The Celtic Literature Collective

The Prophecies of Sibylla

I.—Sibylla was a daughter of King Priam, her mother being Hecuba, Priam's wife, and she had divers names; in the Greek tongue she was called Tyburrina, in Latin Allumea. Sibylla made a circuit of various kingdoms of the East, to wit, Asia, and the land of Alexander the Great, and Galilea, and Cilicia, and Pamphilia, and Galatia. And after she had filled that part of the world with her divinations, thence she went as far as Ethiopia, the land of the Blomans; thence she came to Babylon, and Africa, and Libya, and Pentapolis, and Mauritania, and the Isle of the Palms. In all those countries she preached, and, by her prophetic forebodings, she fulfilled good things for good persons, evil things for evil. We know that she, in her poetry, foretold things that would come hereafter, the last things manifest to show forth. Therefore, the princes of Rome, upon hearing the renown of the afore-mentioned Sibyila, sent messengers, and that, too, with the approval of the Emperor of Rome.

II.—The Emperor sent messengers to her, and bade them bring her in honour to Rome. One hundred men of the elders of Rome saw the same dream, each of them, on the same night. The vision showed them in their sleep, as it were, nine suns appearing in the height of heaven. The first sun was bright, and it illumined the whole earth; the second was larger, and more brilliant, and therein was aerial splendour. The third was burning and awful. The fourth sun had in it four beams radiating. The fifth was dark, and bloody, and in it, as it were, a lamp amid darkness of thunder. The sixth was passing dark, and therein was a sharp point, as the sting of a scorpion. (The scorpion is an insect small in body, the same size as a beetle, and its poison is colder than anything.) The seventh like— wise was dark, and terrible, of the colour of blood, and in it, as it were, a four-edge sword. The eighth was effused, with a ruddiness at its centre. The ninth sun was dark round about, and at its centre one ray shone.

III.—When Sibyila arrived at the city of Rome, the citizens of the city, on seeing her, marvelled, greatly at her loveliness, her noble and comely form, and the beauty of her countenance, in the sight of all, the eloquence of her learned words, and at all the wondrous love— liness of her person. And to her hearers agreeable were her words, and sweet the discourse that she imparted. Then the men that had seen the same dream came to her, and began to converse with her on this wise : O mistress and lady, so shapely a person as thine, such excellency of beauty, we never saw in any woman before thee throughout the whole earth; since thou knowest, foretell to us the accidents of fate. Then she replied thus: It is not right to show the virtue of a vision that will come hereafter, in a place full of filthiness, and corrupted by divers temptations, but come with me to the summit of yonder mountain, that is high and bright, and then I will show you that which shall befall the city of Rome hereafter.

IV.—And there they came, all of them, as she asked them, and there they related to her the vision and dream they had seen, and she said : The nine suns that ye saw signify the generations that shall come hereafter, and their variety shows the variety of the life that the children of those generations shalt have. The first snn shows the first generation, in which there shall be simple and renowned people, to love freedom; and they shall be innocent and gentle, and merciful, and shall love the poor, being abundant in their wisdom. The second sun is the second generation; they will be men that shall live brilliantly, and multiply greatly, and worship God without malice, and inhabit the world together. The third sun is the third generation and nation shall rise against nation, and there shall be much fighting in Rome.

V.—The fourth sun is the fourth line, and in that line there shall come men that deny truth. And in those dnvs a woman shall arise, Mary, by name, and she shall have a husband, called Joseph. And there shall be born a child of that woman, without the knowledge of man and wife, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, a Son of the true God, and His name shall be Jesus. And Mary shall be a virgin both before and after travail; He that shall be born of her will be very God and very man, as all the prophets foretold; and He shall fulfil the law of the Hebrews, and He shall join together His own things, and His kingdom shall abide for ever and ever. And when Re shall be born, a legion of angels shall come on the right hand and on the left to say: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men; and a voice shall come from above to say: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

