Sibil (Gr. σίβυλλα), a name applied to several women reputed prophetic in the ancient mythical period. Some authors say there were four, others ten, viz. : the Babylonian, the Libyan, the Delphian, the Cimmerian, the Erythraean, the Samian, the Cumaean (sometimes identified with the Erythraean), the Hel-lespontian or Trojan, the Phrygian, and the Tiburtine. Counsel and help were sought from them under the belief that they were able to predict, to avert calamities, and to appease the gods. The most famous of all was the Cumaean sibyl, so called from Cuma3, her residence in Campania. According to an ancient Roman legend, she offered to sell Tar-quinius Priscus nine books, which the king refused. Burning three, she offered the remaining six for the same price that she had asked for the nine; refused again, she burned three more, and still demanded the same price for the remaining three. The king purchased these, and the sibyl vanished. They were the famous sibylline books, and were preserved in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, in care of two officers (duumviri), afterward 10 (decemviri), and finally 15 (quindecemviri), who alone, directed by the senate, might inspect their contents. Of these nothing definite is known.
The sibylline books having perished when the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was burned in 83 B. C, a new collection was compiled by ambassadors sent to the various sibylline oracles in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor, and was deposited in the new temple of Jupiter. In the reign of Augustus spurious prophetic books multiplied in private hands, and the emperor ordered 2,000 of them to be burned. Those volumes in custody of the state, revised by Tiberius, were preserved in two gilt chests in the temple of Apollo. Eight books of apocryphal Christian literature, collected after the 2d century, entitled "Sibylline Oracles," and still extant, consist of a heterogeneous mixture of heathen, Jewish, and Christian poems. An edition of these books was published by Gallaaus in 1689 (4to, Amsterdam), and fragments have been edited by Angelo Mai (Milan, 1817) and Struve (Konigsberg, 1818).