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Phoenix

Description The size of an eagle, with gold plumage around the neck, a purple body, and an azure tail.  The throat has a crest, and the head has a tuft of feathers. (according to Pliny)

 

Features The main feature of the phoenix is that it is reborn through fire: when it gets old it will make a nest (sometimes of myrrh) and set it on fire. The phoenix will be consumed in the flames, but will be reborn out of the ashes.  There is only one Phoenix at a time; it lives for many years (accounts vary from 500, 540, 1000 or 1460 years.) No person has ever seen this bird eat.  This legend was very common among the Egyptians, the Greek, oriental cultures, and during medieval times.

 

Symbolizes Might represent the sun, which dies every night and is reborn the next morning. Among classical writers, it may represent those existing in paradise, enjoying eternal youth. Among Christians, it can represent rebirth after death.

 

Also called

Fung  or Feng-Huang- (Chinese version) In this version, the bird is sent to earth to perform extraordinary works and to help the development of man. It appears in different stages of the world's progress, and then returns to heaven.

Cinomolgus- An Arabian bird that built its nests out of cinnamon in high treetops. People would try to throw rocks or shoot arrows to dislodge the nest to get the cinnamon.

 

Described By:  Ovid, Pliny

 Herodotus- "They have also another sacred bird called the phoenix which I myself have never seen, except in pictures. Indeed it is a great rarity, even in Egypt, only coming there (according to the accounts of the people of Heliopolis) once in five hundred years, when the old phoenix dies. Its size and appearance, if it is like the pictures, are as follow:- The plumage is partly red, partly golden, while the general make and size are almost exactly that of the eagle. They tell a story of what this bird does, which does not seem to me to be credible: that he comes all the way from Arabia, and brings the parent bird, all plastered over with myrrh, to the temple of the Sun, and there buries the body. In order to bring him, they say, he first forms a ball of myrrh as big as he finds that he can carry; then he hollows out the ball, and puts his parent inside, after which he covers over the opening with fresh myrrh, and the ball is then of exactly the same weight as at first; so he brings it to Egypt, plastered over as I have said, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun. Such is the story they tell of the doings of this bird."  (History of Herodotus)

 Tacitus- "During the consulship of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellius, the bird called the phoenix, after a long succession of ages, appeared in Egypt and furnished the most learned men of that country and of Greece with abundant matter for the discussion of the marvelous phenomenon. It is my wish to make known all on which they agree with several things, questionable enough indeed, but not too absurd to be noticed. That it is a creature sacred to the sun, differing from all other birds in its beak and in the tints of its plumage, is held unanimously by those who have described its nature. As to the number of years it lives, there are various accounts. The general tradition says five hundred years. Some maintain that it is seen at intervals of fourteen hundred and sixty-one years, and that the former birds flew into the city called Heliopolis successively in the reigns of Sesostris, Amasis, and Ptolemy, the third king of the Macedonian dynasty, with a multitude of companion birds marvelling at the novelty of the appearance. But all antiquity is of course obscure. From Ptolemy to Tiberius was a period of less than five hundred years."

 Mandeville- "In Egypt is the city of Heliopolis, that is to say, the city of the Sun. In that city there is a temple, made round after the shape of the Temple of Jerusalem. The priests of that temple have all their writings, under the date of the fowl that is clept phoenix; and there is none but one in all the world. And he cometh to burn himself upon the altar of that temple at the end of five hundred year; for so long he liveth. And at the five hundred years' end, the priests array their altar honestly, and put thereupon spices and sulphur and other things that will burn lightly; and then the bird phoenix cometh and burneth himself to ashes. And the first day next after, men find in the ashes a worm; and the second day next after, men find a bird quick and perfect; and the third day next after, he flieth his way. And so there is no more birds of that kind in all the world, but it alone, and truly that is a great miracle of God. And men may well liken that bird unto God, because that there is no God but one; and also, that our Lord arose from death to life the third day. This bird men see often- time fly in those countries; and he is not mickle more than an eagle. And he hath a crest of feathers upon his head more great than the peacock hath; and is neck his yellow after color of an oriel that is a stone well shining, and his beak is colored blue as ind; and his wings be of purple color, and his tail is barred overthwart with green and yellow and red. And he is a full fair bird to look upon, against the sun, for he shineth full gloriously and nobly."

 

Related to The Avalerionthere is only ever one pair of these birds.  Every 60 years they produce 2 eggs, and when the eggs hatch the parents drown themselves. They are found in India.

 

   

 

 

 

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