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{p. 188}


Introduction, 1-6. From the flood to the tower of Babel, 7-22. Egyptian kings and judges, 23-40. The exodus and giving of the law, 41-47. A notable Egyptian king, 48-53. The Persian domination, 54-68. Woes of many nations, 69-89. Rule of the Indian prince, 90-105. The great Assyrian king Solomon, 106-123. Many and mighty kings, 124-136. Alexander's fierce wars, 137-143. Origin of Rome, 144-160. The fall of Ilium, 161-189. Escape of Æneas and founding of the Latin race, 190-216. The wise old minstrel, 217-227. Wars of the nations, 228-236. The terrible invader of Greece, 237-248. Philip of Macedon, 249-259. Alexander the Conqueror, 260-298. The kings of Egypt, 299-315. Egypt an asylum for the Jews, 316-320. The eight kings and treacherous queen of Egypt, 321-344. Reign of the Roman Cæsars, 345-365. Fall of Cleopatra, 366-394. Subjection of Egypt, 395-416. The Sibyl's testimony of herself, 417-429.

{p. 189}


O WORLD of men wide-scattered, and long walls,
The cities huge and nations numberless,
Throughout the east and west and south and north,
Divided off by various languages
5 And kingdoms; other things, the very worst,
Against you I am now about to speak.
    For from the time when on the earlier men
The flood came and the Almighty One himself
Destroyed that race by many waters, then
10 Brought he in yet another race of men
Untiring; and they, setting themselves up
Against heaven, built to height unspeakable
A tower; and tongues of all were loosed again;
And on them hurled came wrath of God most high,
15 By which the tower unutterably great
Fell; and against each other they stirred up
An evil strife. And then of mortal men
Was the tenth race since these things came to pass;

[1. The four following books were first published by Angelo Mai, in 1828, and in the manuscripts and in the editions of Alexandre and Rzach are numbered xi-xiv. There would seem, therefore, to have existed two other books, ix and x, which may yet come to light, as did books xi-xiv after various printed editions of the first eight books had appeared. We deem it better, therefore, to adhere to the numbering of the manuscripts and the two principal editions of the Greek text than with Friedlieb to number these later books as ix-xii. This eleventh book deals largely with matters of Egyptian history, but contains also various oracles against other nations. Its date and authorship are uncertain.

7-20. Comp. book, iii, 117-132.]


{p. 190}

And the whole earth was among foreign men
20 And various languages distributed,
Whose numbers I will tell and in acrostics
Of the initial letter show the name.
    And first shall Egypt royal power receive
Preeminent and just; and then in her
25 Shall many-counseling men be governors;
Moreover then a fearful man shall rule,
Close-fighter very strong; and he shall have
This letter of the acrostic of his name:
Sword shall he stretch out against pious men.
30 And while this one is ruler there shall be
A fearful sign in the Egyptian land,
Which, gladdening very greatly, shall with corn
Souls perishing with famine then supply;
The law-giver, himself a prisoner,
35 The East and offspring of Assyrian men
Shall nourish; and his name know thou . . .
. . . of the measure of the number ten.
But when there shall come from the radiant heaven
Ten strokes of judgment upon Egypt, then
40 Will I again proclaim these things to thee.
Memphis, alas, alas for thee! alas,
Great royal one! the Erythræan sea
Shall thy much people utterly destroy.

[23. First . . . Egypt.--Comp. book iii, 191-195, and the names and order of kingdoms then given with lines 57, 80, 86, 106, 138, and 144.

28. This letter.--Referring to the letter Phi, which begins the next line in the Greek text (in the word {Greek fa'sgana}, sword), the initial of the name Pharaoh.

