The Winter's Tale

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Camillo Character Analysis

A Sicilian nobleman and close advisor of Leontes. When Leontes suspects Polixenes of sleeping with his wife, he orders Camillo to poison Polixenes. Caught between his loyalty to his king and his knowledge that Polixenes is innocent, Camillo decides to help Polixenes escape Sicilia for Bohemia. Leontes thinks that Camillo is a traitor, but then later realizes that Camillo was actually right all along. After fleeing Sicilia, Camillo serves in Polixenes’ court in Bohemia for sixteen years, before finally returning to Sicilia with Polixenes, who pursues his son there. Having realized his folly, Leontes apologizes to Camillo, and the two reconcile. At the very end of the play, Leontes even suggests that Camillo should marry Paulina.

Camillo Quotes in The Winter's Tale

The The Winter's Tale quotes below are all either spoken by Camillo or refer to Camillo. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Winter's Tale published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it
is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the
subject, makes old hearts fresh: they that went on
crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to
see him a man.

Related Characters: Camillo (speaker), Mamillius
Page Number: 1.1.39-44
Explanation and Analysis:

In this opening scene of the play, Camillo and a courier from Bohemia named Archidamus discuss visiting each other's countries, saying that the King of Sicilia (Leontes) owes the King of Bohemia (Polixenes) a visit. The reason a visit is owed is since Polixenes has stayed in Sicilia for so long. The discussion between Camillo and Archidamus mainly serves as exposition, explaining the situation and setting of the play's beginning. We learn that Leontes and Polixenes are childhood friends.

Here, toward the end of the short scene, they discuss Mamillius, the promising young son of Leontes. Camillo says that there is a lot of hope for the young prince, a "gallant child." The hope they see in the boy invigorates Sicilians, making old people wish to live longer so that they can see him become a man. Immediately, the promise of the young in contrast with the old, and the tension of time and aging is introduced into the play. Here aging is not tragic, but is rather exciting and empowering. The old, who might wish for time to slow down, desire for time to speed up so that they can experience Mamillius' growth into manhood. This wish will be fulfilled in between acts III and IV, when Father Time himself announces that 16 years have passed.

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Ha' not you seen, Camillo, —
But that's past doubt, you have, or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn, —or heard, —
—For to a vision so apparent rumour
Cannot be mute, —or thought, —for cogitation
Resides not in that man that does not think, —
My wife is slippery?

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Polixenes, Hermione, Camillo
Page Number: 1.2.329-335
Explanation and Analysis:

Leontes has sent Polixenes and Hermione off on a walk; he is now utterly convinced of his wife's infidelity, and believes that everyone in court has known all along. Leontes asks Camillio why he thinks Hermione was able to convince Polixenes to stay, trying to draw the truth out of him. When the confused Camillo does not play along, Leontes speaks the excerpted lines, wondering if Camillo really has not seen what is so plain to him.

He asks, "have you not seen, Camillo"—but stops himself since it is so obvious that he must have seen, unless his "eye-glass / Is thicker than a cuckold's horn." (A cuckold is a term for someone whose spouse cheats on them, often described as wearing figurative horns.) If he hasn't seen, Leontes says, he must have at least heard about the infidelity, since rumors must spread from "a vision so apparent." Leontes goes as far as to say that simply thinking about it will yield the truth, and only a man who does not think would disagree with his conclusions. The single vision, grounded in sight, of the pair holding hands has thus spread to the ear and to thought and become evidence that amounts to absolute proof that Hermione is "slippery."

Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences, you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
Is piled upon his faith and will continue
The standing of his body.

Related Characters: Camillo (speaker), Leontes
Page Number: 1.2.511-518
Explanation and Analysis:

Towards the end of this long scene, Camillo is explaining to Polixenes that he has been ordered to murder him because of Leontes' rigid belief that Hermione has been unfaithful. Here, Camillo tells Polixenes just how convinced Lenotes has become. Leontes swears the truth of the infidelity "by each particular star in heaven and / By all their influences." We see that Camillo has caught the gravity of Leontes' powerful "Is this nothing?" speech, since he compares changing Leontes' mind to forbidding the sea to obey the moon. As we saw above, Camillo also notes that this "folly" has become the foundation of Leontes' faith and his very being. In other words, it is hopeless for Polixenes to try and assert his innocence, and so the best option is simply to flee.

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

For Polixenes,
With whom I am accused, I do confess
I loved him as in honour he required,
With such a kind of love as might become
A lady like me, with a love even such,
So and no other, as yourself commanded:
Which not to have done I think had been in me
Both disobedience and ingratitude
To you and toward your friend, whose love had spoke,
Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely
That it was yours. Now, for conspiracy,
I know not how it tastes; though it be dish'd
For me to try how: all I know of it
Is that Camillo was an honest man;
And why he left your court, the gods themselves,
Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.

