Chiaroscuro woodcut from two blocks by Ugo da Carpi, copied from a design by Raphael of Urbino, Rome, 16th Century
Fine art replica giclée print © 2020 by Allen Bjorkman
The Sibyl Reading
Image Dimensions: 8 1/2 x 10 7/8 inches
Matted Dimensions: 13 x 15 3/8 inches
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In classical mythology sibyls were female prophets whose ecstatic utterances were inspired by Apollo. The Sibyl of Cumae was said to have offered Tarquineus Superbus, one of the later kings of Rome, nine books of prophesies on Rome's destiny in return for half the king's fortune. When he answered that the price was too high, she burned three books and offered him the other six at the same price. Finally, she burned three more and he paid the original price for the remaining three. The Sibylline books were placed in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill and were consulted during times of emergency. Belief in the sibyls persisted into the early Christian era, when they were accorded an authority similar to that of the Old Testament prophets. A sibyl was credited with the Sibylline Oracles, a collection of Judeo-Christian writings now believed to date from about 150 BC to AD 180.