In many nations divination and priesthood have always gone hand in hand; at Rome, for example, the augurs and the XV viri sacrorum, who interpreted the Sibylline books, were priestly colleges.
Such celebrations must be distinguished from those which were ordered, like the earlier lectisternia, by the Sibylline books in special emergencies.
But more significant still was the order of the Sibylline books in 206 B.C. for the introduction of the worship of the Magna Mater(see Great Mother Of The Gods) from Pessinus and her ultimate installation on the Palatine in 191 B.C.: the door was thus opened to the wilder and more orgiastic cults of Greece and the Orient, which at once laid hold on the popular mind.
With this object he consecrated there his new temple of Apollo (28 B.C.), associated for long with the Julian house, and adopted by Augustus as his special patron at Actium, and transferred to its keeping the Sibylline books, thus marking the new headquarters of the Graeco-Roman religion.
It is only in Alexandria, where the Jews were still subject to the yoke of the Gentile, that at this time (c. 140 B.C.) we find the oldest Sibylline verses (iii.
Otherwise, reference was made for an interpretation to the pontifices in olden times,afterwards frequently to the Sibylline books,or the Etruscan haruspices, when the incident was not already provided for by a rule, as, for example, that it was unlucky for a person leaving his house to meet a raven, that the sudden death of a person from epilepsy at a public meeting was a sign to break up the assembly.
His crowning sin (recorded by the poet alone) was the destruction of the Sibylline books - a sin worthy of one who had decked his wife in the spoils of Victory, the goddess who had for centuries presided over the deliberations of the senate.
By order of the Sibylline books, a temple was built to these three deities near the Circus Flaminius; the whole cultus was borrowed from the Greeks, down even to the terminology, and priestesses were brought from the Greek cities.
But when Greek deities were introduced into Rome on the advice of the Sibylline books (in 495 B.C., on the occasion of a severe drought), Demeter, the Greek goddess of seed and harvest, whose worship was already common in Sicily and Lower Italy, usurped the place of Ceres in Rome, or rather, to Ceres were added the religious rites which the Greeks paid to Demeter, and the mythological incidents which originated with her.
Victorinus wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse of John; and all these theologians, especially Lactantius, were diligent students of the ancient Sibylline oracles of Jewish and Christian origin, and treated them as divine revelations.