Rabbinic writings, the Talmud, Madrash, Torah, Mishna, Tosefta, Haggada
Babylonia Talmud account of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
SIBYLLINE ORACLES--appendix with early Christian commentary
BOOK OF JASHER, Chapter 69-79 on Moses
ISAIAH'S MARTYDOM with commentary
Testament of Abraham
TESTAMENT OF ABRAHAM with commentary
Septuagint, Earliest Old Testament
Book of Jubilees, elaboration on Genesis and Exodus: part 2
Book of Jubilees: part 1, in the beginning
Book of Jubilees--Commentary
Jannes and Jambres
Old Testament & other ancient Hebrew texts with links


Sibylline Oracles

To gain understanding of the Sibylline Oracles of Christian and Jewish authors, one must turn to the Pagan origins upon which, being accepted in those days by Jews & Christians as prophetic.  In fact they didn’t in those days deny the Gods of the Pagan world, but rather said of them variously that they were devils, lesser gods, gods in rebellion against the authority of Yahweh, and that the ascriptions are essentially incorrect.  Thus a few Christians and Jews produced their own versions in the Pagan style, and these works in shortly thereafter these woks where held in high esteem. 



JK--relying upon The Oxford Classical Dictonary:

As for the Pagan Sibyl:  The world  Sibylla, of uncertain etymology, appears first in Heraclitus and was used as a proper name by the 5th cent. BC.  Specific oracles relating to events in the 4th cent. Appear to have been attributed to the Sibyl by Ephorus.  Originally the Sibyl seems to been a single prophetic women, but by the time of Heraclides a number of places claimed to be the birthplace of Sibylla.  Varro for his  Res Divinae lists ten.  Virgil offers a famous description of the Cumaean Sibyl uttering state prophecy under the inspiration of Apollo.  Legend has it that the collection first came to Rome in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, who is said to have bought three books from the Cumaean Sibyl and placed them in the care of a priestly college {The story is that he at first refused to by them, and on each day subsequent to th3e offer to sell them, she burnt one of the 6 books.  On the 4th day the king bought the remaining 3 books for the price of six}.  This collection was housed in the temple of Capitoline Jupiter, where it was destroyed in the burning of the Capitol in 83 BC.  After this the senate commissioned a board of three to make a collection from various places.  Two collections of Sibylline oracles survive from late antiquity.  The material in these collections is extremely diverse, some Christian, some Jewish, and other Pagan.  The subject matter ranges from Christian and predictions woe for cities and peoples to Roman history and sibylline biography.--jk



The standard Sibylline Oracles consist of post eventu (after-the-fact) eschatological prophecies in the genre of female prophetesses at pagan oracles. The books in their probable chronological order are:


§        §        Book 3, the earliest Jewish oracles, denounces Rome for injustice, idolatry, and homosexuality; and predicts its defeat by a Ptolemy favorable toward the Jews.

§        §        Book 5 prophesies against various nations, predicts Nero's return and defeat by a heavenly savior, condemns Rome for destroying the temple, and forecasts fiery destruction.

§        §        Book 4 predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, eruption of Vesuvius, return of Nero, and God's fiery destruction of the earth, followed by the resurrection and final judgment.

§        §        Book 11 reviews history from the Flood to the death of Cleopatra.

§        §        Books 1–2 and Book 8 adapt and incorporate Jewish oracles in Christian prophecies of final judgment.

§        §        Books 9 and 10 duplicate material in Books 1—8.

§        §        Books 6 and 7 are Christian compositions, including a hymn to Christ.

§        §        Books 12—14 are later works with no Jewish and few Christian features.


Canonical Status: Among the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha



§        §        Written under the pseudonym of a pagan, female, ecstatic prophetess of the oracle of Apollo

§        §        Anonymous Jewish and Christian authors imitating the style of the pagan sibyls — epic Greek hexameters


Date and Origin:


§        §        The earliest oracles from 1st century BC in Egypt

§        §        The latest from the 3rd century AD


Original Language: Greek



Notes prepared by George Lyons
(Professor of Biblical Literature)
for the
Wesley Center for Applied Theology
at Northwest Nazarene University

© Copyright 2000 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology


Text may be freely used for personal or scholarly purposes or mirrored on other web sites, provided the notice below the horizontal line is left intact. Any use of this material for commercial purposes of any kind is strictly forbidden without the express permission of the Wesley Center at Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, ID 83686. Contact for permission or to report errors.





Sibylline Oracles
 Encyclopædia Britannica Article

Collection of oracular prophecies in which Jewish or Christian doctrines were allegedly confirmed by a sibyl (legendary Greek prophetess); the prophecies were actually the work of certain Jewish and Christian writers from about 150 BC to about AD 180 and are not to be confused with the Sibylline Books, a much earlier collection of sibylline prophecies (see Sibyl). In the Oracles the sibyl proved her reliability by first “predicting” events that had actually recently occurred; she then predicted future events and set forth doctrines peculiar to Hellenistic Judaism or Christianity. The Jewish apologist Josephus and certain Christian apologists thought the works were the genuine prophecy of the sibyls and were greatly impressed by the way in which their doctrines were confirmed by external testimony. Both Theophilus of Antioch and Clement of Alexandria, 2nd-century Christian theologians, referred to the sibyl as a prophetess apparently no less inspired than the Old Testament prophets.

In the Byzantine period 12 of the compositions were collected in a single manuscript containing 14 books (of which numbers 9 and 10 are lost). An incomplete text of this collection was first published in 1545.

Modern scholars have dated the various Oracles by comparing the actual historical events with what was predicted in the Oracles. At the point where errors begin, the oracle-writer was predicting the future, and it is possible to assign a date from the last correct prediction.





As the translator notes, this collection should more properly titled 'the Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles'. The original Sibylline Books were closely-guarded oracular scrolls written by prophetic priestesses (the Sibylls) in the Etruscan and early Roman Era as far back as the 6th Century B.C.E. These books were destroyed, partially in a fire in 83 B.C.E., and finally burned by order of the Roman General Flavius Stilicho (365-408 C.E.).

There is very little knowledge of the actual contents of the original Sibylline Books. The texts which are presented here are forgeries, probably composed between the second to sixth century C.E. They purport to predict events which were already history or mythological history at the time of composition, as well as vague all-purpose predictions, especially woe for various cities and countries such as Rome and Assyria. They are an odd pastiche of Hellenistic and Roman Pagan mythology, including Homer and Hesiod; Jewish legends such as the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Tower of Babel; thinly veiled references to historical figures such as Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, as well as a long list of Roman Emperors; and last but not least, Gnostic and early Christian homilies and eschatological writings, all in no particular order. There may be actual residue of the original Sibylline books wedged in here and there, but this is dubious.

As prophecy, the Pseudo-Sibyllines never rise to the level of Nostradamus. However they are a gold mine for students of Classical mythology and early first millenium Jewish, Gnostic and Christian beliefs. Notable are apocalyptic passages scattered throughout which at times seem like a first draft of the Biblical Book of Revelation. The Pseudo-Sibyllines were referenced by the early Church fathers and in one instance have a Christian code-phrase in successive first letters on each line (an 'acrostic'). These books, in spite of their Pagan content, have been described as part of the Apocrypha, although they do not appear on any of the canonical lists.












{scanned at, December, 2001}

{p. 3}



THE Sibyls occupy a conspicuous place in the traditions and history of ancient Greece and Rome. Their fame was spread abroad long before the beginning of the Christian era. Heraclitus of Ephesus, five centuries before Christ, compared himself to the Sibyl "who, speaking with inspired mouth, without a smile, without ornament, and without perfume, penetrates through centuries by the power of the gods." The ancient traditions vary in reporting the number and the names of these weird prophetesses, and much of what has been handed down to us is legendary. But whatever opinion one may hold respecting the various legends, there can be little doubt that a collection of Sibylline Oracles was at one time preserved at Rome. There are, moreover, various oracles, purporting to have been written by ancient Sibyls, found in the writings of Pausanias, Plutarch, Livy, and in other Greek and Latin authors. Whether any of these citations formed a portion of the Sibylline books once kept in Rome we cannot now determine; but the Roman capitol was destroyed by fire in the time of Sulla (B. C. 84), and again in the time of Vespasian (A. D. 69), and whatever books were at those dates kept therein doubtless perished in the flames. It is said by some of the ancients that a subsequent collection of oracles was made, but, if so, there is now no certainty that any fragments of them remain.