VI.—There were there some priests of the Hebrews, and they spake to her thus: Thy words are awful; let this queen hold her peace. Sibylla answered them: O ye Jews, it must needs be so; yet ye will not believe Him. They said: We will not believe, for a tes¬timony and a word was given to our fathers, and He will not take away His hand from us. A second time she answered them: The God of Heaven shall be born, as it is written, that He shall be like His father, and thereafter the Son shall wax greater throughout ages, and there shall rise against Him the kings and princes of the earth. In those days Cćsar shall have a mighty name, and he shall hold sway at Rome, and he shall subdue the whole earth to himself. Then the chiefs of the priests shall rise against Jesus, and He shall work many miracles, and they shall take Him, and buffet Him with their cursed hands, and spit in His holy face venomous spittle, and He will offer His precious back to them to be beaten, and though He receive dishonour at their hands, He will hold His peace. For food they will give Him gall, and for drink they will give Him vinegar and gall, and they shall hang Him on the tree of passion, and slay Him, and naught shall this avail them, for on the third day He shall rise from the dead, and shew Himself to His disciples, and, as they gaze upon Him, He shall ascend into Heaven; and to His kingdom there shall be no end.

VII.--To the men of Rome spake Sibylla: The fifth sun signifies the fifth line, and in that age Jesus shall choose two fishermen from Galilea, and instruct them in His own law, and say: Go, and the teaching ye received from Me, teach all the peoples, and by three-score-and-ten tongues all the nations shall be subdued. The sixth sun is the sixth generation, and they shall rule over this city for three years. The seventh sun will he the seventh generation, and they shall arise and work much slaughter in the land of the Hebrews for the sake of God. The eighth sun is the eighth generation, and Rome shall be as if becoming no nation, and the women with child shall moan in their pangs and tribulations, and say : Thinkest thou that we shall bring forth? The ninth sun will be the ninth line, and the men of Rome shall arise to oppress many.

VIII.—There shall arise two kings from Syria, and their multitude will be countless, more in number than the sea-sand. And they shall hold the cities and kingdoms of the men of Rome, as far as Calcedonia. Then there shall be much bloodshed. All these things unless they remember, the cities and nations shall fear in them and scatter them to the East. After this, there shall arise two kings from Egypt, and they shall fight with fonr kings, and slay them with their host, and shall rule three years and six months. And after these another shall arise, C. by name, very powerful in fight, who shall rule thirty years, and build a temple to God, and shall fulfil the law, and work righteousness for God’s sake on the earth. And after these there shall arise another king who shall reign a few seasons, and they shall contend with him, and slay him. After him there shall be King Andon, and from Andon there shall come A., and from A. shall come A., and from him again A.; and the second A. will be a fighter, and a mighty warrior. And from this A. there shall come B., and from R. L., and he shall hold power and twenty kingdoms, save one.

IX.—And after these a Saliens shall arise from France, K. by name; he shall he a mighty man and gentle, mighty and merciful. And he shall do justice and righteousness to the poor. So great will be his grace in his righteousness that when he walks along the road the trees shall bow their heads before him, and the waters before him shall not linger. His like in the Empire of Rome never was before him, and shall not come after. And after him there shall come a King named L. Next to L. there shall come B. And after B. there shall come thirty-three kings, everyone called B. And from B. shall come A., and he shall be a restless man, strong in battle, and over much sea and land shall he fare; his enemies shall not get as much as a hand’s room on him; and he shall go as it were an exile out of his kingdom. And at last his spirit shall go to the Kingdom of Heaven, to God.

