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The poisoning of Camma and Synorix in the temple of Diana (Charles Poerson, 17th century).

Camma was a Galatian princess and priestess of Artemis whom Plutarch writes about in both On the Bravery of Women and the Eroticus or Amatorius.[1] As Plutarch is our only source on Camma, her historicity cannot be independently verified.[2][3] In both works, Plutarch cites her as an exemplar of fidelity and courage in love.[2]

In Plutarch's accounts, Camma was wedded to the tetrarch Sinatus, and became known and admired for her virtue and beauty.[4][5] Sinatus' rival, another tetrarch named Sinorix, murdered Sinatus and proceeded to woo Camma herself. Rather than submit to Sinorix' advances, Camma took him to a temple of Artemis where she served poison to both herself and him in a libation of either milk and honey[4] or mead.[5] Camma died happily, according to Plutarch, in the knowledge that she had avenged the death of her husband.[4][5]

Plutarch's story of Camma inspired a number of works of later art and literature. Polyaenus briefly reprises Plutarch's tale in his 2nd-century CE Stratagems of War.[6] In the Renaissance, the story of Camma enjoyed considerable popularity, inspiring De re uxoria by Barbaro,[7] De institutione feminae christianae by Vives,[7] the Libro del cortegiano by Castiglione,[7] and Orlando furioso by Ariosto (where Camma is renamed Drusilla).[7] Thomas Corneille wrote a play named Camma (1661) about the story of the Galatian princess. The opera Nephté (1789) by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne uses the story of Camma but moves the setting to Ancient Egypt. Tennyson subsequently wrote the tragedy The Cup (1884), in which Camma is again a Galatian princess. The poem ‘Camma’ by Oscar Wilde has been seen as a hedonistic commentary on Plutarch's Camma.[8]


  1. ^ Gilabert i Barberà (2000), p. 1.
  2. ^ a b Gilabert i Barberà (2000), p. 2.
  3. ^ Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville is cited by Sandra Péré-Noguès (2013) as declaring that the Greeks had invented such stories, though she is not so dismissive.
  4. ^ a b c Plutarch. De Mulierum Virtutibus 20, in the Moralia. English translation published online by Bill Thayer.
  5. ^ a b c Gilabert i Barberà (2000), pp. 2-3: text and translation of the passage from the Amatorius.
  6. ^ Polyaenus, Stratagems VIII.39.1
  7. ^ a b c d Bartera (2011), p. 140.
  8. ^ Gilabert i Barberà (2000), p. 4.