The twelve books of Greek hexameters, of which a rhythmic English translation is furnished in the following

{p. 4}

pages, have been in existence for more than a thousand years, and may be properly called the Pseudo-Sibyllines. They belong to that large body of pseudepigraphical literature which flourished near the beginning of the Christian era (about B. C. 150-A. D. 300), and which consists of such works as the Book of Enoch, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Book of Jubilees, the Assumption of Moses, the Psalms of Solomon, the Ascension of Isaiah, and the Fourth Book of Esdras. The production of this class of literature was most notable at Alexandria in the time of the Ptolemies. The influence of Greek civilization and culture upon the large Jewish population of the Egyptian metropolis, and the marked favors shown this people in that country, turned them far from the strict usages of their Palestinian brethren. No fact could more strikingly show the results of this foreign influence than the building of the temple and altar at Leontopolis, as described by Josephus (Ant. xiii, 3). If the son of the high priest Onias saw propriety in converting a heathen temple to the worship of Almighty God, and building it after the pattern of the one in Jerusalem, we need not wonder that the religious and literary taste of the Alexandrian Jews found gratification in harmonizing Hebrew traditions and Greek philosophy. The ingenuity that found in Isa. xix, 19, a warrant for the building of such a temple and altar might easily discover among the responses of heathen oracles much that was capable of appearing to great advantage in a Jewish dress. In this way, no doubt, arose the Jewish Sibyl, assuming to be a daughter-in-law of Noah, and skilled in prophetic knowledge. And this passion for reproducing famous oracles spread beyond the land of Egypt, and gathered breadth and volume with its years of growth. Not only were the historical and philosophical productions of the Greeks made use of, but the speculations

{p. 5}

of the Persians, the mysteries of Egyptian priests, and the poetical myths and legends of all nations contributed to the medley which Hellenistic Jews were fond of turning to a pious purpose. And just as the allegorical method of interpreting Scripture was handed over as a sort of inheritance to the early Christian Church, so the passion for producing pseudonymous books took easy possession of many Christian writers of the first centuries.

Like other pseudonymous apocalypses, these Sibyllines contain evidence of being the work of a number of different authors. They are obviously a composite of Jewish and Christian elements. The citation from the Sibyl which appears in Josephus (Ant. i, iv, 3) shows that the oldest portion of our present third book (line 117, ff) must have been current before the beginning of the Christian era. The verses of the Jewish Sibyl probably originated at Alexandria, and may possibly have incorporated some fragments of more ancient oracles once included in the Sibylline books which were kept at Rome. They presented such a fascinating form of pseudepigraphical composition that not a few other writers followed the successful example and put forth verses of various merit. And so it came to pass that after a few centuries the later Jewish and the early Christian literature abounded with poetic oracles purporting to be productions of the ancient Sibyls. Many independent compositions of this kind were accordingly in circulation some time before the task was taken in hand of arranging the entire body of so-called Sibylline Oracles into one connected and orderly series. This task was undertaken by the author of what is known as the "Anonymous Preface," who combined the scattered oracles into fourteen books. The repetitions of language and sentiment now found in these different books indicate that already, before this larger task was attempted, other minor

{p. 6}

compilations had been made, and that the later compiler and editor left these smaller independent collections intact, not attempting to eliminate the repetitions, nor even to harmonize conflicting statements.

The first printed edition of the Greek text was brought out by Xystus Betuleius (Sixtus Birke) at Basel in 1545. A metrical Latin version of this by Sebastian Castalio appeared in 1546, and another edition of the Greek text, emended by the same scholar, in 1555. In 1599 Johannis Opsopœus (John Koch) published at Paris an edition of the Greek text, accompanied with the Latin version of Castalio, and with brief prolegomena and notes. But all these editions were superseded by that of Servatius Gallæus, published at Amsterdam in 1687-89, in two quarto volumes. One volume contains the Greek text, with the Latin version and extensive annotations; the other consists of dissertations on the Sibyls and their oracles. This text and translation, accompanied with numerous notes taken largely from the work of Gallæus, was republished at Venice in 1765, in the first volume of Gallandius's Collection of the Fathers. The next important contribution to the Sibyllines was the discovery in the Ambrosian library at Milan of the fourteenth book, which was published by Angelo Mai in 1817. The same distinguished prelate subsequently found in the Vatican library at Rome four books numbered xi-xiv, and published them in that city in 1828. The first to edit and publish the entire collection of twelve books (books i-viii and xi-xiv) was J. H. Friedlieb, whose single volume, issued at Leipsic in 1852, contains the entire Greek text, with a remarkably close metrical version in German, a valuable introduction, and a collection of various readings. A still more complete and critical edition is that of C. Alexandre, whose first volume appeared at Paris in 1841, and contains the Greek text

{p. 7}

and a Latin version of the first eight books, and extensive critical and exegetical notes. Two subsequent volumes (Paris, 1853 and 1856) supplied the remaining books, seven Excursus, and a bibliography of the Sibylline literature. A new edition, condensing the material of his previous dissertations and presenting all in a single volume, appeared at Paris in 1869.

The latest and most improved edition of the Greek text of the twelve books now extant is that of Aloisius Rzach, published at Vienna in 1891. The editor had prepared himself for his task by extensive studies in the department of the later Greek literature. His work has not escaped criticism, especially on account of its numerous conjectural emendations, but it is to-day undoubtedly, as a whole, the best edition of the Greek text in existence. Whatever improvements future editors may make, this product of indefatigable labor is not likely to be soon superseded.

The following translation is based upon the text of Rzach, and is designed to supersede and displace my earlier translation, which appeared in 1890. The defects of that work and the numerous improvements made in the Greek text of Rzach warrant this thorough recasting of what appears so far to be the only complete translation of these interesting oracles in the English language.[1] Inasmuch as one distinguishing feature of the original is the fact that all its parts and fragments are cast in the form of

[1. An English translation from the texts of Opsopœus and Gallæus was published in London, 1713, by Sir John Floyer. This, of course, contains only the first eight books. In a preface of twenty pages the translator maintains the genuineness of the oracles, cites numerous testimonies from the Christian fathers, and finds the papacy and the Turks predicted therein. The book is out of print, and its dissertations attempting to answer the objections of Opsopœus and Vossius (pp. 249-262) are obsolete and worthless.]

{p. 8}

Greek hexameters, I have been governed by a conviction that the translation ought to be set in some poetic form. It need not be an imitation of the hexameter, which seems somewhat foreign to the genius of the English tongue. The poetic form which in our language holds a position more analogous is that of pentameter blank verse, and I have accordingly felt that this measure was on the whole best adapted to the purpose of this work. A prose translation would undoubtedly enable one in not a few instances to convey the meaning of the original more accurately, but the consequent loss of that which is enhancing in the matter of poetic form ought not to be ignored. Bayard Taylor, in the Preface to his translation of Goethe's Faust, argues that "the value of form in a poetical work is the first question to be considered. . . . Poetry, indeed, may be distinguished from prose by the single circumstance that it is the utterance of whatever in man cannot be perfectly uttered in any other than a rhythmical form. It is useless to say that the naked meaning is independent of the form." This argument has, of course, a force and relevancy in connection with poetic masterpieces like Goethe's Faust and the Homeric epics which it cannot have for a version of such a composite of heterogeneous elements as we find in these Pseudo-Sibyllines; and yet we believe that it ought to have great influence in an attempt to translate what exists only in poetic form.

In working out my task I have aimed, in spite of the restrictions involved in maintaining a rhythmic form, to keep very close to the order and sentiment of the Greek verses. Not a few of my renderings may perhaps be justly criticised as being too literal, and some may be thought to violate the usages of good English style; and I must crave the kindly forbearance of the critical reader. Let the offense of extreme literalism be condoned by the consideration

{p. 9}

that I am a kind of pioneer in making these oracles accessible to English readers, and that I have risked adverse criticism for my occasional too close adherence to the letter of the Greek rather than expose myself to possibly greater error in the opposite extreme. It should be observed, also, that there are not a few very obscure and perplexing passages in these Pseudo-Sibyllines, and in some verses one can at best only guess at the meaning. There are also numerous lacuncæ and mutilations in all existing manuscripts, as, for example, at the conclusion of book xii. These are indicated in the translation just as they appear in the printed Greek texts. In the few places where a list of proper names occurs (for example, iii, 424-430) and English rhythm is impossible, my only course was simply to transfer the names in the order in which they stand in the Greek. For convenience in comparing the translation with the original the corresponding lines of the Greek text are indicated by the numbers inclosed in parentheses at the foot of each page of the translation.

