Synopses & Reviews
Sibyls--from the Greek word for prophetess--commanded a remarkable amount of respect and devotion in the ancient world for their ability to foretell the future. And even as they receded from myths and stories, they remained an inspiration to many of history's greatest artists. In his definitive and erudite book, Jorge Guillermo tracks the story of Sibyls through polytheism (in Greece and Rome), paganism, and into the seemingly disparate tenets of Christianity. With a remarkably rich set of historical and artistic examples that range from Homer to Virgil, from Boccaccio to Michelangelo, Guillermo pays tribute to the surprising and enduring history of these singular women.
"Guillermo (Cuba: Five Hundred Years of Images) goes in depth into the ancient world as he studies the prophetesses known as sibyls in this disappointedly crafted book. The precise premise of the book is unclear; it adheres to two general, somewhat underdeveloped theses about the importance of women in ancient religions and the fusion between ancient religions and Christianity. In spite of the book's rocky introduction and conclusion, Guillermo's expertise on sibyls themselves becomes clear in the middle chapters. Here, he focuses each chapter on a different significant sibyl, from the Delphic Sibyl, known for revealing to Oedipus his unfortunate destiny, to the Cumaean Sibyl who supposedly lived hundreds of years as a gift from Apollo. Guillermo explores the sibyls' origins, known characteristics, and any other stories about the sibyls available in these exhaustive and well-researched sections. Unfortunately, the book is muddled by an unclear chronology, disorienting combination of fact and myth, and strange employment of quotations that feel like tangents. Guillermo's book can be useful for those seeking specific knowledge on sibyls, but its structural issues will prove too great an obstacle for casual readers." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Readers with a taste for divination or spirituality will not need reminding that the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans was richly endowed with prophets and mediums promising access to the divine sphere and maybe even to the human future too. Among these, the Sibyls of Asia Minor, Greece and Italy held pride of place, and distinguished Cuban author Jorge Guillermo proves a most learned and engaging guide to the lore and legend that surrounded them then and surround them still today. It is an easy prediction that his beautifully modulated book will soon find an honored place on many a cultivated bookshelf." —Paul Cartledge, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge, and author of The Spartans and Thermopylae
In his definitive and erudite book, Jorge Guillermo tracks the story of Sibyls through polytheism (in Greece and Rome), paganism, and into the seemingly disparate tenets of Christianity. With a remarkably rich set of historical and artistic examples that range from Homer to Virgil, from Boccaccio to Michelangelo, Guillermo pays tribute to the surprising and enduring history of these singular women.
From myth to myth, and over thousands of years, few archetypes have so captured the imaginations of readers as that of the Sibyl.
About the Author
Jorge Guillermo left his native Havana during the Cuban revolution and has lived in many countries since. He holds several degrees in theology and architectural history from prestigious North American and European universities. He is the author of Cuba: Five Hundred Years of Images.