X.—Then shall arise a man, V. by name, a Frank on one side, a Lombard on the other, and he shall have power against his enemeies, and those that fight against him; and in those days there shall come a king called C., and he shall be very powerful, and shall show mercy to the poor and shall judge righteously. And from him shall come another, O., greatest in power, and under him there shall be battles between the Christians and Pagans, and much blood shall be shed; and seven years shall he rule and his soul shall pass to heaven. From him shall come a king, O. by name, and he shall cause carnage, mighty in his evil, without faith in righteousness; and through him shall there be many evils and blood shall be often shed, and under his power many churches shall be destroyed; in the kingdoms many tribulations shall come to pass. And there shall arise a generation in the kingdom called Cappadoeia. And they shall reduce to bondage the kingdom of Pamphylia in those days, because they enter not through the door of the sheepfold. Three years shall he rule, and after him there shall come a king, H. by name, and in those days many battles shall be fought; and he shall wage war on Samaria, and assault the kingdom of Pentapolis. That king is descended from the nation of the Lombards. Then there shall arise a king from France, O. by name, and he shall war against the men of Rome, and there shall be wars and battles, and he shall be a strong and powerful man, and he shall reign but a short time.

XI.—Then shall arise others, and savage men with them, and they shall bring into captivity places called Tarentus and Hario, and shall waste many cities. And when the men of Rome wish to come, there will be no one who shall withstand them save the God of Gods and the Lord of Lords. And then shall come the Jews, and they shall uproot Persiden, so that the cities that pray shall not he saved. And when they come to meet, they will make a trench near the East, and shall fight against the men of Rome, and make peace between them. And there shall come a wager of war, the King of Greece, to the city of Hierapolis, and he shall destroy the temple of the false gods. And then shall come great flies and beetles, and they shall eat all the trees and all the fraits of the kingdoms of Cappadocia, and Calatia they shall devour; and they shall be long afflicted with famine. And thereafter he shall not live. And another king shall arise, a fighter named R. ; verily, he shall hold sway ; and know thou certainly that many of those next to him, and of the powerful, shall rage against him.

XII.—And in those days brother shall betray brother to death, and father the son, and brother shall be united to sister, and many abominations shall be committed on the earth. The old men shall lie with maidens, and the wicked priests with virgins they deceive. The Bishops, through their evil deeds, shall not believe rightly, and blood¬shed shall be upon the earth. And the temples shall be polluted by works of secret intercourse, so that their vision may appear to them a reproach ; And men shall then be extortioners and oppressors, hating truth and loving falsehood ; and the judges of Rome shall waver ; if to-day men send for judgment without giving them aught, on the morrow they will repeal the same decision for the sake of rewards, and they shall not judge righteousness, but falsehood and perjury. And in those days there shall be extort ioners and perjurers, taking rew ards for every lie. And Law and Truth shall be destroyed and the earth shall quake in divers places, and islands and cities and king¬doms shall he overwhelmed by deluges, and there shall be tempests and plague upon the inhabitants, and the earth shall be desolated by enemies, and the vanity of their gods shall not avail to comfort them.

XIII.—And after that a King shall arise named B. ; and when he comes, he shall role a while, namely two years ; and they shall fight in his time. And after him shall come a King, called A., and he shall hold the kingdom for a space of time, and he shall come to Rome, and shall subjugate it, and they shall not be able to deliver his soul into the hand of his enemies, and in the days of his life he shall be a mighty man, and shall do justice to the poor, and shall rule a long time. And after him another king shall arise, B. by name, and from him shall proceed twelve, every one of them called B. The last shall come from Lombardy, and shall rule a hundred years. After him there shall come a king from France, called B. then shall be the beginning of sorrows. such as never have been since the beginning ig of the world ; and in those days there shall be many battles, and tribulations, and bloodshed, and there shall he none who can withstand the enemies. And then , too, shall the earth tremble through cities, and kingdoms, and many cities shall be subdued. Rome shall be razed, by fire and sword; Rome shall he taken in the hand of that king; and oppressors shall be covetous and cruel, hating the poor, and trampling upon the innocemmt, and saving the harmful. And then shall be the guiltiest and most unjust people and lordships on their borders shall be brought into captivity, and there shall be none to withstand them or uproot them from their greed and malice.