I have aimed to supply in the footnotes such information as a reader of the oracles might wish to find by easy reference. My inability to explain all the obscure allusions has not deterred me from supplying as far as practicable such notes and comments as interested students may find to be a help. In the first footnote at the beginning of each book there is given a brief statement of the general character and the probable authorship and date of the contents, but I have not attempted the difficult task of a critical analysis, rearrangement, and formal discussion of the various parts of these now heterogeneous books and fragments. The task of the translator is at the present rather to accept the order of the books as they appear in all the printed texts of the Greek original.

The fact that many of the early Christian fathers cite

{p. 10}

these pseudonymous oracles as veritable Holy Scripture gives the work an importance in biblical criticism and theology which justifies the attention I have given the matter in the footnotes. The various citations have been carefully noted, and, for the convenience of students disposed to examine or verify them, the place of each citation is designated not only by the common reference of book and chapter, but also by the volume and column in which the passage appears in Migne's Complete Collection of Greek and Latin Fathers. This latter designation is always put in brackets, the letter G denoting the Greek, and L the Latin patrology; the numbers which follow these letters refer respectively to the volume and column. The index at the end of this volume also designates, in connection with the name of each of these fathers, the pages of our translation where the various citations may be found.

Those fragments of Sibylline Oracles which are preserved among the citations of Theophilus and Lactantius, but which do not appear anywhere in the twelve books of our collection, are placed in the Appendix to this volume, where also we furnish a translation of the "Anonymous Preface," together with the passages from Varro and Lactantius which tell the story of the Sibyls, and a bibliography of the Sibylline literature.

{p. 11}















































{p. 14}


Announcement, 1-5. Creation of the earth and man, 6-47. First sin and penalty, 48-81. Condition of the first race, 82-107. The second race of men, 108-129. Third and fourth races, 130-148. The race of giants, 149-153. Call and preaching of Noah, 154-243. Entrance into the ark, and the flood, 244-281. Abatement of the waters, 282-319. Exit from the ark, 320-343. The sixth race and the Titans, 344-386. Prophecy of Christ, 387-468. Dispersion of the Hebrews, 469-485.

{p. 15}



BEGINNING with the generation first
Of mortal men down to the very last
I'll prophesy each thing: what erst has been,
And what is now, and what shall yet befall
5 The world through the impiety of men.
    First now God urges on me to relate
Truly how into being came the world.
And thou, shrewd mortal, prudently make known,
Lest ever thou should'st my commands neglect,
10 The King most high, who brought into existence
The whole world, saying, "Let there be," and there was.
For he the earth established, placing it
Round about Tartarus, and he himself

[1. This book appears to be one of the latest in composition of this entire collection of oracles, but it was placed first on account of its contents, which relate to the creation and the earliest races of mankind. It is evidently of Christian origin, and was written probably as late as the third century.

13. Tartartus, the prison of the Titans, is here conceived as encompassed by the earth and forming its interior. Hesiod (Theog., 720, ff) represents it as surrounded by a brazen fence and situated as far beneath the earth as earth is beneath the heaven; it would require nine days and nights, he says, for an anvil to fall from heaven to earth, and as many more for it to fall from earth to Tartarus. Comp. Homer, Il., viii, 13-16. Verg., Æn., vi, 577-581. It will be seen in line 127 and elsewhere that Gehenna is regarded as a part of Tartarus or identical with it, while Hades (line 106) comprehends the abode of all the dead.]


{p. 16}

Gave the sweet light; he raised the heaven on high,
15 Spread out the gleaming sea, and crowned the sky
With an abundance of bright-shining stars,
And decked the earth with plants, and mingled sea
With rivers, and the air with zephyrs mixed
And watery clouds; and then, another race
20 Appointing, he gave fishes to the seas
And birds unto the winds, and to the woods
The beasts of shaggy neck, and snakes that crawl,
And all things which now on the earth appear.
These by his word he made, and every thing
25 Was speedily and with precision done;
For he was self-caused and from heaven looked down
And finished was the world exceeding well.
And then thereafter fashioned he again
A living product, copying a new man
30 From his own image, beautiful, divine,
And bade him in ambrosial garden dwell,
That labors beautiful might be his care.
But in that fertile field of Paradise
He longed for conversation, being alone,
35 And prayed that he might see another form
Such as he had. And forthwith, from man's side
Taking a bone, God himself made fair Eve,
A wedded spouse, and in that Paradise
Gave her to dwell with him. And, when he gazed
40 Upon her, on a sudden filled with joy
Great admiration held his soul, he saw
A pattern so exact; and with wise words
Spontaneous flowing answered he in turn
For God had care for all things. For the mind
45 They darkened not with passion, nor concealed
Their nakedness, but with hearts far from evil


{p. 17}

Even like wild beasts they walked with limbs exposed.
And afterwards delivering them commands
God showed them not to touch a certain tree;
50 But the dread serpent drew them off by guile
To go away unto the fate of death
And to gain knowledge of both good and evil.
But the wife then first traitress proved to God;
She gave, and urged the unknowing man to sin.
55 And he, persuaded by the woman's words,
Forgot the immortal Maker utterly,
And treated plain commandments with neglect.
Therefore, instead of good, received they evil
According to their deed. And then the leaves
60 Of the sweet fig-tree piercing they made clothes
And put them on each other, and concealed
The sexual parts, because they were ashamed.
But on them the Immortal set his wrath
And cast them out of the immortal land.
65 For their abiding now in mortal land
Was brought to pass, since hearing they kept not
The word of the immortal mighty God.
And straightway they, upon the fruitful soil
Forthgoing, with their tears and groans were wet;
70 And to them then the immortal God himself
A word more excellent spoke: "Multiply,
Increase, work constantly upon the earth,
That with the sweat of labor ye may have
Sufficient food." Thus he spoke; and he made
75 The author of deceit to press the ground
On belly and on side, a crawling snake,
Driving him out severely; and he sent
Dire enmity between them and the one

[48-52. Cited by Lact., Div. Inst., ii, 13. [L., 6, 325.]]


{p. 18}

Is on the look-out to preserve his head,
80 But man his heel; for death is neighbor near
Of evil-plotting vipers and of men.
    And then indeed the race was multiplied
As the Almighty himself gave command,
And there grew up one people on another
85 Innumerable. And houses they adorned
Of all kinds and made cities and their walls
Well and expertly; and to them was given
A day of long time for a life much-loved;
For they did not worn out with troubles die,
90 But as subdued by sleep; most happy men
Of great heart, whom the immortal Saviour loved,
The King, God. But they also did transgress,
Smitten with folly. For with impudence
They mocked their fathers and their mothers scorned;
95 Kinsmen they knew not, and they formed intrigues
Against their brothers. And they were impure,
Having defiled themselves with human gore,
And they made wars. And then upon them came
The last calamity sent forth from heaven,
100 Which snatched the dreadful men away from life;
And Hades then received them; it was called
Hades since Adam, having tasted death,
Went first and earth encompassed him around.
And therefore all men born upon the earth
105 Are in abodes of Hades called to go.

[88. Day of long time.--Allusion to the remark the patriarchs as recorded in Gen. v.

102. Hades.--The conception of Hades here set forth, as the great receptacle of the souls of men after death, is in essential harmony with both the Jewish and the Christian doctrines. The derivation of the name from Adam is noticeable as a purely arbitrary conjecture. Comp. book iii, 30, note; comp. Plato's explanation of the word in Cratylus, 404.]


{p. 19}

But even in Hades all these when they came
Had honor, since they were the earliest race.
    But when Hades received these, secondly
[Of the surviving and most righteous men]
110 God formed another very subtile race
That cared for lovely works, and noble toils,
Distinguished reverence and solid wisdom;
And they were trained in arts of every kind,
Finding inventions by their lack of means.
115 And one devised to till the land with plows,
Another worked in wood, another cared
For sailing, and another watched the stars
And practiced augury with winged fowls;
And use of drugs had interest for one,
120 While for another magic had a charm;
And others were in every other art
Which men care for instructed, wide awake,
Industrious, worthy of that eponym
Because they had a sleepless mind within
125 And a huge body; stout with mighty form
They were; but, notwithstanding, down they went
Into Tartarean chamber terrible,
Kept in firm chains to pay full penalty
In Gehenna of strong, furious, quenchless fire.
130    And after these a third strong-minded race
Appeared, a race of overbearing men
And terrible, who wrought among themselves

[109. Lines thus inclosed in brackets are believed to be spurious interpolations, but have too much MS. authority to be omitted from the text.

