The name Sybil is of Greek origin, and means prophetess, or seer. A famous seer named Sybil lived in Erythrae in Ancient Greece, and another in Cumae, a Greek colony near Naples. Sybil the pig followers in the line of her namesakes, but also in a long descent of
supposedly clairvoyant animals. The belief that animals have an additional sense or consciousness is common in popular culture, illustrated by the homeward drive of the three abandoned pets in The Incredible Journey or Black Beauty's refusal to cross a flooded bridge. In ancient Babylonian, Greek and Roman tradition, the entrails of dead animals were examined for symbolic irregularities in a process known as extispicy. The strange behaviour of birds has been said to herald an earthquake, and cows lying down to mean approaching rain. Scientific studies have proven that dogs can quite genuinely detect the approach of an epileptic seizure in their owners. However, more bizarre predictions have been attributed to animals, such as Oscar the cat who curled up on the laps of at least 50 residents of an American nursing home, shortly before each of them died. Perhaps most famous of all, at least in recent years, was Paul the German octopus, who correctly predicted the results of each of Germany's games in the 2010 football World Cup by choosing food from boxes marked with each country's flag.
Colonel Kearney's phrase, the 'Ludic Game', relates to the game of life, of chance, which he plays in presenting his circus to the whims of the world. Ludic derives from the Latin ludus, to play.
In JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, the teacher of divination - or fortune telling - is named Sybil Trelawney, whilst Ludo Bagman is a sports hero and compulsive gambler.