The sibyls were female prophets or oracles in Ancient Greece. The earliest sibyls, according to legend, prophesied at holy sites. Their prophecies were influenced by divine inspiration from a deity, originally at Delphi and Pessinos. In Late Antiquity, various writers attested to the existence of sibyls in Greece, Italy, the Levant, and Asia Minor.
The English word sibyl comes—via the Old French sibile and the Latin sibylla—from the ancient Greek Σίβυλλα (Sibylla).
Walter Burkert observes that “frenzied women from whose lips the god speaks” are recorded very much earlier in the Near East, as in Mari in the second millennium and in Assyria in the first millennium”.
Until the literary elaborations of Roman writers, sibyls were not identified by a personal name, but by names that refer to the location of their temenos, or shrine.