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Prophecy and the Sibylline Books

December 5, 2016 • Los Angeles

RomeOne of the fundamental stories of Roman history is about the Sibylline Books, sold to the king of Rome before it became a republic by an oracle, the Cumaean Sibyl. The nine volumes, written by the sibyl and her cohorts, contained the entire future of Rome. The story has tantalizing themes so common in mythology. The king refused to pay the price demanded for the books, so the oracle burned three of them; eventually only three were left, and he agreed to pay her initial ask. It seems that the books really did exist, despite the fantastical origin story, and were closely guarded by the Senate and eventually deliberately destroyed. The books were consulted for guidance at times of crisis.

The same story is echoed in the myth of the Marian prophecies, where the Virgin Mary entrusted 19th-century saint-to-be Bernadette with predictions about the future of Europe so shocking that only the pope himself could be entrusted with the secret.

It’s an intriguing idea, that a physical account of future events could exist on paper somewhere. In the real world, would it be a closely guarded secret? Of course it would give any banker or government a huge competitive advantage, but what if the material was of a more personal nature. Would you look? I can tell you this: Mason has no trepidation about time-traveling, but he’s not going to be reading his own version of the Sibylline Books any time soon.

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