First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Sibilla Agrippa, in a rose-colored dress, and not so very young, holds one hand to her bosom as if surprised, while with the other she points to a brief writing which says: "The unseen word will be touched, and will bring one forth as from a root. He will wither like a leaf, and his beauty will not be apparent. The motherly body will be encompassed and God will blossom forth in eternal joy. And he will be trodden down by man. He will be born of a mother, as a god, but will wander about as a sinner. A heathen saw this glory."

Sibilla Libica, adorned with a green floral wreath, clothed in a modest mantle, and also not very young, speaks thus: "Believe this as true, The day will come, and the Lord will illumine the density of darkness; and the bond of the synagogue will be released, and the last of the human race will come to an end and see the king of the living. A virgin will hold him in her bosom, a mistress to the pagans. And he will rule in mercy, and the body of his mother will be a balance or scale for the people of the age."

Sibilla Delphica, was born before the Trojan War. She is clad in black. Her hair is dressed in a coronet braid, and she is of youthful stature. In her hand she holds a horn. She says: "A prophet will be born of a virgin without human intercourse."

Sibilla Frigia, in a red dress, her arms bare, a sad elderly countenance and tousled hair. She points with a finger and says: "From heaven on high he will come and he will strengthen his council in heaven. And a virgin in the valley of the wilderness will receive the annunciation."

Sibilla Samia, young in person, with a beautiful bosom, wearing a subtle veil, and holding her hand to her breast, speaks: "Accept this for truth, A wealthy one is coming, born of a poor woman. The animals of the earth will worship him and cry out and say: In the forecourts of heaven you shall praise him."

Sibilla Europa, young and beautiful, of ruddy face, framed in the subtlest veil, and wearing a dress embroidered in gold, points to a short inscription, and says: "He will come, and he will pass over the hills and the hidden waters of heaven, or the mountain Olympus. He will govern in poverty and reign in silence, and come forth from the womb of a virgin."

Sibilla Persica, in a dress of gold and a white veil, speaks thus: "Take for true, you irrational animal that is trodden upon, the Lord will be born within the confines of the earth. And the lap of the Virgin will be a salvation to the pagans, and his feet will be employed in the advancement of mankind, and the hidden word will be touched."

I have also found another Sibyl (whose name I have not been able to learn). She testifies to Christ, and speaks: "Out of the tribes of the Hebrews will come forth a woman named Mary, who has a spouse by the name of Joseph. Out of her will issue, without cohabitation with man, but through the Holy Ghost, the Son of God, called Jesus. And she will be a virgin before and after the birth. He who will be born of her will be a true God and a real man. And he will fulfill the laws of the Jews, adding his own laws to them. His kingdom will remain upon earth. Over him will come a voice, saying This is my beloved Son, Him you shall hear. He will be the resurrection of the dead. He will speedily cure the lame and crippled; and the deaf will hear, the blind will see, and the dumb will speak. With five loaves of bread and two fishes many thousands of people will be fed. With a word he will allay the winds and calm the raging sea. And he will tread the sea with his feet and wander about on the waters. He will relieve the sick and drive away much pain."

Item: Another Sibyl, called Erythraea, said: "In the last age God will become patient, and the godly race will become human and the Deity will come among humanity. The lamb will lay down in the hay, and God and man will be sustained by a virgin’s care. And he will elect twelve from among the fishermen and the rejected."


These prophetic ladies are represented by eight distinct portraits, four to the left and four to the right of the text. In view of the fact that the chronicler has already described them, not much remains to be said. In reading these descriptions we note that the chronicler has introduced the element of color: The dress of the Phrygian Sibyl is said to be red; while that of Sibyla Agrippa is rose-colored. The Libyan, or Egyptian Sibyl, is said to be adorned with a green wreath. The European Sibyl has rosy cheeks, while the Persian Sibyl is represented as dressed in gold and white.

The last, or ‘very spiritual’ Sibyl (Sibilla q(ua)dam valde religiosa), is undoubtedly the invention of the chronicler himself. The Erythrean prophetess is mentioned in the text but not honored in the gallery. The Cumean, Tiburtine, Hellespontine, Cimmerian, Babylonian, Sardinian and Egyptian Sibyls (unless the latter is included under the Libyan) are neither mentioned in the text nor portrayed. On the other hand, in addition to the Spiritual or Religious Sibyl already mentioned, the Chronicle speaks of and illustrates the Sibyls of Agrippa, Persia and Europe.

The confusion arises through the fact that the ancients have not agreed upon either the names or the numbers of these prophetic women.