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The phoenix from the Aberdeen Bestiary.
The phoenix (Ancient Greek: Φοῖνιξ, phoínix, Persian:سیمرغ Arabic:العنقاء) is a mythical sacred firebird that originated in Persian mythology, ancient Phoenician mythology (according to Sanchuniathon), Chinese mythology, Egyptian religion and later Greek mythology.

Contents

Appearance and abilities

A phoenix is a mythical bird that is a fire spirit with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1,000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (Greek for sun-city). It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song. In very few stories they are able to change into humans.
The Roman poet Ovid wrote the following about the phoenix:
Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulchre), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.[1]
French author Voltaire thus described the phoenix:
It was of the size of an eagle, but its eyes were as mild and tender as those of the eagle are fierce and threatening. Its beak was the colour of a rose, and seemed to resemble, in some measure, the beautiful mouth of Formosante. Its neck resembled all the colours of the rainbow, but more brilliant and lively. A thousand shades of gold glistened on its plumage. Its feet seemed a mixture of purple and silver; and the tail of those beautiful birds which were afterwards fixed to the car of Juno, did not come near the beauty of its tail.[2]

History

The simurgh or simorgh (Phoenix) originates in Persian mythology (Parthian Empire ca. 247 B.C.). The figure of the phoenix has gone through a variety of representations in art/literature, ranging from being fully birdlike to having the head of a dog and suckling its young. Typically, it is considered benevolent, but some tales suggest that humans are not always safe around the simurgh. Further, many tales share many elements with those of the phoenix.
Flavius Philostratus (c. AD 170), who wrote the biography Life of Apollonius of Tyana, refers to the phoenix as a bird living in India, but sometimes migrating to Egypt every five hundred years. His account is clearly inspired by Garuda, the bird of the Hindu god Vishnu. He considered the bird as an emanation of sunlight, being in appearance and size much like an eagle. His contemporary Lactantius is probably the author who wrote the longest poem on the famous bird. Although descriptions (and life-span) vary, the Egyptian phoenix (Bennu bird) became popular in early Catholic art, literature and Catholic symbolism, as a symbol of Christ representing his resurrection, immortality, and life-after-death. One of the Early Catholic Church Fathers, Clement, related the following regarding the Phoenix in chapter 25 of The First Epistle of Clement:
Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed.
The phoenix on top of Kinkaku-ji temple, Kyoto, Japan
Michael W. Holmes points out that early Christian writers justified their use of this myth because the word appears in Psalm 92:12 [LXX Psalm 91:13], but in that passage it actually refers to a palm tree, not a mythological bird.[3] However, it was the flourishing of Christian Hebraist interpretations of Job 29:18 that brought the Joban phoenix to life for Christian readers of the seventeenth century. At the heart of these interpretations is the proliferation of richly complementary meanings that turn upon three translations of the word chol (חול) — as phoenix, palm tree, or sand — in Job 29:18.[4]
In a critical edition of I Clement, Lake noted that "the same story, with variations, is found in Herodotus (ii. 73), Pliny (Nat. Hist. x.2), etc."[5]
Originally, the phoenix was identified by the Egyptians as a stork or heron-like bird called a benu, known from the Book of the Dead and other Egyptian texts as one of the sacred symbols of worship at Heliopolis, closely associated with the rising sun and the Egyptian sun-god Ra.
The Greeks identified it with their own word phoenix φοίνιξ, meaning the color purple-red or crimson (cf. Phoenicia). They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle. According to the Greeks the phoenix lived in Phoenicia next to a well. At dawn, it bathed in the water of the well, and the Greek sun-god Helios stopped his chariot (the sun) in order to listen to its song. Featured in the painting Heracles Strangles Snakes (House of the Vettii, Pompeii Italy) as Zeus, the king of the gods.
One inspiration that has been suggested for the Egyptian phoenix is the flamingo of East Africa[citation needed]. This bright pink or white bird nests on salt flats that are too hot for its eggs or chicks to survive; it builds a mound several inches tall and large enough to support its egg, which it lays in that marginally cooler location. The convection currents around these mounds resembles the turbulence of a flame. In zoology, flamingos are part of the family Phoenicopteridae, from the generic name Phoenicopterus or "phoenix-winged."