Related Characters: Hermione (speaker), Leontes, Polixenes, Camillo
Page Number: 3.2.65-81
Explanation and Analysis:

Hermione has made her first speech of the trail, but Leontes still does not believe her. Here, Hermione gives another speech in which she attempts to differentiate romantic and platonic love. She says that she loved Polixenes "as in honour he required, / With such a kind of love as might become / a lady like" her. In other words, she loved Polixenes as a friend, as a king deserves to be loved, and furthermore as Leontes, a dear friend to Polixenes, commanded her to.

Hermione goes on to say that if she hadn't loved Polixenes in this way, it would have been actual disobedience and ingratitude, opposing the nonsensical, jealously-based infidelity she is accused of. Hermione has no idea why Camillo left court or what is going on; she maintains that she truly is innocent.

Her claim here that her friendship was non-romantic and ordered by her husband is both clever and unique. By framing the love as a duty to her husband, she masterfully reverses the accusation and seems to act as a faithful wife should. If Leontes were not so possessed by jealousy, it is possible that her argument would have worked. But its uniqueness is also a reason it might seem unbelievable. Her notion of a non-romantic friendship between man and woman would have been uncommon, perhaps even revolutionary during the Renaissance.

O, think what they have done
And then run mad indeed, stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray'dst Polixenes,'twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful: nor was't much,
Thou wouldst have poison'd good Camillo's honour,
To have him kill a king: poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter
To be or none or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire ere done't:
Nor is't directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince, whose honourable thoughts,
Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemish'd his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer: but the last, —O lords,
When I have said, cry 'woe!' the queen, the queen,
The sweet'st, dear'st creature's dead,
and vengeance for't
Not dropp'd down yet.

Related Characters: Paulina (speaker), Leontes, Polixenes, Hermione, Camillo, Mamillius, Perdita
Page Number: 3.2.201-222
Explanation and Analysis:

In this stunning speech, Paulina chastises the King at length for his folly and the damage it has wrought. The "they" she refers to in the first quoted line are Leontes' jealous and tyrannical actions, which have caused terrible things to happen, all of which she will outline below.

Leontes betrayed his dear friend Polixenes over "nothing" (note the irony of this term returning after Leontes' earlier speech involving nothing). Leontes would have poisoned Camillo's honor, since he ordered him to commit regicide (kill a king). He cast off his daughter, a cruelty Paulina says surpasses even a devil, and caused the death of his tender son. But the climactic speech ends with a crushing final blow: Hermione too is now dead.

Paulina's fury is a staggering display of emotion and power over the king. This reversal of the natural order shows two traditional dichotomies flipped: subject over king and woman over man. What's more, a few lines later Leontes will say "Go on. Go on. / Thou canst not speak too much." He gives her leave, embracing his anguish and believing himself deserving of bitterness from all tongues.

Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,
Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,
So many summers dry; scarce any joy
Did ever so long live; no sorrow
But kill'd itself much sooner.

Related Characters: Camillo (speaker), Leontes
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 5.3.57-62
Explanation and Analysis:

The statue is so lifelike (or maybe is just Hermione herself) that Leontes becomes overwhelmed with regret and sorrow and begins weeping. Camillo, along with Polixenes, tries to calm him down and assure him that he has grieved enough and showed enough sorrow for his loss. Connecting back to the seasons, Camillo says that Leontes' sorrow was more than adequate, and that sixteen winters could not disrupt it, nor could the summers dry it. He asserts that no joy or sorrow has ever lasted as long as this grief.

The juxtaposition in these lines of summer and winter, grief and joy, reminds us of some of the lingering tragic elements in the comedic second half of the play, and ground the Winter's Tale firmly as a "problem play." Though the second act is comedic and set during a summer, we know that winters have passed and will also follow. There is much joy in the ending of the play, but Mamillius and Antigonus both remain dead.

O, peace, Paulina!
Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,
As I by thine a wife: this is a match,
And made between's by vows. Thou hast found mine;
But how, is to be question'd; for I saw her,
As I thought, dead, and have in vain said many
A prayer upon her grave. I'll not seek far—
For him, I partly know his mind —to find thee
An honourable husband. Come, Camillo
And take her by the hand, whose worth and honesty
Is richly noted and here justified
By us, a pair of kings.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Hermione, Paulina, Camillo
Page Number: 5.3.170-182
Explanation and Analysis:

These are almost the last lines of the play. Paulina has made her dark reflection on her loss and consigned to lose herself in sorrow, but Leontes' joy at reuniting with his daughter and wife (despite his son still being dead) is enough to give a final push towards happiness and comedy. As king, he grants Paulina his permission to take a new husband, saying he wants to repay her for finding his wife again. He doesn't need to look far to find her a husband, suggesting she wed Camillo, "an honorable husband" whose "worth and honesty is richly noted" by the pair of kings, Polixenes and Leontes.

