Between heaven and earth: Ercole, Mefite and the water

Once upon a time, not so far from the town, just under the hill, up north, near a stream that flows down from the mountains, there was a place inhabited by the gods. They were benevolent divinity, they cured diseases of men using the abundant water that flowed through their sacred houses.


Two gods used to live there. Right at the foot of the hill, people used to worship a god who came from far away, Herakles. He was born as a man, and as the Greeks used to say, he was a very strong hero, until Hera, the queen of the gods, decided to make him a god.

The elders said, in fact, that his name meant “famous for Hera”. Further down, but still in the same sacred area, there was a female goddess, called Mefite by the local people. Her name meant “she who is in the middle”.


Mefite represented the water between heaven and earth, between the world of the living and the one of the dead. She was the water that poured from the sky and flowed under the earth and then returned, healthy, from the springs to bring life to mankind. In the area that was sacred to the goddess Mefite, a woman was buried with her belongings in a small underground chamber.

Her belongings consisted of gold jewelleries, silver vases, candlesticks and bronze-made vases that were used for banquets, vases for perfumed oils, and the spoon to clean her skin after her gymnastic activities.

Today, none knows her name but it is said that she belonged to a rich and powerful family and she was not only a mother in a family who used to be in the business of wool processing, but also a priestess of the goddess Mefite and she used to participate in ritual of the sacred banquets.


Texts: A. Lagi
Pictures: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Volcei “Marcello Gigante
English translation: Scu association Pro Loco Buccino Volcei