35. Assyrian.--The Sibyl thinks of the Hebrews as emigrants from Assyria, or the far East. So again in line 106 below.

37. Pen.--The Greek letter for ten is {Greek I}, the initial of the Greek form of the name Joseph.]


{p. 191}

Then when the people of twelve tribes shall leave
45 The fruitful land of ruin by command
Of the Immortal, the Lord God himself
Will also give a law unto mankind.
And o'er the Hebrews then a mighty king
Magnanimous shall rule, and have a name
50 Derived from sandy Egypt, Theban man
Of doubtful native land; and Memphis he,
Dread serpent, will show outward signs of love,
And he will watch o'er many things in wars.
    Now the tenth kingdom being twelve times complete
55 Seven besides and even unto the tenth hundred,
Others being altogether left behind,
Then shall arise the Persian sovereignty.
And then an evil shall befall the Jews,
Famine and pestilence intolerable
60 They do not make escape from in that day.
    But when a Persian shall rule, and a son
Of his son's son shall lay the scepter down,
While years roll round to five fours, and to these
A hundred more, and thou a hundred nines
65 Shalt finish and all things shalt thou repay;
And then unto the Persians and the Medes
Shalt thou be given over as a slave,
Destroyed with blows by reason of hard fights.
    Straightway to Persians and Assyrians
70 And to all Egypt shall an evil come,
And to Libya and the Ethiopians,
And to the Carians and Pamphylians
And to all other mortals. And he then

[48-105. The historical references in these lines are so uncertain that we essay no comments.]


{p. 192}

Shall to the grandsons give the royal power,
75 Who again snatching the whole earth away
Shall plunder races for their many spoils,
Not having fellow-feeling. Mournful dirges
Shall the sad Persians by the Tigris wail,
And Egypt water many a land with tears.
80    And then to thee, O Median land, a man
Of wealth abundant and of Indian birth
Shall many evils do, till thou repay
All things which thou, possessed of shameless soul,
Hast done before. Alas, alas for thee,
85 Thou Median nation; thou shalt afterwards
Be servant unto Ethiopian men
Beyond the land of Meroe; wretched thou
Shalt from the first seven and a hundred years
Complete, and put thy neck beneath the yoke.
90    And then an Indian of dark countenance
And gray hair and great soul shall afterwards
Become lord, who shall many evils bring
Upon the East by reason of hard fights;
And he shall treat thee more despitefully
95 And shall destroy all thy men. But when he
The twentieth and the tenth year shall be king,
Among them, also seven and the tenth,
Then every nation of a royal power
Shall be mad and declare their liberty,
100 And during three years leave their servile blood.
But he shall come again and every nation
Of valiant men shall put their neck again
Under the yoke, serve the king as before,
And of its own free will again obey.
105 There shall be great peace throughout all the world.


{p. 193}

    And then o'er the Assyrians there shall rule
A mighty king, a man preeminent,
And shall persuade all to speak pleasing things,
Which God ordained according to the law;
110 Then all kings arrogant with pointed spears
Timid and speechless shall before him quail,
And him shall very powerful rulers serve
Because of counsels of the mighty God;
For he will carry all things in detail
115 By reason, and all things will he subject,
And he the temple of the mighty God
And lovely altar will himself erect
In his might, and will hurl the idols down;
And gathering tribes together, both the race
120 Of fathers and the helpless little ones,
He shall encompass the inhabitants;
His name shall have two hundred for its number,
And of the eighteenth letter show the sign.
But when for rolling decades two and five
125 He shall rule, going forwards towards the end
Of his time, there shall be as many kings
As there are tribes of men, as there are clans,
As there are cities, and as isles and coasts,
And fields and lands that bring forth goodly fruit.
130 But one of these shall be a mighty king,
A leader among men; and many kings
Of lofty spirit shall submit to him,
And to his sons and grandsons opulent
Give portions on account of royal power.

[107. Mighty king.--Reference to Solomon.