The play concludes with Leontes asking for forgiveness, and with the union of Polixenes' and Leontes' bloodlines through the marriage of Florizell and Perdita. The natural order is restored and even augmented by this new marriage. The friendships are repaired, and honesty is reaffirmed. Despite its strange, problematic beginning and some of its absurdities, the play ends on a classically light, comedic note.

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Camillo Character Timeline in The Winter's Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Camillo appears in The Winter's Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
...Bohemia visiting Sicilia along with his king Polixenes. He speaks to a Sicilian nobleman named Camillo about how hospitable the Sicilians have been to him. Camillo tells him that the king... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Camillo says that Polixenes and Leontes have been close friends since childhood, and Archidamus agrees that... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...there are many men who don’t realize that their wives are unfaithful. He calls for Camillo, and sends Mamillius away. (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes thinks that everyone in his court knows about his wife’s infidelity, and asks Camillo if he saw how Polixenes was only persuaded to stay by Hermione. He asks Camillo... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...foot,” and “skulking in corners.” He sees all this as definitive proof of their affair. Camillo still doesn’t believe it, and tells Leontes to “be cured / Of this diseased opinion.”... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Leontes asks Camillo to poison Polixenes. Camillo says he is willing to do this, but still refuses to... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Leontes leaves, and Camillo examines his difficult position: if he is to obey his king, he “must be the... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Camillo says that there is a “sickness” that has originated in Polixenes himself. Polixenes is confused,... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Camillo says that there is no oath Polixenes can make that will convince Leontes that he... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Polixenes says he believes Camillo, because he saw Leontes’ contempt for him in his expression. He says that because Hermione... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes is looking for Camillo and Polixenes, but one of his lords informs him that the two have both fled... (full context)
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...worries of Antigonus and the other nobleman, and remains sure of Hermione’s infidelity. He sees Camillo’s flight from Sicilia as more proof of the affair. He says that he has sent... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Leontes thinks that Camillo and Polixenes are probably laughing at him from afar, but he tells himself not to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...reads out her indictment, which accuses her of committing adultery, as well as conspiring with Camillo in “high treason,” against Leontes. (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...become / A lady like me,” but not in a romantic way. She says that Camillo was an honest man and she doesn’t know why he left Sicilia. Leontes accuses Hermione... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...officer reads the oracle out loud, which says that Hermione is chaste, Polixenes is innocent, Camillo is “a true subject,” and Leontes is “a jealous tyrant.” It also says that Leontes... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...and admits that he has been wrong. He pledges to “new woo” Hermione and recall Camillo to Sicilia. He admits that he has been jealous and wrong, and that Camillo is... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
At Polixenes’ palace in Bohemia, Camillo begs Polixenes to let him return to his homeland of Sicilia, since Leontes is “penitent”... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Polixenes asks Camillo if he has seen Florizell recently, who has recently been spending much of his time... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...found Perdita when she was a baby, and his son) enter, along with Polixenes and Camillo in disguises. The shepherd tells Perdita to fulfill her duties as “mistress o’ the feast”... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...and dancing. Continuing to flirt with her, he asks her to dance. Polixenes mentions to Camillo that Perdita seems noble in her behavior, as if she were more than just a... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...with him. The shepherd is upset and angry at Perdita for mingling with the prince. Camillo tells Florizell to beware of Polixenes’ temper and not to appear before him “till the... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Camillo talks to himself and realizes that he may be able to use Florizell’s fleeing Bohemia... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Camillo tells Florizell to tell Leontes that he comes from Bohemia as a representative of his... (full context)
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Camillo promises to write letters of introduction for Florizell to Leontes. Then, he sees Autolycus and... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Perdita, Camillo, and Florizell leave. Alone, Autolycus says that he understands what is going on, but will... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...Polixenes is in Sicilia, chasing after his son who has fled with a shepherd’s daughter. Camillo is with him, and on their way to the king’s court, they have found Perdita’s... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...gentleman says that the shepherd showed the bundle in which he found Perdita, and that Camillo and Leontes reacted with an extreme display of emotion, and he could not tell whether... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Leontes, Polixenes, Florizell, Perdita, Camillo, and Paulina all go together to see the statue of Hermione, which is at Paulina’s... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Camillo and Polixenes try to calm Leontes down, and tell him that he has showed enough... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...sad, and says that she should take a new husband. He suggests that she wed Camillo, who he says has proved his “worth and honesty.” Leontes begs pardon from both Hermione... (full context)