130. Third strong-minded race.--The successive races here mentioned appear to be in imitation of Hesiod's ages or races of mankind. Hesiod applies to them the epithets of golden, silver, bronze, and iron. See Works and Days, 108-190, and comp. Aratus, Phænom., 100-134; Ovid, Met., i. 89-150; Juvenal, Sat., xiii, 27-30.]


{p. 20}

Many an evil. And fights, homicides,
And battles did continually destroy
135 Those men possessed of overweening heart,
    And from these afterward another race
Proceeded, late-completed, youngest born,
Blood-stained, perverse in counsel; of men these
Were in the fourth race; much the blood they spilled,
140 Nor feared they God nor had regard for men,
For maddening wrath and sore impiety
Were sent upon them. And wars, homicides,
And battles sent some into Erebus,
Since they were overweening impious men.
145 But the rest did the heavenly God himself
In anger afterwards change from his world,
Casting them into mighty Tartarus
Down under the foundation of the earth.
And later yet another race much worse
150 [Of men he made, to whom no good thereafter]
The Immortal formed, since they wrought many evils.
For they were much more violent than those,
Giants perverse, foul language pouring out.
Single among all men, most just and true,
155 Was the most faithful Noah, full of care
For noblest works. And to him God himself
From heaven thus spoke: "Noah, be of good cheer
In thyself and to all the people preach
Repentance, so that they may all be saved.
160 But if, with shameless soul, they heed me not
The whole race I will utterly destroy

[143. Erebus appears to be here employed merely as another name for the underworld, and interchangeable with Hades. Comp. Homer, Il., viii. 368. Tartarus is conceived as a still lower deep.

153. Giants.--The nephilim of Gen. vi, 4.]


{p. 21}

With mighty floods of waters. Quickly now
An undecaying house I bid thee frame
Of planks strong and impervious to the wet.
165 I will put understanding in thy heart,
And subtile skill, and rule of measurement
And order; and for all things will I care
That thou be saved, and all who dwell with thee.
And I am He who is, and in thy heart
170 Do thou discern. I clothe me with the heaven,
And cast the sea around me, and for me
Earth is a footstool, and the air is poured
Around my body; and on every side
Around me runs the chorus of the stars.
175 Nine letters have I; of four syllables
I am; discern me. The first three have each
Two letters, the remaining one the rest,
And five are mates; and of the entire sum
The hundreds are twice eight and thrice three tens
180 Along with seven. Now, knowing who I am,

[175. Nine letters.--The connection shows that the name intended must be some title or designation of the Creator, but no word has been discovered that fully meets the conditions of the puzzle. The nearest solution is found in the word {Greek ?ane'kfwnows}. This word has nine letters, four syllables, and five mutes, or consonants. The first three syllables have two letters each, and the sum of all the letters taken at their numerical value is 1,696. But the number stated in the text is twice 800, plus three times thirty (= 90) and seven = 1,697. {Greek ?ane'kfwnows} must also be supposed to be a shortened form for {Greek ?anekfw'nhtos}, used in ecclesiastical Greek writers to denote the unutterable name, Jehovah. Another name proposed is {Greek Ðeo`s Swth'r}, but an obvious objection is that we have here two words, not, as the text suggests, one word of four syllables. Besides, these letters amount to only 1,692. There is, perhaps, an error in the text. If for the words with seven (line 180) we read with two, the numerical difficulty of the last-named solution would be met; or if we read with six, then the word {Greek ?ane'kfwnos} solves the problem. Comp. the similar puzzle in lines 395-399 of this same book, and the well-known {footnote p. 22} enigma of the number of the beast in Rev. xiii, 18. A like example is also found in Capella (book ii, 193), who thus addresses the sun: "Hail, thou veritable face and paternal countenance of God, eight and six hundred in number, whose first letter forms a sacred name, a surname, and a sign;" which Kopp explains by the letters {Greek frh} (= 608), representative of the Egyptian name of the sun. Comp. also the designation of the Roman emperors in book v, 16, and following.]


{p. 22}

Be thou not uninitiate in my lore."
    Thus he spoke; and great trembling seized on him
At what he heard. And then, within his mind
Having contrived each matter, he besought
185 The people and began with words like these:
"O men insatiate, smit with madness great,
Whatever things ye practiced they shall not
Escape God's notice; for he knows all things,
Immortal Saviour overseeing all,
190 Who bade me warn you, that ye perish not.
Be sober, cut off badness, do not fight
Perforce each other with blood-guilty heart,
Nor irrigate much land with human gore.
Revere, O mortals, the supremely great
195 And fearless heavenly Creator, God
Imperishable, whose dwelling is the sky;
And do ye all entreat him--he is kind--
For life of cities and of all the world,
And of four-footed beasts and flying fowls;
200 Entreat him to be gracious unto all.
For when the whole unbounded world of men
Shall be destroyed by waters loud ye'll raise

[184. Besought the people.--The O. T. narrative of the flood records nothing of Noah's preaching, but in 2 Pet. ii he is called a "preacher of righteousness" (comp. 1 Pet. iii, 20), and Josephus (Ant., i, iii, 1) confirms this tradition of the Jews. Comp. also Theophilus, ad Autol., iii, 19 [G., 61 1.145].]


{p. 23}

A fearful cry. And suddenly for you
The air shall be disordered, and from heaven
205 The fury of the mighty God shall come
Upon you. And it certainly shall be
That the immortal Saviour against men
Will send wrath if ye do not placate God
And from this time repent; and nothing more
210 Fretful and evil lawlessly shall ye
One to another do, but let there be
A guarding of one's self by holy life."
    But when they heard him each turned up his nose,
Calling him mad, a frenzy-smitten man.
215 And then again did Noah sound this strain:
"O men exceeding wretched, base in heart,
Unstable, leaving modesty behind
And loving shamelessness, rapacious lords,
Fierce sinners, false, insatiate, mischievous,
220 In nothing true, stealthy adulterers,
Flippant in language, pouring forth foul words,
The wrath of God most high not fearing, kept
To the fifth generation to atone!
In no way do ye wail, harsh men, but laugh;
225 Sardonic smile shall ye laugh, when shall come
That which I speak--God's dire incoming flood,
When Eve's polluted race, in the great earth
Blooming perennial in impervious stem,
Shall, root and branch, in one night disappear,
230 And cities, men and all, shall the Earth-shaker

[225. Sardonic mile--Expression supposed to have originated from a Sardinian plant so bitter as to cause the face of the cater to writhe in pain, though he might attempt to laugh. Comp. Hom. Od., xx, 302.

230. Earth-shaker--the Greek poets an epithet of Poseidon (Neptune), the god of the sea, here evidently applied to the God of Noah.]


{p. 24}

From the depths scatter and their walls destroy.
And then the whole world of unnumbered men
Shall die. But how shall I weep, how lament
In wooden house, how mingle tears with waves?
235 For, if this water bidden of God shall come,
Earth shall float, hills float, and even sky shall float;
Everything shall be water, and all things
Shall be destroyed by waters. And the winds
Shall stand still, and a second age shall come.
240 O Phrygia, thou shalt from the water's crest
First rise up, and thou first another race
Of men shalt nourish, once again anew
Beginning; and thou shalt be nurse for all."
    But when now to the lawless generation
245 He had thus vainly spoken, the Most High
Appeared, and once more cried aloud and said:
"The time is now come, Noah, to proclaim
Each thing, even all which I that day to thee
Did promise and confirm, and to complete,
250 Because of a people disobedient,
Throughout the boundless world even all the things
Which generations of a former time
Did practice, evil things innumerable.
But do thou quickly enter with thy sons
255 And the wives. Call as many as I bid,
Of tribes of beasts and creeping things and birds,
And in as many as I ordain for life
Will I then put a willingness to go."
    Thus spoke he; forth went (Noah) and aloud
260 Cried out and called. And then wife, sons and brides,
Entered the house of wood; then also went

[240. Phrygia . . . first.--Comp. the statement of Herodotus (ii, 2), that the Phrygians were the most ancient of mankind.]


