Tiburtine Sibyl

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TiburtineSibylMontfoort.jpg
Engraving of the Tiburtine Sibyl by Philip Galle, after a design by Antonius Bloclandt, Antwerp, 1575

To the classical sibyls of the Greeks, the Romans added a tenth, the Tiburtine Sibyl, whose seat was the ancient Etruscan town of Tibur (modern Tivoli).

The mythic meeting of Caesar Augustus with the Sibyl, of whom he inquired whether he should be worshiped as a god, was a favored motif of Christian artists. Whether the sibyl in question was the Etruscan Sibyl of Tibur or the Greek Sibyl of Cumae is not always clear. The Christian author Lactantius had no hesitation in identifying the sibyl in question as the Tiburtine sibyl, nevertheless. He gave a circumstantial account of the pagan sibyls that is useful mostly as a guide to their identifications, as seen by 4th century Christians:

"The Tiburtine Sibyl, by name Albunea, is worshiped at Tibur as a goddess, near the banks of the Anio, in which stream her image is said to have been found, holding a book in her hand. Her oracular responses the Senate transferred into the capitol." (Divine Institutes I.vi)

An apocalyptic pseudo-prophecy exists, attributed to the Tiburtine Sibyl , written ca 380 CE, but with revisions and interpolations added at later dates [1] (http://www.carleton.ca/~jopp/3850/1-1.htm). It purports to prophesy, after the fact (see vaticinium ex eventu), the arrival of the Christian emperor, Constantine, beginning:

Then will arise a king of the Greeks whose name is Constans. He will be king of the Romans and the Greeks. He will be tall of stature, of handsome appearance with shining face, and well put together in all parts of his body...

Millenialists and anti-Semites have relished the document's suggestion that the Antichrist will be a Jew:

At that time the Prince of Iniquity who will be called Antichrist will arise from the tribe of Dan.

Ippolito d'Este rebuilt the Villa d'Este at Tibur, the modern Tivoli, from 1550 onward, and commissioned elaborate fresco murals in the Villa that celebrate the Tiburtine Sibyl, as prophesying the birth of Christ to the classical world.

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