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Mefitis was an ancient Roman goddess.


The etymology of the name Mefitis is controversial but according to the Italian linguist Alberto Manco the system of the epithets that identified the goddess from place to place would prove her relationship with a water-based dimension.[1]

In Roman mythology, Mefitis (or Mephitis; Mefite in Italian) was the late personification of the poisonous gases emitted from the ground in swamps and volcanic vapors. "Mephitic", derived from Mefitis, is now an adjective in the English language meaning "offensive in odour"; "noxious"; and "poisonous."

In Italian, a mefite is also a solfatara or fumarole (i.e., a gaseous fissure) associated with the Roman Goddess Mefitis. The feature giving rise to this term, the Solfatara volcano, is located in Italy along the Via Appia between Rome and Brindisi. There, the ancient Romans would rest on their travels and pay homage to the goddess by performing animal sacrifices using the fissure's deadly gases. Today, it lies near the village of Rocca San Felice in the province of Avellino (Campania region).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alberto Manco, "Mefītis: gli epiteti", AION Linguistica 31/2009, 301-312.