Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Cave of the Sibyl

According to the Roman poet Virgil, the entrance to the underworld lies inside the Cave of the Sibyl, a hole cut into the cliff that circumscribes Lake Avernus, a volcanic lake northwest of Naples, Italy.

Outside the sibyl's cave, you can see a sign carved into stone:

The quote is from Virgil's Aeneid, Book VI, verses 42-4

Excisum Euboicae latus ingens rupis in antrum,
quo lati ducunt aditus centum, ostia centum;
unde ruunt totidem voces, responsa Sibyllae.

John Dryden translates:

"Thro' the hill's hollow sides: before the place,
A hundred doors a hundred entries grace;
As many voices issue, and the sound
Of Sybil's words as many times rebound."

From E. Fairfax Taylor's version:

"Into the lofty temple now with speed,—
A huge cave hollowed in the mountain's side,—
The priestess calls the Teucrians. Thither lead
A hundred doors, a hundred entries wide,
A hundred voices from the rock inside
Peal forth, the Sibyl answering. "

The modern visitor is provided a map of the inner labyrinth:

Unfortunately, this map only charts the upper chambers of the cave, and does not include the netherworld below.

For that, you're advised to bring a well-worn copy of Dante's Inferno.

Shall we go inside?


Anonymous said...

I don't really want to go inside, but if I send my questions, will someone else take them for me?

Peggy K said...

I get a bit creeped out just thinking of an underground labyrinth. If you go, be sure to unwind a ball of string ala Theseus to find your way back out!

Talia said...

Gee you two are wimps ROFL. I'd be happy to go, with a tall dark handsome karate expert...

David Wisehart said...

There are no karate experts in my novel, but there is a Knight Templar who leads my pilgrims down into the Inferno.

Bk30 said...

Karate expert, Knight Templar...either will do in a Another place I can add to my " Places I'd like to see" list.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty cool -- I had no idea the entrance to the underworld was so accessible. :)

stacey said...

Fascinating! I've brought breadcrumbs, I'll follow you down, Hansel...

Unknown said...

I'll go. Just let me just get my camera and some bread crumbs!

Harbormaster said...

I'll let everyone take a peek, while I guard the entrance. Hopefully the local government doesn't lose too many visitors to the labyrinth, it could cause marketing problems.

Anonymous said...

Such wimpy dimpys you all are!!
it's just like a big underground mase!!! just think, being alone with history, and possibly a cute man to help with, things...

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