122. Two hundred.--Represented by Sigma, the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and initial of Solomon.

130. Mighty king.--Probable reference to Cyrus.]


{p. 194}

135 Decades of decades, eight ones upon these
Of years shall they rule, and at last shall end.
    But when with cruel Ares there shall come
A powerful wild beast, even then for thee,
O queenly land, shall wrath spring forth again.
140    Alas, alas for thee, then Persian land;
What an outpouring of the blood of men
Shalt thou receive when that stronger-minded man
Comes to thee; then I'll shout these things again.
    But when Italian soil shall generate,
145 Great wonder unto mortals, there shall be
Moans of young children by a fountain pure,
In shady cavern off spring of wild beast
That feeds on sheep, who unto manhood grown
Shall upon seven strong hills with reckless soul
150 Hurl many headlong down, in numbers both
Having a hundred, and their names shall show
A great sign to them that are yet to be;
And they shall build upon the seven hills
Strong walls and wage around them grievous war.
155 And then again shall there be growing up
Revolt of men around thee, then great land
Of fine ears, high-souled Egypt; but again

[135. Decades of decades.--If we take this to mean twice ten decades, and add eight more, we have two hundred and eight, a near approximation of the duration of the Persian monarchy.

138. Wild beast.--Reference to Alexander the Great.

146-148. Comp. book v, 14, 15.

151. A hundred.--Represented by the Greek letter {Greek R}, initial of Romulus and Remus.

152. Great signs.--probably in the thought that the first letter of these names is also the initial of Rome, the eternal city, the symbol of power.]


{p. 195}

I'll cry these things. And yet then shalt receive
A great stroke in thy houses; and again
160 Shall there be a revolt of thine own men.
Now over thee, O wretched Phrygia,
I weep in pity; for to thee from Greece,
Tamer of horses, there shall conquest come
And war and plague by reason of hard fights.
165 Ilium, I pity thee; for there shall come
From Sparta an Erinys to thy halls
Mixed with a deadly sting; and most of all
Shall she bring thee toils, troubles, groans, and wails,
When well-skilled men the battle shall begin,
170 By far the noblest heroes of the Greeks
Who are to Ares dear. And one of these
Shall be a strong brave king; of foulest deeds
He for his brother's sake will go in quest.
And they shall overthrow the famous walls
175 Of Phrygian Troy; when of the rolling years
Twice five shall be filled with the bloody deeds
Of savage war, a wooden artifice
Shall sudden cover men, and on thy knees
Thou shalt receive this, not perceiving it
180 To be an ambush pregnant with the Greeks,
O cause of grievous woe. Alas, alas,
How much in one night Hades shall receive,
And what spoils of the old man weeping much
Shall he bear off! But with those yet to come
185 Shall be undying fame. And the great king,
A hero sprung from Zeus, shall have his name
Of the first letter of the alphabet;

[165. Comp. book iii, 516. The lines following rehearse the story of Troy.

186. Great king.--Agamemnon, who on his return was slain by his wife, Clytemnestra.]


{p. 196}

Homewards shall he in order go. And then
Shall he fall by a treacherous woman's hand.
190    And there shall rule a child sprung from the race
And the blood of Assaracus, renowned
Of heroes, both a strong and valiant man.
And he shall come out of the mighty fire
Of ravaged Troy, fleeing from fatherland
195 By reason of the fearful toil of war;
Bearing his aged father on his shoulders
And also holding his son by the hand
He shall perform a pious work of law,
Who, looking cautiously about him, cleft
200 The onset of the fire of burning Troy,
And hurrying through the multitude in dread
He shall pass over land and fearful sea.
And he shall have a trisyllabic name,
For the beginning of the alphabet
205 Points out this highest man as not unknown.
And then a city for the powerful Latins
He will raise up. And in his fifteenth year,
Destroyed by waters in the depths of sea,
Shall he lay hold on the event of death.
210 But him though dead the nations of mankind
Shall not forget; for his race over all
Shall rule hereafter even to Euphrates
And river Tigris, throughout the mid land
Of the Assyrians, where the Parthians
215 Extended. For those who are yet to come
It shall be, when all these things come to pass.

[190. Child.--Æneas. Comp. book v, 10-12.

