Legends of the Sibilline Mountains is a small book about an obscure corner of Italy and an equally obscure backwater of world literature. And yet the subjects it touches upon amongst them, the roots of literature in popular consciousness, the intimations of Christian existentialism, the absorption of pagan traditions into Christianity reach far and wide. Goddess worship, necromantic rites, the death of Pontius Pilate, Benevenuto Cellini, Goethe's "Faust" Wagner's "Tannhauser"...they all connect here in a real place of strange geological formations and magical beauty. The Sibilline Mountains, dividing Le Marche from Umbria, were "celebrated in the 14th and 15th centuries throughout all Europe for magical fairytales and necromantic initiations," according to the author Giuseppe Santarelli. In the most famous of these tales a mysterious Sibyl inhabits a grotto devoted to the pleasures of the flesh, luring knights to eternal damnation. Another legend concerns the Lago di Pilato, a mountaintop lake where Pontius Pilate's body had been cast, that later became a destination for demonic rituals. In a witty and personal tone Santarelli discusses the origins of the myths in folklore, their literary transformations through the centuries, and the archeological traces they left behind. This is the first English translation.
Giuseppe Santarelli was born in 1936 in Monte Giberto, a hill town of the Marches, Italy. He graduated from the Catholic University of Milan where for a decade (1967-1976) he taught Italian literature and language. He is the author of various esteemed essays on literature, history and art. Since 1982 he has been director of the Universal Congregation of the Holy House of Loreto and "Il Messaggio della Santa Casa/The Message of the Holy House."