goats; earth shall break forth
With sweet springs of white milk; and of good things
935 The cities shall be full and fat the fields;
Nor sword nor uproar shall be on the earth;
No more shall earth groan heavily and quake;
Nor shall war longer be on earth, nor drought,
Nor famine, nor the fruit-destroying hail;
940 But great peace, shall be upon all the earth,
And king to king be friend until the end
Of the age, and o’er all earth common law
Will the Immortal in the starry heaven
Perfect for men, touching whatever things
945 Have been by miserable mortals done;
For he alone is God, there is no other;
And the stern rage of men he’ll burn with fire.
But change entirely the thoughts in thy heart,
And flee unrighteous worship; serve the One
950 Who liveth; guard against adultery
And deeds of lewdness; thine own offspring rear
And do not murder; for the Immortal One
Is angry with him who in these things sins.
And then a kingdom over all mankind
955 Shall he raise up for ages, who once gave
Holy law to the pious, unto whom
He pledged to open every land, the world
And portals of the blessed, and all joys,
And mind immortal and eternal bliss.
960 And out of every land unto the house
Of the great God shall they bring frankincense
And gifts, and there shall be no other house

[948-950. Cited by Lactantius, de Ira Dei, i, xxii [L., 7, 143].]


To be inquired of by men yet to be,
But what God gave for faithful men to honor;
965 For mortal temple of the mighty God
Shall call it. And all pathways of the plain
And rough hills and high mountains and wild waves
Of the deep shall be easy in those days
For crossing and for sailing; for all peace
970 On the land of the good shall come; and sword
Shall prophets of the mighty God remove;
For they are judges and the righteous kings
Of mortals. And there shall be righteous wealth
Among mankind; for of the mighty God
975 This is the judgment and also the power.
Be of good cheer, O maiden, and be glad;
For he who made the heaven and earth gave thee
Joy in thy age. And he will dwell in thee;
And thine shall be immortal and wolves
980 And lambs shall in the mountains feed on grass
Together, and with kids shall leopards graze;
And bears shall lodge among the pasturing calves;
And the carnivorous lion shall eat chaff
At the manger like the cow; and little children
985 In bonds shall lead them; for he will make beasts
Helpless on earth. With babes shall fall asleep
Serpents, along with asps, and do no harm;
For over them shall be the hand of God.
Now tell I thee a sign exceeding clear,
990 That thou may’st know when the end of all things

[964. Cited by Lactantius, Div. Inst., iv, 6 [L., 6, 462].

976. Comp. Zech. ii, 10; ix, 9.

979-987. Comp. Isa. xi, 6-9. Cited also, with some verbal variations, by Lactantius, Div. Inst., vii, 24 [L., 6, 811].]


On earth shall be. When in the starry heaven
Swords shall by night point straight toward west and east,
Straightway shalt there be also from the heaven
A cloud of dust borne forth to all the earth,
995 And the sun’s brightness in the midst of heaven
Shall be eclipsed, and the moon’s beams appear
And come again on earth; by drops of blood
Distilling from the rocks a sign shalt be;
And in the cloud shalt ye behold a war
1000 Of foot and horse, like the chase of wild beasts
In the dense fog. This end of all things God
Shalt consummate, whose dwelling is in heaven.
But all must sacrifice to the great King.
These things I show thee, I who madly left
1005 The long walls of Assyrian Babylon
For Hellas to proclaim to all the wrath
Of God, fire sent. . . .
. . . . . . .
And that I might to mortals prophesy
Of mysteries divine. And men shalt say
1010 In Hellas that I am of foreign Land,
Of Erythre born, shameless; others say
That I’m a Sibyl, born of mother Circe
And father Gnostos raving mad and false;
But at that time when all thing come to pass
1015 Ye shall remember me, and no one more

[991-1000. Comp. with this section Josephus, Wars, vi, v, 3.

1005. Babylon.–Lactantius understood the Sibyl to predict that she would be called Erythræan, “although she was born in Babylon.” Div. Inst., i, 6 [L., 6, 145].

1013. Gnostos.–Some have thought that Glaucus is intended, the seagod and father of Deiphobe. See Vergil, Æn., vi, 36.

1014-1016. Cited by Lactantius, Div, iv, 15 [L, 6, 495].]


Shall call me mad, the great God’s prophetess,
For he showed me what happened formerly
To my ancestors; what things were the first
Those God made known to me; and in my mind
1020 Did God put all things to be afterwards,
That I might prophesy of things to come,
And things that were, and tell them unto men.
For when the world was deluged with a flood
Of waters, and one man of good repute
1025 Alone was left and in a wooden house
Sailed o’er the waters with the beasts and birds,
In order that the world might be refilled,
I was his son’s bride and was of his race
To whom the first things happened, and the last
1030 Were all made known; and thus from mine own mouth
Let all these truthful things remain declared.

[1028. His son’s bride.–Literally and strictly, I was his bride ({Greek nu’mfh}) but the word is probably employed here as in the later Greek usage, in the use of daughter-in-law. Nevertheless, in book vii, 219, the Sibyl says she had a son by her father. Compare, however, book i, 350-353; ii, 416-425. In book v, 15, she calls herself sister of Isis.]


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