{p. 25}

The other things, as many as God willed
To shut in. But when fitting bolt was put
About the lid, and in its polished place
265 Was fitted sideways, then was brought to pass
Forthwith the purpose of the God of heaven.
And he massed clouds, and bid the sun's bright disk,
And moon, and stars, and circle of the heaven,
Obscuring all things round; he thundered loud,
270 Terror of mortals, sending lightnings forth;
And all the winds together were aroused,
And all the veins of water were unloosed
By opening of great cataracts from heaven,
And from earth's caverns and the tireless deep
275 Appeared the myriad waters, and the whole
Illimitable earth was covered o'er.
But on the water swam that wondrous house;
And torn by many furious waves, and struck
By force of winds, it rushed on fearfully;
280 But with its keel it cut the mass of foam
While the loud-babbling waters dashed around.
    But when God deluged all the world with rains
Then also Noah took thought to observe
By counsels of the Immortal; for he now
285 Had had enough of Nereus. And straightway
The house he opened from the polished wall,
That crosswise was bound fast with skillful stays.
And looking out upon the mighty mass
Of boundless waters Noah on all sides--

[285. Nereus.--A sea god supposed to dwell in the bottom of the ocean, and called in Homer (Il. i, 556) the "old man of the sea." His daughters were called Nereids. Nereus is here put by metonymy for the sea itself, and the Sibyl means to say that Noah had been long enough in the water.]


{p. 26}

290 And 'twas his fortune with his eyes to see!--
Fear possessed and shook mightily his heart.
And then the air became a little calm,
Since it was weary wetting all the world
Many days; parting, then, it brought to light
295 How pale and blood-red was the mighty sky
And sun's bright disk awearied; scarcely held
Noah his courage. And then forth afar
Sent he a dove alone, that he might learn
If yet firm land appeared. But with tired wing,
300 Flying round all things, she again returned;
For not yet had the water ebbed away;
For it was deeply filling every place.
But after resting quietly for days
He sent the dove once more, to learn if yet
305 Had ceased the many waters. And she flew
And flew on, and went o'er the earth and, resting
Her body lightly on the humid ground,
Again to Noah back she came and bore
An olive branch--of tidings a great sign.
310 Courage now filled them all, and great delight,
Because they hoped to look upon the land.
But then thereafter yet another bird,
Of black wing, sent he forth as hastily;
Which, trusting to its wings, flow willingly,
315 And coming to the land continued there.
And Noah knew the land was nearer now.
But when on dashing waves the craft divine
Had here and there o'er ocean's billows swum,
It was made fast upon the narrow strand.
320 There is in Phrygia on the dark mainland

[290. An aposiopesis. The poet is so appalled at the thought of what Noah saw that she leaves her sentence unfinished.]


{p. 27}

A steep, tall mountain; Ararat its name,
Because upon it all were to be saved
From death, and there was great desire of heart;
Thence streams of the great river Marsyas spring.
325 There on a lofty peak the ark abode
When the waters ceased, and then again from heaven
The voice divine of the great God this word
Proclaimed: "O Noah, guarded, faithful, just,
Come boldly forth, with thy sons and thy wife
330 And the three brides, and fill ye all the earth,
Increasing, multiplying, rendering justice
To one another through all generations,
Until to judgment every race of men
Shall come; for judgment shall be unto all."
335 Thus spoke the voice divine. Then from his couch
Noah, encouraged, hastened on the land,
And with him went his sons and wife and brides,
And creeping things, and birds and quadrupeds,
And all things else went from the wooden house
340 Into one place. And then went Noah forth
As eighth, most just of men, when on the waters
He had made full twice twenty days and one
Because of counsels of the mighty God.
Then a new stock of life again arose,
345 Golden first, which indeed was sixth, and best,

[321. Ararat.--Comp. the legends of this mountain and of the remains of the ark in Josephus, Ant., i, iii, 6.

323. From death.--A reading proposed by Mendelssohn, and approved by Rzach in his Addenda et corrigenda.

324. River Marsyas.--Two rivers of antiquity bear this name, one a branch of the Mæander in Asia Minor, the other a branch of the Orontes in Syria. Neither of these seems to meet the conditions of our text.

342. Twice twenty days and one.--According to the statement in Gen. vii, 12.]


{p. 28}

From the time when the first-formed man appeared;
Heavenly its name, because all things to God
Shall be a care. O first race of sixth age!
O mighty joy which I thereafter shared,
350 When I escaped sheer ruin, by the waves
Much tossed, with husband and with brothers-in-law,
Stepfather and stepmother, and with wives
Of husband's brothers suffering terribly.
Fitting things now will I sing: There shall be
355 On the fig-tree a many-colored flower,
And afterward the royal power and sway
Shall Cronos have. For three kings of great soul,
Men most just, shall distribute portions then,
And many a year rule, rendering what is just
360 To men who care for toil and deeds of love.
And earth shall glory in her many fruits
Self-growing, yielding much corn for the race.
And the foster-fathers, ageless all their days,
Shall from diseases chill and dreadful be
365 Far aloof; they shall die as fallen on sleep,
And unto Acheron in the abodes
Of Hades they shall go away, and there
Shall they have honor, since they were a race

[348. Sixth.--" The Erythræan Sibyl says that she lived in the sixth age after the flood," writes Eusebius, Orat. ad Sanct., xviii [G., 20, 1285]. Here we note that she assumes to be a daughter-in-law of Noah. Comp. close of book iii.

855. Many-colored flower.--Here employed as an image of the fertility of the royal race of whom she is about to sing.

357. Three kings.--The three sons of Noah would seem to have been identified in the Sibyl's thought with Cronos, Titan, and Iapetus of the Greek mythology. Comp. book iii, 130.

366. Acheron was a river of the lower world. Verg., Æn., vi, 295.]


{p. 29}

Of blessed ones, fortunate heroes, whom
370 The Lord of Sabaoth gave a noble mind,
And with whom always he his counsels shared.
But blessed shall they be even when they go
In Hades. And then afterward again
Oppressive, strong, another second race
375 Of earth-born men, the Titans. All excel
In figure, stature, growth; and there shall be
One language, as of old from the first race
God in their breasts implanted. But even these,
Having a haughty heart and rushing on
380 To ruin, shall at last resolve to fight
Against the starry heaven. And then the stream
Of the great ocean shall upon them pour
Its raging waters. But the mighty Lord
Of Sabaoth though enraged shall check his wrath,
385 Because he promised that again no flood
Should be brought upon men of evil soul.
    But when the great high-thundering God shall cause
The boundless swelling of the many waters--
With their waves hither and thither rising high--
390 To cease from wrath, and into other depths
Of sea their measure lessen, setting bounds
By harbors and rough headlands round the land;
Then also shall a child of the great God
Come, clothed in flesh, to men, and fashioned like
395 To mortals in the earth; and he doth hear

[315. Titans.--Mythical sons of heaven and earth who figure much in Greek legend and poetry. See book iii, 130-185. Lactantius records a number of the legends and observes: "The truth of this history is taught by the Erythræan Sibyl, who says almost the same things, varying only in a few unimportant details." Div. Inst., i, xiv [L., 6, 190].]


{p. 30}

Four vowels, and two consonants in him
Are twice announced; the whole sum I will name:
For eight ones, and as many tens on these,
And yet eight hundred will reveal the name
400 To men insatiate; and do thou discern
In thine own understanding that the Christ
Is child of the immortal God most high.
And he shall fulfill God's law, not destroy,
Bearing his very image, and all things
405 Shall he teach. Unto him shall priests convey
And offer gold, and myrrh, and frankincense;
For all these things he'll also bring to pass.
But when a voice shall through the desert land
Come bearing tidings to men, and to all
410 Shall call to make straight paths, and from the heart
Cast wickedness out and illuminate
With water all the bodies of mankind,
That being born again they may no more
From what is righteous go at all astray--
415 And one of barbarous mind, by dances bound,
Cutting that (voice) off shall bestow reward--

[296. Four vowels.--The name Jesus in Greek, {Greek ?Ihsou~s}, contains four vowels and the consonant is twice told, and the numerical value of all the letters is 888. Comp. line 175, and note.

406. Gold . . . myrrh.--Comp. Matt. ii, 11.

408. A voice.--Comp. Isa. xl, 3; Matt. iii, 3.

411. Illuminate.--An expression relating to Christian baptism quite common with the early fathers, many of whom understood the word {Greek fwtis-ðe'nte's} in Heb. vi, 4, as referring to baptism. Justin Martyr, 1 Apol., lxi [G., 6, 421], says: "This washing is called illumination, inasmuch as those who learn these things have their understanding illuminated." Cyril of Jerusalem wrote eighteen books of religious instruction, which are entitled Catechesis of the Illuminated [G., 33, 369-1060]. See also Apost. Const., viii, 8. For other references see Suicer, Thesaurus, under {Greek fw'tisma}.]