208. Destroyed by waters.--According to one tradition, Æneas was drowned in the river Numicus.]


{p. 197}

    And there shall be an old man, minstrel wise,
Whom all shall among mortals call most wise,
By whose good understanding the whole world
920 Shall be instructed; for his chapters he
According to their power of thoughts will write.
And wisely will he write most marvelous things,
At times appropriating words of mine
Measures and verses; for he shall the first
225 My books unfold and after these things bide them
And unto men bring them to light no more
Until the end of baneful death and life.
    But when forthwith these things have been fulfilled
Which I spoke, yet again the Greeks shall fight
230 With one another; and Assyrians,
Arabians and the quiver-bearing Medes,
And Persians and Sicilians shall rise up,
And Lydians, Thracians and Bithynians,
And they who dwell in the land of fair corn
235 Beside the streams of Nile; and among all
Will God the imperishable put at once
Confusion. But exceeding terribly
Shall an Assyrian base-born fiery man
Come suddenly, possessed of beastly soul,
240 And looking cautiously about him cut
Through every isthmus, going against all,
And sailing o'er the sea. Then, faithless Greece,
To thee shall happen very many things.
    Alas, alas for thee, O wretched Greece,
245 How many things thou art obliged to wail!

[217. Old man.--Homer. Comp. book iii, 523-541.

238. Assyrian.--Probably referring to Xerxes. The epithet Assyrian seems to have a broad and loose significance with this writer, who in line 106 above calls Solomon an Assyrian. Comp. also line 35.]


{p. 198}

And during seven and eighty rolling years
Thou shalt the miserable refuse be
Of fearful battle among all the tribes.
    Then shall a Macedonian man again
250 Bring forth for Hellas woe and shall destroy
All Thrace, and toil of Ares on the isles
And coasts and the war-loving Triballi.
    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
He shall among the foremost fighters be,
And he shall share that name which shows the sign
255 Of numbers ten times fifty. And short-lived
Shall he be; but behind him he shall leave
The greatest kingdom on the boundless earth.
But by base spearman he himself shall fall
While thought to live in quiet as none else.
260    And afterwards shall a great-hearted child
Of this one rule, beginning with his name
The alphabet; but his race shall pass out.
Not of Zeus, not of Amnion shall they call
This one true son, yet still a bastard son
265 Of Cronos as they all imagine him.
And cities he of many mortal men
Shall plunder; and for Europe shall shoot up
The greatest sore. And also terribly
Will he abuse the city Babylon,

[249. Macedonian.--Philip of Macedon, whose initial, Phi ({Greek F}), stands in the Greek numerals for 500.

258. Base spearman.--Pausanias, one of the royal guards, who assassinated Philip on his way to the theater.

259. To live in quiet.--Conjectural reading.

263. Comp. book v, 8, 9. This entire picture of Alexander (lines 260-298) is peculiar to the writer of this book.]


{p. 199}

270 And every land the sun looks down upon,
And he alone shall sail both east and west.
    Alas, alas for thee, O Babylon,
Thou shalt serve triumphs, who wast called a queen;
Down upon Asia Ares comes, he comes
275 Surely and shall thy many children slay.
And then shalt thou send forth thy royal man
Named by the number four, expert with spear
Among the mighty warriors, terrible,
Shooting with bow and arrow. And then famine
280 And war shall hold possession of the midst
Of the Cilicians and Assyrians;
But kings of lofty spirit shall embrace
The dreadful state of heart-consuming strife.
But do thou, fleeing, leave the former king,
285 Be neither willing to remain nor fear
To be unhappy; for on thee shall come
A dreadful lion, a flesh-eating beast,
Wild, strange to justice, wearing on his shoulders
A mantle. Flee the thunder-smiting man.
290 And Asia all shall bear an evil yoke,
And many a murder shall the wet earth drink.
    But when a mighty city prosperous
Ares of Pella shall in Egypt found,
And it shall be named from him, fate and death,
295 By his companions treacherously betrayed
    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
For barbarous murder shall destroy this man
Around the tables when he shall have left
The Indians and shall come to Babylon.