Related usage

Phoenix on the portal of Nadir Divan-Beghi madrasah, Bukhara, Uzbekistan (part of Lyab-i Hauz complex)
In Persian mythology, Simurgh, (Persian: سيمرغ, Middle Persian: senmurv) was a winged, bird-like creature that was very large and extremely ancient. The Simurgh appears in many Iranian literary classics such as Farid ud-Din Attar's Conference of the Birds as instructor and birds leader, and in Ferdowsi's epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings); Simurgh raised up and cherished Zaal or Zal, father of Rostam.
The Fenghuang (Chinese Phoenix) at the Summer Palace, Beijing, China.
The phoenix is the central figure in Lebanese ancient and modern cultures, as Lebanese are descendants of the Phoenicians and often claim themselves sons of the Phoenix. Lebanon, and Beirut particularly, is often depicted symbolically as a phoenix bird having been destroyed and rebuilt 7 times during its long history.
In China, the Fenghuang (鳳凰) is a mythical bird superficially similar to the phoenix. It is the second most-respected legendary creature (second to the dragon), largely used to represent the empress and females, and as such as the counterpart to the Chinese dragon, traditionally seen as masculine or imperial. The phoenix is considered the greatest and the leader of birds.
In Japan, the phoenix is called hō-ō (kanji: 鳳凰) or fushichō (不死鳥?), literally "Immortal Bird".
In Russian folklore, the phoenix appears as the Zhar-Ptitsa (Жар-Птица), or firebird, subject of the famous 1910 ballet score by Igor Stravinsky. The phoenix was featured in the flags of Alexander Ypsilantis and of many other captains during the Greek Revolution, symbolizing Greece's rebirth, and was chosen by John Capodistria (1828-1832). In addition, the first modern Greek currency bore the name of phoenix. Despite being replaced by a royal Coat of Arms, it remained a popular symbol, and was used again in the 1930s by the Second Hellenic Republic. However, its use by the military junta of 1967-1974 made it extremely unpopular, and it has almost disappeared from use after 1974, with the notable exception of the Greek Order of the Phoenix.
The constellation Phoenix, was introduced in the late 16th century by sailors organized by Petrus Plancius, probably one of Keyser or de Houtman and displayed on a globe from 1597 created by Hondius.

See also

The Phoenix represented in the 60 years of peace coin.

References

  1. ^ Thomas Bulfinch, Age of Fable: Vols. I & II: Stories of Gods and Heroes. 1913
  2. ^ The Princess of Babylon, in The Works of M. de Voltaire, vol XXXVI (vol. XXVI of the prose works), London, MDCCLXIX, pp. 14-15.
  3. ^ (Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek texts and English translations, page 59.)
  4. ^ EMLS 11.2 (September, 2005): 5.1-15] Milton's Joban Phoenix in Samson Agonistes
  5. ^ Lake, Kirsopp. The Apostolic Fathers, vol. I. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1912, p. 53
  6. ^ Canadian Heritage (2009). "Games of la Francophonie" (informational). Canadian heritage. http://www.pch.gc.ca/special/francophonie/rslts_img/index-eng.cfm. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  7. ^ Organisation internationale de la francophonie. "Les Jeux , La mascotte - Jeux de la Francophonie". Jeux2009. http://www.jeux2009.org/Jeux-mascotte. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  • Umberto Capotummino" L'Occhio della Fenice", Palermo, Sekhem, 2005. ISNN 88-902054-0-7
  • R. Van den Broek, The Myth of the Phoenix - According to Classical and Early Christian Traditions, E.J.Brill, Leiden, 1972.
  • Silvia Fabrizio-Costa (ed.), La Fenice : mito e segno (simposio dell’università di Caen), Peter Lang, Bern, 2001. ISBN 3-906767-89-2
  • Françoise Lecocq, « Les sources égyptiennes du mythe du phénix », L’Egypte à Rome (simposio dell’università di Caen), éd. F. Lecocq, Cahiers de la Maison de la Recherche en Sciences Humaines, n° 41, Caen, 2005. ISSN 1250-6419, reed. 2008 (p. 211-266).
  • Francesco Zambon, Alessandro Grossato, Il mito della fenice in Oriente e in Occidente, Venezia, Marsilio Editori, 2004. ISBN 88-317-8614-8
  • Françoise Lecocq, « L’iconographie du phénix à Rome », Images de l’animal dans l’Antiquité. Des figures de l’animal au bestiaire figuré, to be published at Presses universitaires de Caen; preprint on line: Université de Caen Basse-Normandie, p. 73-106. (French)
  • Françoise Lecocq, « L’œuf du phénix. Myrrhe, encens et cannelle dans le mythe du phénix », L’animal et le savoir, de l’Antiquité à la Renaissance, to be published at Presses univ. de Caen ; preprint on line : Université de Caen Basse-Normandie, p. 107-130. (French)

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Phoenix article)

From Wikiquote

The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise. ~ Miguel de Cervantes
The phoenix (Ancient Greek: Φοῖνιξ, phoínix) is a mythical sacred firebird which dies in flames and is reborn from the ashes. These quotes refer to the mythical phoenix.