{p. 31}

Then on a sudden there shall be a sign
To mortals, when, watched over, there shall come
Out of the land of Egypt a fair stone;
420 And on it shall the Hebrew people stumble;
But by his guiding nations shall be brought
Together; for the God who rules on high
They also shall know through him, and the way
In common light. For unto chosen men
425 Will he show life eternal, but the fire
Will be for ages on the lawless bring.
And then shall he the sickly heal, and all
Who are blameworthy who shall trust in him..
And then the blind shall see, the lame shall walk,
430 The deaf shall hearken, and the dumb shall speak.
Demons shall he drive out, and of the dead
There shall be an uprising; on the waves
Shall he walk; also in a desert place
Shall he five thousand satisfy with food
435 From five loaves and a fish out of the sea,
    And with the remnants of them, for the hope
Of peoples, shall he fill twelve baskets full.
And then shall Israel, drunken, not discern,
Nor shall they hear, oppressed with feeble cars.
440 But when the maddening wrath of the Most High
Shall come upon the Hebrews, and take faith
Away from them, because they slew the Son
Of the heavenly God; then also with foul lips

[415. Dances.--See Matt. xiv, 6-10.

418. Watched over.--By God and angels, as told in Matt. ii.

419. Egypt.--See Matt. ii, 13-15, 21. Stone.--Comp. Matt. xxi, 42, 44, and I Pet. ii, 4-8; Zech. iii, 9.

424. Common light.--Comp. John i, 4-9.

429-437. Comp. book viii, 270-274 and 361-369. Cited also by Lactantius in Div. Inst. iv, 16 [L., 6, 493].]


{p. 32}

Shall Israel give him cuffs and spittle drugged.
445 And gall for food and vinegar unmixed
For drink will they, with evil madness smitten
In bosom and in heart, give impiously,
Not seeing with their eyes, more blind than moles,
More terrible than crawling poisonous beasts,
450 Fast bound by heavy sleep. But when his hands
He shall spread forth and measure out all things,
And bear the crown of thorns, and they shall pierce
His side with reeds, for which dark monstrous night
Shall be for three hours in the midst of day,
455 Then also shall the temple of Solomon
Bring to an end a mighty sign for men,
When he shall to the house of Hades go
Proclaiming resurrection to the dead.
But when in three days he shall come again
460 Unto the light, and show his form to men
And teach all things, ascending in the clouds
Unto the house of heaven shall he go
Leaving the world a Gospel convenant.
And in his name shall blossom a new shoot
465 From nations that are guided by the law
Of the Mighty One. But also after this
There shall be wise guides, and then afterward
There shall be a cessation of the prophets.
    After that, when the Hebrew people reap
470 Their evil harvest, shall a Roman king
Much gold and silver utterly destroy.
And afterward shall other royal powers
Continuously arise as kingdoms perish,

[444. Cuffs . . . spittle.--Comp. Matt. xxvii, 30.

456. Sign.--Comp. Matt. xxvii, 51.

470. Roman king.--Titus, who carried the spoils of the temple to Rome.]


{p. 33}

And they will oppress mortals. But great fall
475 Shall be for those men, when they shall begin
Unrighteous arrogance. But when the temple
Of Solomon in the holy land shall fall,
Cast down by barbarous men in brazen mail,
And from the land the Hebrews shall be driven
480 Wandering and wasted, and among the wheat
They shall much darnel mingle, there shall be
Evil contention among, all mankind;
And the cities suffering outrage shall bewail
Each other, in their breasts receiving wrath
485 Of the great God, since they wrought evil work.


{p. 34}

{p. 35}




{p. 36}


Introduction, 1-6. A time of plagues and wickedness, 7-15. The tenth race, 16-28. A time of peace, 29-36. Great sign and contest, 37-63. A chapter of proverbs, 64-188. The contest, 189-195. Woes of the last generation, 196-222. Events of the last day, 223-263. Resurrection and judgment, 264-312. Punishment of the wicked, 313-383. Blessedness of the righteous, 384-403. Some saved from the fire, 404-415. The Sibyl's wail, 416-427.

{p. 37}


    Now while I much entreated God restrained
My wise song, also in my breast again
He put the charming voice of words divine.
In my whole body terror-stricken these
5 I follow; for I know not that I speak,
    But God impels me to proclaim each thing.
But when on earth come shocks, fierce thunderbolts,
Thunders and lightnings, storms, and evil blight,
And rage of jackals and of wolves, manslaughter,
10 Destruction of men and of lowing kine,
Four-footed cattle and laborious mules,
And goats and sheep, then shall the ample field
Be barren from neglect, and fruits shall fail,
And there shall be a selling of their freedom
15 Among most men, and robbery of temples.
And then shall, after these, appear of men
The tenth race, when the earth-shaking Lightener
Shall break the zeal for idols and shall shake
The people of seven-hilled Rome, and riches great

[1. This second book appears to be a continuation of the preceding, and was probably written by the same author, In several manuscripts the two books are found united and placed after the third book. The appropriation of verses from the third and eighth books shows the later composition of these first two books, which our compiler assigned to their present position on account of their contents.

6. I know not.--Comp. Plato, Apol., 22, where Socrates observes that "not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them."]


{p. 38}

20 Shall perish, burned by Vulcan's fiery flame.
And then shall bloody signs from heaven descend--
      .     .     .     .     .
But yet the whole world of unnumbered men
Enraged shall kill each other, and in tumult
Shall God send famines, plagues, and thunderbolts
25 On men who, without justice, judge of rights.
And lack of men shall be in all the world,
So that if anyone beheld a trace
Of man on earth, he would be wonderstruck.
And then shall the great God who dwells in heaven
30 Saviour of pious men in all things prove.
And then shall there be peace and wisdom deep,
And the fruit-bearing land shall yield again
Abundant fruits, divided not in parts
Nor yet enslaved. And every harbor then,
35 And every haven, shall be free to men
As formerly, and shamelessness shall perish.
    And then will God show mortals a great sign:
For like a lustrous crown shall shine a star,
Bright, all-resplendent, from the radiant heaven
40 Days not a few; and then will he display
From heaven a crown for contest unto men
Who wrestle. And then there shall be again
A mighty contest of triumphal march

[21. There seems to be a lacuna of one line after this, containing perhaps a mention of omens and drops of blood, as in book xii, 73, where a similar thought is found.

43. Contest of triumphal march.--Allusion to the iselastic ({Greek ei'selastiko's}) contests, the victors in which were conducted into their own city through a broken part of the wall. See Pliny, book x, Epis. 119 and 120, in which these games are mentioned. Alexandre conjectures that this whole passage (lines 37-63) concerning contests and crowns was first written in a time of persecution to inspire to fidelity; but after persecution had ceased it was accommodated to the more common struggles of the Christian life.]


{p. 39}

Into the heavenly sky, and it shall be
45 For all men in the world, and have the fame
Of immortality. And every people
Shall then in the immortal contests strive
For splendid victory. For no one there
Can shamelessly with silver buy a crown.
50 For unto them will the pure Christ adjudge
That which is due, and crown the ones approved,
And give his martyrs an immortal prize
Who carry on the contest unto death.
And unto chaste men who run their race well
55 Will he the incorruptible reward
Of the prize give, and to all men allot
That which is due, and also to strange nations
That live a holy life and know one God.
And those who have regard for marriages
60 And keep themselves far from adulteries,
To them rich gifts, eternal hope, he'll give.
For every human soul is God's free gift,
And 'tis not right men stain it with vile deeds.
    [Do not be rich unrighteously, but lead

[64. The passage beginning here and ending with line 188, and consisting mainly of proverbs, has every appearance of an interpolation. It breaks the connection of thought and the figure of the iselastic contest, which is continued in lines 189-195. The passage is for the most part taken from a poem of 217 lines in hexameter verse, entitled {Greek poi'hma nouðetiko'n} (admonitory poem), and attributed to Phocylides, a gnomic poet of Miletus (born about B. C. 560). Very few, however, will seriously accept these lines as a genuine production of a contemporary of Theognis. They are without much doubt the composition of a Christian writer, and possibly, but not probably, by the author of the second book of the Sibylline Oracles. The variations between the two texts are considerable, the Sibyllines adding many lines not found in Phocylides, and Phocylides having a few not found in the Sibyllines.]