[277. Four.--Represented by Delta ({Greek D}), the initial of Darius (Codomannus), who was defeated by Alexander.]


{p. 200}

Thereafter other kings, in a few years,
300 Devourers of the people, arrogant
And faithless, shall rule each by his own tribe;
But a great-hearted hero, who shall glean
All fenced Europe, from the time each land
Shall drink the blood of all tribes, shall forthwith
305 Abandon life, unloosing his own fate.
And other kings there shall be, twice four men
Of his race, and the same name to them all.
    And there shall be a bride of Egypt then
Commanding and a noble city great
310 Of Macedonian lord, queen Alexandria,
Famed nourisher of cities, shining fair
She alone shall be the metropolis.
Let Memphis then upbraid them that command.
And peace shall be deep throughout all the world;
315 Then shall the land of black soil have more fruits.
    And then there shall come evil to the Jews,
Nor shall they in that day make their escape
From famine and intolerable plague;
But the new world of black soil and fair corn,
320 Divine land, shall receive much-wandering men.

[302. Hero.--Referring most probably to Antigonus, the most famous of Alexander's immediate successors, who certainly gleaned all western Asia, if not Europe.

306. Twice four men.--The eight famous Ptolemies of Egypt, who were of Macedonian origin.

312. Let Memphis then upbraid.--Because overshadowed and superseded by the Ptolemies, who made Alexandria the sole metropolis. There is in the Greek text here a play on the word Memphis--memphestho Memphis.

316. Evil to the Jews.--Reference to the capture of Jerusalem by Ptolemy I, and the transportation of a great number of Jews to Egypt. See Josephus, Ant., xii, 1.

320. Wandering men.--Scattered by famine and seeking a now and better country. Alexandre reads ruined men.]


{p. 201}

    But marshy Egypt's eight kings shall fill up
The numbers of two hundred years and three
And thirty. Yet shall offspring perish not
Of all of them, but there shall issue forth
325 A female root, a bane of mortal men,
Betrayer of her kingdom. But they shall
According to their evil deeds perform
Their wickedness thereafter, and one here
Another there shall perish; son that wears
330 The purple shall cut off his warlike sire,
And he himself in turn by his own son,
And ere he shall put forth another shoot
He shall cease; but a root shall sprout again
Thereafter of itself; and there shall be
335 A race beside him growing. For a queen
There shall be of the land by Nilus' streams
Which comes down through seven mouths into the sea,
And her name very lovely shall be that
Of the number twenty; and she will demand
340 Numberless things and gather up all goods
Of gold and silver; but from her own men

[322. The period of the eight Ptolemies is commonly reckoned from Ptolemy I (Soter), B. C. 323, to Ptolemy VIII (Soter II), B. C. 81, or about 242 years.

325. Female root.--The famous Cleopatra would seem most obviously intended, but the associated events (lines 346-354) appear to be those of the disorders and crimes of the times following the reign of the eighth Ptolemy. Hence, perhaps, this "betrayer of her kingdom" may best refer to the mother of the eighth Ptolemy (Soter II), who expelled him from Egypt and placed the crown on the head of her favorite son, Alexander.

339. Twenty.--The letter K, initial of the Greek form of the name Cleopatra. Here, without doubt, the last queen of Egypt, the famous daughter of Ptolemy Auletes, is intended.]


{p. 202}

Shall treachery befall her. Then again
For thee, O dusky land, shall there be wars
And battles and great slaughter of mankind.
345    When many over fertile Rome shall rule,
Examples not at all of happy men,
But tyrants, and there be of thousands chiefs
And of ten thousands, and the overseers
Of popular assemblies under law,
350 Then shall the mightiest Cæsars bear the rule
Ill-fated all their days; and of these last
Shall for initial have the number ten,
Last Cæsar stretching on the earth his limbs,
Struck by dire Ares by a hostile man,
355 Whom carrying in their hands the youth of Rome
Shall. bury piously, and over him
Pour out their token for his friendship's sake
Rendering a tribute to his memory.
    But when thou shalt come to an end of time
360 And hast completed twice three hundred years
And twice ten, from the time when he shall rule
Who is thy founder, child of the wild beast,
There shall no longer a dictator be
Ruling a measured period; but a lord
365 Shall become king, man equal to the gods.
    Then, Egypt, know the king that comes to thee;
And dreadful Ares of the glittering helm
Shall surely come. For there shall be for thee,

[351. Last.--In the sense of loftiest, noblest. The Greek initial of Julius is the letter which stands for ten. Comp. book v, 16-19.

