Here are the first three lines of the 2nd of the Prophetiæ Sybillarum, that of the Sybilla Lybica, set to music by Orlandus Lassus, with an English translation from Wikipedia. I haven't sorted out whether Lassus composed the hexameters from legends in circulation or if the Latin text itself comes from the early Christian period.

Ecce dies venient, quo æternus tempore princeps,
Irradians sata læta, viris sua crimina tollet,
Lumine clarescet cuius synagoga recenti:

Behold the days will come, at which time the immortal prince,
sowing abundant crops, shall take away their crimes from men,
whose synagogue will shine with new light;

Is that translation of irradians sata læta right? It seems incongruous, both with the rest of the passage and even itself. Are crops literally læta? Or is there some kind of poetic allusion or license that might explain this? Does sata have a sense other than crops? Or is this a part of the Christian myth that I never heard of before?


The oldest archaeological trace of a Jewish synagogue in Libya appears in Sirte, which the surveys in the "Barion" region date to the 10th century BCE, i.e. during King Solomon's reign. Literary evidence goes back to 13th. BCE. (Wiki 'Libya' edited) Recenti may refer to Simon of Cyrene's part in the Gospel, in which case 'recens' should be translated 'renewed,' or 'vigorous.' The festivals which typify synagoga are a) harvests and b) ethical.

a) The princeps irradiates, beams down on, the 'joyful standing corn,' --"Ripens the joyful crops " would fit the word count.
Sata conveniently does not differentiate between wheat and barley harvests. But Sata also reflects the dedication of this Sibyl's Father to Demeter (Gk for Earth (De-/Ge-) Mother) the Corn Goddess:

I am by birth half mortal, half divine;
An immortal nymph was my mother, my father an eater of grain;
On my mother's side of Idaean birth, but my fatherland was red
Marpessus, sacred to the Mother, and the river Aidoneus. (Pausanias 10.12.3)(Description of Greece, 2nd Century)

b) Tollet Crimina may refer to reflective Synagogue services such as New Year, and (Pentecost) Gift of the Law. However, Crimina (Accusations) and, in the next couplet sordida labra reorum refer primarily to her Mother and to the Sibyl's siblings.

Sordida qui solus reserabit labra reorum

Libyan Sibyl was daughter of (Zeus (or Apollo) and ) Lamia (theoi.com), mother of the monstrous Skylla; and of Akheilos "the lipless one", a shark, all three child-eaters; hence 'sordida labra.'

[Irradians beaming down: Two poems by Boethius also link the Creator to gubernator, to Sun, to crops. They are generally thought to be Neoplatonist (esp Consolation III metric9), and Consolation V metric2 quotes Iliad iii 277, another 'Sun' reference]

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Could you explain the parts besides (a)? I don't understand the connections. – brianpck Dec 24 '18 at 1:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.