{p. 40}

65 A life of probity. Be satisfied
With what thou hast and keep thyself from that
Which is another's. Speak not what is false,
But have a care for all things that are true.
Revere not idols vainly; but the God
40 Imperishable honor always first,
And next thy parents. Render all things due,
And into unjust judgment come thou not.
Do not cast out the poor unrighteously,
Nor judge by outward show; if wickedly
75 Thou judgest, God hereafter will judge thee.
Avoid false testimony; tell the truth.
Maintain thy virgin purity, and guard
Love among all. Deal measures that are just;
For beautiful is measure full to all.
80 Strike not the scales oneside, but draw them equal.
Forswear not ignorantly nor willingly;
God hates the perjured man in that he swore.
A gift proceeding out of unjust deeds
Never receive in hand. Do not steal seed;
85 Accursed through many generations he
Who took it unto scattering of life.
Indulge not vile lusts, slander not, nor kill.
Give the toilworn his hire; do not afflict
The poor man. Unto orphans help afford
90 And to widows and the needy. Talk with sense;
Hold fast in heart a secret. Be unwilling
To act unjustly nor yet tolerate
Unrighteous men. Give to the poor at once
And say not, "Come to-morrow." Of thy grain
95 Give to the needy with perspiring hand.

[95. With perspiring hand.--So Mendelssohn, Philologus, xlix, 2, p. 246. Comp. Rzach, p. xix.]


{p. 41}

He who gives alms knows how to lend to God.
Mercy redeems from death when judgment comes.
Not sacrifice, but mercy God desires
Rather than sacrifice. The naked clothe,
100 Share thy bread with the hungry, in thy house
Receive the shelterless and lead the blind.
Pity the shipwrecked; for the voyage is
Uncertain. To the fallen give a hand;
And save the man that stands without defense.
105 Common to all is suffering, life's a wheel,
Riches unstable. Having wealth, reach out
To the poor thy hand. Of what God gave to thee
Bestow thou also on the needy one.
Common is the whole life of mortal men;
110 But it comes out unequal. When thou seest
A poor man never banter him with words,
Nor harshly accost a man who may be blamed.
One's life in death is proven; if one did
The unlawful or just, it shall be decided
115 When he to judgment comes. Disable not
Thy mind with wine nor drink excessively.
Eat not blood, and abstain from things
Offered to idols. Gird not on the sword
For slaughter, but defense; and would thou might
120 It neither lawlessly nor justly use:
For if thou kill an enemy thy hand
Thou dost defile. Keep from thy neighbor's field,
Nor trespass on it; just is every landmark,
And trespass painful. Useful is possession
125 Of lawful wealth, but of unrighteous gains
'Tis worthless. Harm not any growing fruit
Of the field. And let strangers be esteemed
In equal honor with the citizens;


{p. 42}

For much-enduring hospitality
130 Shall all experience as each other's guests;
But let there not be anyone a stranger
Among you, since, ye mortals, all of you
Are of one 'blood, and no land has for men
Any sure place. Wish not nor pray for wealth;
135 But pray to live from few things and possess
Nothing at all unjust. The love of gain
Is mother of all evil. Do not long
For gold or silver; in them there will be
A double-edged and soul-destroying iron.
140 A snare to men continually are gold
And silver. Gold, of evils source, of life
Destructive, troubling all things, would that thou
Wert, not to mortals such a longed-for bane!
For wars, because of thee, and pillaging
145 And murders come, and children hate their sires,
And brothers and sisters those of their own blood.
Plot no deceit, and do not arm thy heart
Against a friend. Keep not concealed within
A different thought from what thou speakest forth;
150 Nor, like rock-clinging polyp, change with place.
But with all be frank, and things from the soul
Speak thou forth. Whosoever willfully
Commits a wrong, an evil man is he;
But he that does it under force, the end
155 I tell not; but let each man's will be right.
Pride not thyself in wisdom, power, or wealth;
God only is the wise and mighty one
And full of riches. Do not vex thy heart
With evils that are past; for what is done
160 Can never be undone. Let not thy hand
Be hasty, but ferocious passion curb;


{p. 43}

For many times has one in striking done
Murder without design. Let suffering
Be common, neither great nor overmuch.
165 Excessive good has not brought forth to men
That which is helpful. And much luxury
Leads to immoderate lusts. Much wealth is prowl,
And makes one grow to wanton violence.
Passionate feeling, creeping in, effects
170 Destructive madness. Anger is a lust,
And when it is excessive it is wrath.
The zeal of good men is a noble thing,
But of the base is base. Of wicked men
The boldness is destructive, but renown
175 Follows that of the good. To be revered
Is virtuous love, but that of Cypris works
Increase of shame. A silly man is called
Very agreeable among his fellows.
With moderation eat, drink, and converse;
180 Of all things moderation is the best;
But trespass of its limit brings to grief.
Be not thou envious, faithless, or abusive,
Or evil-minded, or a false deceiver.
Be prudent and abstain from shameless deeds.
185 Imitate not what's evil, but leave thou
Vengeance to justice; for persuasion is
A useful thing, but strife engenders strife.
Trust not too quickly ere thou see the end.]
    This is the contest, these are the rewards;
190 These are the prizes; this the gate of life

[176. Cypris.--Another name for Aphrodite (or Venus), love. She is fabled to have sprung from the foam of the sea and to have first stepped ashore on the island of Cyprus, The love of Cypris here means impure sexual love.

189. This is the contest.--Obvious allusion to the iselastic contest {footnote p. 43} described in lines 42-63 above, and showing the passage 64-188 to be an interpolation. The compiler who inserted the passage here probably considered these proverbs so many precepts to guide one in the great contest for immortality.]


{p. 44}

And entrance into immortality,
Which God in heaven unto most righteous men
Appointed a reward for victory;
And through this gate shall gloriously pass
195 Those who shall then receive the victor's crown.
    But when this sign shall everywhere appear--
Children with gray hair on their temples born--
And human sufferings, famines, plagues, and wars,
And change of times, and many a tearful wail,
200 Ah! of how many parents in the lands
Will children mourn and piteously weep,
And with shrouds bury flesh and limbs in earth,
Mother of peoples, with the blood and dust
Themselves defiling. O ye wretched men
205 Of the last generation, evil doers,
Terrible, childish, not perceiving this,
That when the tribes of women do not bear
The harvest time of mortal men is come.
Near is the ruin when impostors come
210 Instead of prophets speaking on the earth.
And Beliar shall come and many signs
Perform for men. And then of holy men,
Elect and faithful, there shall be confusion,
And pillaging of them and of the Hebrews.

[197. Children with gray hair.--Comp. a similar passage in Hesiod, Works and Days, 181. Children will become prematurely old by reason of the woes destined to visit the race in the last generation.

211. Beliar.--Same as Belial, named here for antichrist, whose coming in the last time is depicted in harmony with Paul's doctrine in 2 Thess. ii. 8-10.]


{p. 45}

215 And there shall be upon them fearful wrath
When from the east a people of twelve tribes
Shall come in search of kindred Hebrew people
Whom Assyrian shoot destroyed; and over these
Shall nations perish. But they afterwards
220 Shall over men exceeding mighty rule,
Elect and faithful Hebrews, and enslave
Them as before, since their power ne'er shall fail.
He that is highest of all, the all-surveying,
Dwelling in heaven, will scatter sleep on men,
225 Covering the eyelids o'er. O blessed servants
Whom when the Master comes he finds awake!
And they all watch at all times and expect
With sleepless eyes. For it will be at dawn
Or eve or midday; but he sure shall come,
230 And it shall be as I say, it shall be,
To them that sleep, that from the starry heaven
The stars at midday will to all appear
With the two lights as the time hastens on.
And then the Tishbite, urging from the heaven
235 His chariot celestial, and on earth
Arriving, shall to all the world display
Three evil signs of life to be destroyed.
Alas for all the women in that day
Who shall be found with burden in the womb!

[215-222. A passage inexplicably obscure in its historical allusions, but apparently connected with the notion of the ten tribes of the Assyrian exile, who, according to 2 Esdras xiii, 40-50, are concealed in the far East, and to be restored in the last time.

225. Comp. Matt. xxiv, 46.

228. Comp. Mark xiii, 35; Homer, Il., xxi, 111.

233. Comp. Matt. xxiv, 29.

234. Tishbite . . . chariot.--Comp. 2 Kings ii, 11; Mal. iv, 5.

238. Comp. Matt. xxiv, 19.]


{p. 46}

240 Alas for all who suckle tender babes!
Alas for all who shall dwell on the waves!
Alas for women who shall see that day!
For a dark mist shall hide the boundless world,
East, west, and south, and north. And then shall flow
245 A mighty stream of burning fire from heaven
And every place consume, earth, ocean vast,
And gleaming sea, and lakes and rivers, springs,
And cruel Hades and the heavenly sky.
And heavenly lights shall break up into one
250 And into outward form all-desolate.
For stars from heaven shall fall into all seas.
And all the souls of men shall gnash their teeth
Burned both by sulphur stream and force of fire
In ravenous soil, and ashes hide all things.
255 And then of the world all the elements
Shall be bereft, air, earth, sea, light, sky, days,
Nights; and no longer in the air shall fly
Birds without number, nor shall living things
That swim the sea swim any more at all,
260 Nor freighted vessel o'er the billows pass,
Nor kine straight-guiding plow the field, nor sound
Of furious winds; but he shall fuse all things
Together, and shall pick out what is pure.
    But when the immortal God's eternal angels
265 Arakiel, Ramiel, Uriel, Samiel,
And Azael, they that know how many evils

[263. Comp. book iii, 106; viii, 646.