360. The date of the foundation of Rome is usually set B. C. 753. Both here and in book xii, 16, the time intervening between this and the first Cæsar is said to be 620 years.

366. Egypt and the queen, Cleopatra, are poetically addressed as one.]


{p. 203}

O widowed one, a capture afterwards;
370 For round the walls of thy land there shall be
Terrible raging mischief-working wars.
But having suffered misery in wars
Thou, wretched, shalt thyself flee from above
Those lately wounded; and then to the couch
375 Shalt thou come to the dreadful man himself;
The wedlock, sharing one bed, is the end.
Alas, alas for thee, ill-wedded bride,
Thy royal power unto the Roman king
Shalt thou give, and thou shalt repay all things,
380 Which thou aforetime didst with masculine hands;
Thou shalt give the whole land by way of dower
As far as Libya and the dark-skinned men
To the resistless man. And thou shalt be
No more a widow, but thou shalt cohabit
385 With a man-eating lion terrible,
A furious warrior. And then shalt thou be
Unhappy and among all men unknown;
For thou shalt leave possessed of shameless soul;
And thee, the stately, shall the encircling tomb
390 Receive . . . is gone . . . living within . . .
Adapted at the summits, beautiful,
Wrought curiously, and a great multitude
Shall mourn thee and the dreadful king shall make
A piteous lamentation over thee.
395    And then shall Egypt be the toiling slave

[373. Here Cleopatra's flight to Julius Caesar seems to have been in the mind of the writer; and throughout this passage the Sibylline poet appears to confound events of different periods, part of which occurred with Antony, part with Julius Cæsar, to whom Cleopatra bore a son.

390, 391. The text is so mutilated at this point as to leave the exact sentiment of the writer quite unintelligible.]


{p. 204}

Who many years against the Indians bears
Her trophies; and she shall serve shamefully,
And with the river, the fruit-bearing Nile,
her tears, for haying gathered wealth
400 And store of all good things, a nourisher
Of cities, she shall feed sheep-eating race
Of fearful men. All, to how many beasts,
O very wealthy Egypt, thou shalt be
Booty and spoil, but giving peoples laws;
405 And formerly delighting in great kings
Thou shalt to peoples be a wretched slave
On account of that people, whom of old
Piously living thou led'st to much woe
Of toils and wailings, and didst put a plow
410 Upon their neck and irrigate the fields
With mortal tears. Therefore the Lord himself,
The imperishable God who dwells in heaven,
Shall utterly destroy and send thee on
To wailing; and thou shalt make recompense
415 For what thou didst unlawfully of old,
    And know at last that God's wrath came to thee.
But I to Python and to Panopeus
Of goodly towers shall go; and then shall all
Declare that 1 am a true prophetess
420 Oracle-singing, yet a messenger
With maddened soul. . . .
And when thou shalt come forward to the books
Thou shalt not tremble, and all things to come

[407. That people.--Referring to the Hebrews and their ancient Egyptian bondage.

417. Python . . . Panopeus.--Shrines of Apollo in Phocis, Greece; Python is put for Delphi, and Panopeus was not far distant.

419-429. Comp. book iii, 1008-1016, and the close of books xii and xiii.]


{p. 205}

And things that were ye shall know from our words;
425 Then none shall call the God-seized prophetess
An oracle-singer of necessity.
But now, Lord, end my very lovely strain,
Driving off frenzy and real voice inspired
And fearful madness, and give charming song.


{p. 206}

{p. 207}

Next: Book XII.