XIV.--And then shall arise a king from Greece, named Constans, and he shall be King of Greece and in Rome; he shall be mighty in person, and of fair appearance, and of splendid presence, and comely shall be the form of his body, a glorious ornament, and his kingdom shall last one hundred and twelve years. At that time there shall be rich men, and the earth shall bring forth her fruits abundantly, and the measure of wheat shall not be sold for more than a penny, and the measure of oil for a penny. And that king shall always have a letter before him, and in the letter written, The King of Greece stall bring under his yoke every Christian kingdom. And all cities and all islands of the pagans he shall destroy, and up¬root their temples, and bring all the pagans to faith, and in all temples the precious Cross shall be lifted up. Then he shall begin to give Ethiopia and Egypt to divine service ; and he that does not worship the sacred Cross shall meet his end by the edge of the sword. And when one hundred and twenty years are fulfilled, the Jews shall turn to faith in the Lord, and His blessed tomb shall be glorified by all. In those days Judah shall be wasted, and the land of Israel shall abide in faithfulness.

XV.—At that time there shall arise a prince of iniquity from the tribe of Dan, who shall be called Antichrist. He shall he a son of perdition and the head of pride and teacher of error, full of evil iniquity. He shall pervert the world, and work signs and prodigies through false representations; he shall deceive many through magical art, so that he shall be seen to launch the fire from heaven, and the years shall be shortened like the months, and the months like the weeks, and the weeks like the days, and the days like the hours. Then shall arise from the south-east nations so old of those whom Alexander sold, namely, Gog and Magog. There are twenty-two. kingdoms there, the numbers of which are not known more than the sand in the ocean. When the King of the Romans sees them, he shall call together his host, and shall battle with them, and slay them utterly.

XVI.—Thereafter he shall come to Jerusalem, and there he shall reject the crown of the kingdom and all kingly attire, and shall resign his kingdom to God the Father, and Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son. In his time there shall come the two most renowned, to wit. Elias and Enoch, to foretell that the Lord is coming after ; and Antichrist shall slay them; and the third day they shall arise through God; and then there shall be much affliction, such as never was before, nor shall come after: the Lord shall shorten those days for the sake of the elect. And Michael shall slay Antichrist in the Mount of Olives. When Sibylla had foretold these things, and many other things that should come after, and in what sign God will come to judge, Sibylla spoke in divination: As a sign of judg¬ment, the earth shall drip with sweat. From heaven a king shall come hereafter through the ages, in his flesh, to judge the world. Then faithful and unfaithful shall see the most high God, with the saints of the world at that end.

XVII.—And then the souls shall come in their bodies to the judgment. There shall be many thorns in the uncultivated earth. And the graves shall yield up those that are therein. And fire shall burn the earth, and air, and ocean, and break the gates of the pit of hell; and the good souls shall be given free light, and the evil ever¬lasting fire, to burn them. And then all shall confess their secret sins. God shall show forth the power of light. Then shall be weep¬ing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the sun be darkened, and there shall be cries in the stars, and heaven shall be turned, and the light of the moon shall fail. Then the high places shall be made low, and the valleys be lifted up; there shall not be any¬thing, either high or low, on the earth, that shall not be made level. Then shall all things have rest, and the earth shall he broken and fail, and then shall fire burn the rivers and fountains; and then a voice shall come from heaven, a trump from the heights, loud of sound, and the wretched shall be sorrowful, lamenting their sins, and their various labours. And then shall the earth show substance of hell, and before the Lord all things shall be sunk and cast down, and then shall fire of brimstone rain from heaven, and water from the same substance. And so ends the prophecy of Sibylla, and her dream.

Peniarth MS 5. Llyfr Gwyn Rydderch
Jesus MS 111. Llyfr Coch Hergest

Selections from the Hengwrt Mss. Preserved in the Peniarth Library. Williams, Robert, ed. & trans. London: Thomas Richards, 1892.

The manuscript (or scripts) used by Williams is not identified in his translation, nor in the Welsh edition in his book. However, I know that the text is in the Red Book of Hergest, in an edition which closely follows the Rhydderch edition. Thus, I felt it only useful to put up this version, as I know of no other translation of this text.