The phoenix, also known as φοῖνιξ or phoînix in Ancient Greek and phoenix, phœnix, or fenix in Latin, is a bird from Greek mythology and the Talmud that busts into flames at the end of it’s long life. Some say the phoenix is born by rising from the ashes of it’s preceder, while others are convinced that the bird dies and decomposes before being reborn. Some texts claim the a phoenix can live to be 1,400 years of age before being reborn. The phoenix is associated with the sun.
In Ancient Egypt, there was a bird called the bennu which may be the origin of the phoenix, however, it may have been the other way around. The bennu is said to be a self-created being which played a part in the creation of the world and, like the phoenix, is associated with the sun. Herodotus, in the 5th century BC writes: "[The Egyptians] 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."
There have been differing claims on the colouration of the phoenix. Though Herodotus’s description of it being red and yellow is popular, Some say it has peacock-like colouring. Ezekiel the Dramatist declared that the phoenix had red legs and striking yellow eyes, but Lactantius said that its eyes were blue like sapphires and that its legs were covered in scales of yellow-gold with rose-colored talons.
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"Oh unhappy people, the wind is rising"
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