Sourced

Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix. ~ Christina Baldwin
Ask me no more if east or west
The Phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies. ~ Thomas Carew
That proud look as though she had gazed into the burning sun,
And all the shapely body no tittle gone astray.
I mourn for that most lonely thing; and yet God's will be done:
I knew a phoenix in my youth, so let them have their day. ~ W. B. Yeats
  • Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.
  • First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
    The scourge of England and the boast of France!
    Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,
    Behold her statue plac'd in glory's niche;
    Her fetters burst, and just releas'd from prison,
    A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen.
    • Lord Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809)
  • When fame's loud trump hath blown its noblest blast,
    Though long the sound, the echo sleeps at last;
    And glory, like the phoenix midst her fires,
    Exhales her odours, blazes, and expires.
    • Lord Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809)
  • Ask me no more if east or west
    The Phoenix builds her spicy nest;
    For unto you at last she flies,
    And in your fragrant bosom dies.
  • The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune's spite; revive from ashes and rise.
    • Miguel de Cervantes, as quoted in The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts & Strange Stories (2008) by Varla Ventura, p. 46
  • There is another holy bird, called the Phoenix, which I have never seen but in pictures. He rarely appears in Egypt — only once in every 500 years, so they say, in Heliopolis — and he is supposed to come when his father dies. If the painter describes him truly, his plumage is part golden and part red, and he is very like an eagle in shape and size. They say that this bird comes from Arabia, bringing the body of his father embalmed in myrrh to the temple of the sun, and there he buries him. First he molds an egg of myrrh; then he puts his father in the middle of it. Lastly, he covers up the body with myrrh. This is what they say this bird does. But I do not believe them.
  • A chattering crow lives out nine generations of aged men,
    but a stag's life is four time a crow's,
    and a raven's life makes three stags old,
    while the phoenix outlives nine ravens,
    but we, the rich-haired Nymphs
    daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder,
    outlive ten phoenixes.
    • Hesiod, in The Precepts of Chiron
  • Do not expect again a phoenix hour,
    The triple-towered sky, the dove complaining,
    Sudden the rain of gold and heart's first ease
    Traced under trees by the eldritch light of sundown.
  • Hurry! We burn
    For Rome’s so near us, for the phoenix moment
    When we have thrown off this traveller’s trance
    And mother-naked and ageless-ancient
    Wake in her warm nest of renaissance.
  • My mom was a phoenix who always expected to rise again from the ashes of her latest disaster. And in spite of her self-doubts, she had a very strong sense of who she was. She had a sense of self-worth. She loved being Judy Garland. Did she secretly long to be Frances Gumm Somebody, Minnesota housewife? Are you kidding? She'd have run off with a vaudeville troupe just the way my grandfather did.
    • Lorna Luft, in Me and My Shadows : A Family Memoir (1999), p. 222
    • Also paraphrased as: "My mother was a phoenix who always expected to rise from the ashes of her latest disaster. She loved being Judy Garland."
  • Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live a life as long as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gathered sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent’s sepulcher), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun.
  • There'll be that crowd, that barbarous crowd, through all the centuries,
    And who can say but some young belle may walk and talk men wild
    Who is my beauty's equal, though that my heart denies,
    But not the exact likeness, the simplicity of a child,
    And that proud look as though she had gazed into the burning sun,
    And all the shapely body no tittle gone astray.
    I mourn for that most lonely thing; and yet God's will be done:
    I knew a phoenix in my youth, so let them have their day.

External links

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Simple English

This article is about the bird Phoenix. For other things that the word "Phoenix" means, go to Phoenix (disambiguation).'

The phoenix is a legendary bird that lives for several hundred years before it burns itself up. However, it starts a new life from the ashes of the fire.

Several modern authors have added their own mythology to it, for example in the Lord of The Rings series J.R.R. Tolkien suggests that phoenix tears can heal wounds, Terry Pratchett mentions that the presence of a phoenix forces people to tell the truth and Neil Gaiman wrote a short story about people eating the flesh of the phoenix to gain immortality.

The Phoenix is often referred to as a fire bird and burns itself in fire every 500-600 years. It burns itself to create a new fire bird, ready for another long life.



Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 21, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Phoenix (mythology), which are similar to those in the above article.








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