Cults Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily


Camarina was the nymph linked to the swamp that surrounded, starting from the east, the ancient city of Camarina, founded in Syracuse in 589 BC. After a series of explorations by Paolo Orsi, excavations resumed in 1958 and brought to light numerous remains of the ancient city.

The cult of the nymph Camarina would be testified by the discovery of some coins in which she is represented[1]. One of the coins depicts a nymph riding a swan sailing on the swamp and which has been attributed to the nymph Camarina. In the past, there was also talk of the discovery of a sanctuary dedicated to her, but at present this discovery is only hypothetical.

About what was called "Lacus Camarinensis“, Also quoted by Virgil[2], it is said that, during a period of great drought, the plague struck the city. The inhabitants in the belief that it was the swamp to favor the calamity, consulted the Oracle of Apollo asking if the solution was to drain it. The oracle replied no, but regardless of the answer, the inhabitants still carried out the drainage work. Indeed, the plague ended but, shortly after, the invasion of the enemy, facilitated by the absence of the ancient natural barrier, made the inhabitants bitterly repent of not having accepted the advice of the oracle. Probably the nymph did not appreciate that the swamp dedicated to her had been drained.


[1] Ciaceri Emanuele: Cults and Myths of Ancient Sicily p.249

[2]Aeneid lib III.


Cults Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily by Ignazio Caloggero



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