264-266. These names of the angels differ somewhat from those found in the Book of Enoch, where, in chap. ix, we find Michael, Gabriel, Surjan, and Urjan (the Greek fragment has Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel); in chap. xx we have Uriel, Rufael, Raguel, Michael, Saraquel, and Gabriel; and in xl we meet the name Fanuel.]


{p. 47}

Anyone did before, shall from dark gloom
Then lead to judgment all the souls of men
Before the judgment-seat of the great God
270 Immortal; for imperishable is
One only, himself the almighty, One,
Who shall be judge of mortals; and to them
That dwell beneath will then the heavenly One
Give souls and spirit and voice, and also bones
275 Fitted with joints unto all kinds of flesh,
And both the flesh and sinews, veins and skin
About the body, and hair as before;
Divinely fashioned and with breathing moved
Shall bodies of those on earth one day be raised.
280 And then shall Uriel, mighty angel, break
The bolts of stern and lasting adamant
Which, monstrous, bold the brazen gates of Hades,
Straight cast them down, and unto judgment lead
All forms that have endured much suffering,
285 Chiefly the shapes of Titans born of old,
And giants, and all whom the deluge whelmed,
And all that perished in the billowy seas,
And all that furnished banquet for the beasts
And creeping things and fowls, these in a mass
290 Shall (Uriel) summon to the judgment-seat;
And also those whom flesh-devouring fire
Destroyed in flame, even these shall he collect
And place before the judgment-seat of God.
    And when the high-thundering Lord of Sabaoth
295 Making an end of fate shall raise the dead,
Sit on his heavenly throne, and firmly fix
The mighty pillar, then amid the clouds
Christ, who himself is incorruptible,

[297. Pillar.--Comp. lines 351 and 362, and also book vii, 36.]


{p. 48}

Shall come unto the Incorruptible
300 In glory with pure angels, and shall sit
At the right hand on the great judgment-seat
To judge the life of pious and the way
Of impious men. And Moses, the great friend
Of the Most High, shall come enrobed in flesh
305 Also great Abraham himself shall come,
Isaac and Jacob, Joshua, Daniel,
Elijah, Habakkuk and Jonah, and
Those whom the Hebrews slew. But he'll destroy
The Hebrews after Jeremiah, all
310 Who are to be judged at the judgment-seat,
That worthy recompense they may receive
And pay for all each did in mortal life.
And then shall all pass through the burning stream
Of flame unquenchable; but all the just
315 Shall be saved; and the godless furthermore
Shall to all ages perish, all who did
Evils aforetime, and committed murders,
And all who are accomplices therein,
Liars and thieves, and ruiners of home,
320 Crafty and terrible, and parasites,
And marriage-breakers pouring forth vile words,
Dread, wanton, lawless, and idolaters;
And all who left the great immortal God,
Became blasphemers did the pious harm,
325 Destroying faith and killing righteous men
And all that with a shamelessness deceitful
And double-faced rush in as presbyters
And reverend ministers, who knowingly
Give unjust judgments, yielding to false words
330 More hurtful than the leopards and the wolves
And more vile; and ill that are grossly proud


{p. 49}

And usurers, who gains on gains amass
And damage orphans and widows in each thing;
And all that give to widows and to orphans
335 The fruit of unjust deeds, and all that cast
Reproach in giving from their own hard toils;
And all that left their parents in old age,
Not paying them at all, nor offering
To parents filial duty, and all who
340 Were disobedient and against their sires
Spoke a harsh word; and all that pledges took
And then denied them; and the servants all
Who were against their masters, and again
Those who licentiously defiled the flesh;
345 And all who loosed the girdle of the maid
For secret intercourse, and all who caused
Abortions, and all who their offspring cast
Unlawfully away; and sorcerers
And sorceresses with them, and these wrath
350 Of the heavenly and immortal God shall drive
Against a pillar where shall all around
In a circle flow a restless stream of fire;
And deathless angels of the immortal God,
Who ever is, shall bind with lasting bonds
355 In chains of flaming fire and from above
Punish them all by scourge most terribly;
And in Gehenna, in the gloom of night,
Shall they be cast 'neath many horrid beasts
Of Tartarus, where darkness is immense.
360 But when there shall be many punishments
Enforced on all who had an evil heart,
Yet afterward shall there a fiery wheel
From a great river circle them around,
Because they had a care for wicked deeds.


{p. 50}

365 And then one here, another there, shall sires,
Young children, mothers, nursing babes, in tears
Wail their most piteous fate. No fill of tears
Shall be for them, nor piteous voice be heard
Of them that moan, one here, another there,
370 But long worn under dark, dank Tartarus
Aloud shall they cry; and they shall repay
In cursed places thrice as much as all
The evil work they did, burned with much fire;
And all of them, consumed by raging thirst
375 And hunger, shall in anguish gnash their teeth
And call death beautiful, and death shall flee
Away from them. For neither death nor night
Shall ever give them rest. And many things in vain
Will they ask of the God that rules on high,
380 And then will he his face turn openly
Away from them. For he to erring men
Gave, in seven ages for repentance, signs
By the hands of a virgin undefiled.
But the others, all to whom right and fair works
385 And piety and thoughts most just were dear,
Shall angels, bearing through the burning stream,
Lead unto light and life exempt from care,
Where comes the immortal way of the great God
And fountains three--of honey, wine, and milk.
390 And equal land for all, divided not
By walls or fences, more abundant fruits
Spontaneous shall then bear, and the course
Of life be common and wealth unapportioned.
For there no longer will be poor nor rich,

[376.--Comp. viii, 468; and xiii, 166.

381-383.--Comp. viii, 473-475.

394-395.--Comp. viii, 145.]


{p. 51}

395 Tyrant nor slave, nor any great nor small,
Nor kings nor leaders; all alike in common.
No more at all will one say, "night has come,"
Nor "morrow comes," nor "yesterday has been;
Nor shall there many days of anxious care,
400 Nor spring, nor winter, nor the summer-heat,
Nor autumn be [nor marriage, nor yet death,
Nor sales, nor purchases], nor set of sun
Nor rising; for a long day will God make.
And to the pious will the almighty God
405 Imperishable grant another thing,
When they shall ask the imperishable God:
That he will suffer men from raging fire
And endless gnawing anguish to be saved;
And this will he do. For hereafter he
410 Will pluck them from the restless flame, elsewhere
Remove them, and for his own people's sake
Send them to other and eternal life
With the immortals, in Elysian field,

[397-400.--Comp. viii, 561-565.

404-416.--This passage, which savors of a final restoration from future punishment, has been thought to be contrary to orthodox teaching; and we find appended to some manuscripts the following lines, headed, "Contradiction of the 'To the pious will the Almighty,'" and professedly a disproof of the doctrine of Origen on this subject:

    False manifestly; for the penal fire
Shall never cease from those who are condemned.
For also I might pray to have it thus,
Branded with greatest scars of trespasses,
Which need more kindness. But let Origen
Of his presumptuous babble be ashamed,
Saying there shall be end of punishments.

413. Elysian field.--In Homer (Od., iv, 563) the Elysian fields are represented as situated on the western border of the earth by the ocean stream. Hesiod (Works and Days, 169) speaks of "the Isles of the blessed, beside {footnote p. 52} deep-eddying ocean." But later, and with the Roman poets, Elysium was in the lower world, the blessed part of Hades, and is here conceived as bordering on the Acheronian lake.]


{p. 52}

Where move far-stretching billows of the lake
415 Of ever-flowing Acheron profound.
    Ah, miserable woman that I am!
What shall I be in that day? for I sinned--
Being busy foolishly about all things,
Caring for neither marriage-bond nor reason;
420 But even in my wealthy husband's house
I shut the needy out; and formerly
I knowingly performed unlawful things.
But, Saviour, though I shameless things performed,
Do thou from my tormentors rescue me,
425 A shameless woman. And I pray thee now
Make me to rest a little from my song,
Holy Giver of manna, King of the great realm.

[416-425.--Comp. the conclusion of book vii.]


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