previous next


CAMARI´NA (Καμάρινα or Καμαρῖνα: Eth. Καμαριναῖος, Eth. Camarinensis: Camarana), a celebrated Greek city of Sicily, situated on the S. coast of the island, at the mouth of the little river Hipparis. It was about 20 miles E. of Gela, and 40 from Cape Pachynum. Thucydides tells us that it was a colony of Syracuse, founded 135 years after the establishnment of the parent city, i. e. 599 B.C., and this date is confirmed by the Scholiast on Pindar, which places its foundation in the 45th Olympiad. (Thuc. 6.5; Schol. ad Pind. Oil 5.16; Euseb. Chron. ad Ol. XLV.) It must have risen rapidly to prosperity, as only 46 years after its first foundation it attempted to throw off the yoke of the parent city, but the effort proved unsuccessful; and, as a punishment for its revolt, the Syracusans destroyed the refractory city from its foundations, B.C. 552. (Thuc. l.c.; Scymn. Ch.294--296; Schol. ad Pind. l.c.) It appears to have remained desolate until about B.C. 495, when Hippocrates, tyrant of Gela, by a treaty with Syracuse, obtained possession of the territory of Camarina, and recolonised the city, himself assuming the title of its founder or oekist. (Thuc. l.c.; Hdt. 7.154; Philist. ap. Schol. ad Pind. Ol. 5.19.) This second colony did not last long, having been put an end to by Gelon, the successor of Hippocrates, who, after he had made himself master of Syracuse, in B.C. 485, removed thither all the inhabitants of Camarina, and a second time destroyed their city. (Hdt. 7.156; Thuc. l.c.; Philist. l.c.) But after the expulsion of Thrasybulus from Syracuse, and the return of the exiles to their respective cities, the people of Gela, for the third time, established a colony at Camarina, and portioned out its territory among the new settlers. (Diod. 11.76; Thuc. l.c., where there is no doubt that we should read Γελῴων for Γέλωνος; Schol. ad Pind. Ol. 5.19.) It is to this third foundation, which must have taken place about B.C. 461, that Pindar refers in celebrating the Olympic victory of Psaumis of Camarina, when he calls that city his newly-founded abode (τὰν νέοικον ἕδραν, Ol. 5.19). In the same ode the poet celebrates the rapidity with which the buildings of the new city were rising, and the people passing from a state of insignificance to one of wealth and power (ἀπ᾽ ἀμαχανίας ἐς φάος, Ib. 31). The new colony was indeed more fortunate than its predecessors, and the next 50 years were the most flourishing period in the history of Camarina, which retained its independence, and assumed a prominent rank among the Greek cities of Sicily. In their political relations the Camarinaeans appear to have been mainly guided by jealousy of their powerful neighbour Syracuse: hence they were led to separate themselves in great measure from the other Dorian cities of Sicily, and during the war between Syracuse and Leontini, in B.C. 427, they were the only people of Dorian origin who took part with the latter. At the same time there was always a party in the city favourable to the Syracusans, and disposed to join the Dorian alliance, and it was probably the influence of this party that a few years after induced them to conclude a truce with their neighbours at Gela, which eventually led to a general pacification. (Thuc. 3.86, 4.25, 65.) By the treaty finally concluded, Thucydides tells us, it was stipulated that the Camarinaeans should retain possession of the territory of Morgantia (Μοργαντίνη), an arrangement which it is not easy to understand, as the city of that name was situated far away in the interior of Sicily. [MORGANTIA] A few years later the Camarinaeans were still ready to assist the Athenians in supporting the Leontines by arms (Thuc. 5.4); but when the great Athenian expedition appeared in Sicily, they were reasonably alarmed at the ulterior views of that power, and refused to take part with either side, promising to maintain a strict neutrality. It was not till fortune had declared decidedly in favour of the Syracusans that the Camarinaeans sent a small force to their support. (Thuc. 6.75, 88; Diod. 13.4, 12.)

A few years later the great Carthaginian invasion of Sicily gave a fatal blow to the prosperity of Camarina. Its territory was ravaged by Himilco in the spring of B.C. 405, but the city itself was not [p. 1.487]attacked; nevertheless, when Dionysius had failed in averting the fall of Gela, and the inhabitants of that city were compelled to abandon it to its fate, the Camarinaeans were induced or constrained to follow their example; and the whole population, men, women, and children, quitted their homes, and effected their retreat to Syracuse, from whence they afterwards withdrew to Leontini. (Diod. 13.108, 111, 113; Xen. Hell. 2.3. 5) By the treaty concluded soon after between Dionysius and the Carthaginians, the citizens of Camarina, as well as those of Gela and Agrigentum, were allowed to return to their homes, and continue to inhabit their native cities, but as tributaries to Carthage, and prohibited from restoring their fortifications. (Diod. 13.114.) Of this permission it is probable that many availed themselves; and a few years later we find Camarina eagerly furnishing her contingent to support Dionysius in his war with the Carthaginians. (Id. 14.47.) With this exception, we hear nothing of her during the reign of that despot; but there is little doubt that the Camarinaeans were subject to his rule. After the death of the elder Dionysius, however, they readily joined in the enterprise of Dion, and supported him with an auxiliary force in his march upon Syracuse. (Id. 16.9.) After Timoleon had restored the whole of the eastern half of Sicily to its liberty, Camarina was recruited with a fresh body of settlers, and appears to have recovered a certain degree of prosperity. (Id. 16.82, 83.) But it suffered again severely during the wars between Agathocles and the Carthaginians, and was subsequently taken and plundered by the Mamertines. (Id. 19.110, 20.32, 23.1.)

During the First Punic War, Camarina early espoused the Roman cause; and though in B.C. 258 it was betrayed into the hands of the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, it was quickly recovered by the Roman consuls A. Atilius and C. Sulpicius, who, to punish the citizens for their defection, sold a large part of them as slaves. (Diod. 23.9; Plb. 1.24.) A few years later, B.C. 255, the coast near Camarina was the scene of one of the greatest disasters which betel the Romans during the war, in the shipwreck of their whole fleet by a violent tempest; so complete was its destruction, that out of 364 ships only 80 escaped, and the whole coast from Camarina to Cape Pachynum was strewed with fragments of the wrecks. (Plb. 1.37; Diod. 23.18.) This is the last notice of Camarina to be found in history. Under the Roman dominion it seems to have sunk into a very insignificant place, and its name is not once found in the Verrine orations of Cicero. Strabo also speaks of it as one of the cities of Sicily of which in his time little more than the vestiges remained (vi. p. 272); but we learn from Pliny and Ptolemy that it still continued to exist as late as the 2nd century of the Christian era. (Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.15.) From this period all trace of it disappears: it was never rebuilt in the middle ages, and the site is now perfectly desolate, though a watch-tower on the coast still retains the name of Torre di Camarana.

From the remains still extant, it is evident that the city occupied a slight eminence between the two small streams now called the Flume di Camarana and the F. Frascolari. The former, which is much the most considerable of the two, is evidently the HIPPARIS (Ἱππαρις) of Pindar (Pind. O. 5.27), which he describes as flowing past the town, and supplying the inhabitants with water by means of artificial canals or aqueducts. It is a copious stream of clear water, having its principal source in a large fountain at a place called Comisó, supposed by some writers to be the Fons Dianae of Solinus, which he places near Camarina. (Solin. 5.16.) There is, however, another remarkable fountain at a place called Favara, near the town of Santa Croce, which has, perhaps, equal claim to this distinction. (Fazell. 5.1. p. 225; Cluver. Sicil. p. 191; Hoare, Class. Tour, vol. ii. pp. 261--263.) The Frascolari is probably the OANIS (Ὤανις), known to us only from the same passage of Pindar. More celebrated than either of these streams was the Lake of Camarina (called by Pindar, l.c., ἐγχωρίαν λίμνην; Palus Camarina, Claudian), which immediately adjoined the walls of the city on the N. It was a mere marshy pool, formed by the stagnation of the Hipparis near its mouth, and had the effect of rendering the city very unhealthy, on which account we are told that the inhabitants were desirous to drain it, but, having consulted the oracle at Delphi, were recommended to let it alone. They nevertheless executed their project; but by so doing laid open their walls to attack on that side, so that their enemies soon after availed themselves of its weakness, and captured the city. The period to which this transaction is to be referred is unknown, and the whole story very apocryphal; but the answer of the oracle, Μὴ κίνει Καμάριναν: ἀκίνητος γάπ ἀμείνων, passed into a proverbial saying among the Greeks. (Verg. A. 3.700; Serv. ad loc., Suid. s. v. Μὴ κίνει K.; Steph. B. sub voce Καμάρινα; Sil. Ital. 14.198.)

The remains still extant of Camarina are very inconsiderable: they consist of scattered portions of the ancient walls, and the vestiges of a temple, now converted into a church; but the site of the ancient city is distinctly marked, and the remains of its port and other fragments of buildings on the shore were still visible in the 17th century, though now for the most part buried in sand. (Hoare, l.c. p. 260; Fazell. 5.2; Cluver. Sicil. p. 192; Amico, Lex. Topogr. Sicil. vol. i. p. 147.)

The coins of Camarina are numerous: they belong for the most part to the flourishing period of its existence, B.C. 460--405. Some of them have the head of the river-god Hipparis, represented, as usual, with horns on his forehead. Others (as the one annexed) have the head of Hercules, and a quadriga on the reverse, probably in commemoration of some victory in the chariot race at the Olympic games.



hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: