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Stefanus
7th November 2010, 22:16
Phoenix (mythology)

This article is about the mythological bird.



The phoenix depicted in the Aberdeen
Bestiary (ca. 12thC).The phoenix (Ancient Greek: Φοῖνιξ, phoínix, Persian: ققنوس, Arabic: العنقاء) is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, and (according to Sanchuniathon) Phoenicians.

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 1000 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 (literally "sun-city" in Greek). It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song. The Phoenix's ability to be reborn from its own ashes imply that it is immortal, though in some stories the new Phoenix is merely the offspring of the older one. In very few stories they are able to change into people.

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.


Phoenix depicted in the book of mythological
creatures by F.J. Bertuch (1747-1822).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 color of a rose, and seemed to resemble, in some measure, the beautiful mouth of Formosante. Its neck resembled all the colors 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.

The phoenix originated in ancient mythology and 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 it. Further, many tales share elements with those of the phoenix.


The phoenix on top of Kinkaku-ji temple,
Kyoto, JapanFlavius 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.


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. 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.

In critical editions of English translations of I Clement, it is also noted that the story of the phoenix, with variations, is also found in Herodotus (ii. 73), Pliny (Nat. Hist. x.2), and used as above by Tertullian (De Resurrectione Carnis, §13) and other Church Fathers.


The elagabal, the sacred 'meteoric' stone
of Emperor Elagabalus being drawn in a chariot.
The stone is embossed with an image of the phoenix.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 subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle and identified it with their own word phoenix (Φοίνιξ), meaning the color purple-red or crimson (cf. Phoenicia) or a palm tree. According to the Greek mythology 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. Herodotus spoke about the unique capabity of the bird to be consumed in the flames and be reborn from the ashes.

One inspiration that has been suggested for the Egyptian phoenix is the flamingo of East Africa. 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."

The Phoenix has long been presented as a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and renewal.

Stefanus
7th November 2010, 22:33
Appocryphal literature:

The Phoenix is mentioned in 3 Baruch 6:13

"Its food is the manna of heaven and the dew of the earth, and from its excrement the cinnamon tree grows. In Genesis Rabbah 19:5 the Phoenix, after a 1000 years, "its body is consumed, its wings molt and it renews itself."

Hebrew

In Jewish legend, the phoenix's name is Milcham. According to tradition, after Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she became jealous of the immortality and purity of the other creatures in the garden. Eventually, she persuaded all the animals except the phoenix to share in her fallen state by eating from the forbidden tree. God rewarded the phoenix by setting him up in a walled city where he could live in great peace for 1000 years. At the end of every 1000-year period, the bird is consumed by fire and reborn from an egg found in its ashes. One variation of this Jewish legend states that at the end of each 1000-year period, the phoenix's body becomes small and featherless like a baby's and then he grows up all over again. In any case, the Angel of Death may never touch him.

Greece

The Greeks adapted the word bennu (and also took over its further Egyptian meaning of date palm tree), and identified it with their own word phoenix, meaning the colour purple-red or crimson (cf. Phoenicia). They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle.

Greek mythology places the phoenix in Arabia, where it lives close to a cool well. Every morning at dawn it bathes in the water and sings a beautiful song. So beautiful is the song that the sun god would stop his chariot to listen. There only exists one phoenix at a time. When the phoenix feel sits death approaching (every 500 or 1461 years) it builds a nest, sets it on fire, and is consumed by the flames. A new phoenix springs forth from the pyre. It then embalms the ashes of its predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flies with it to the City of the Sun. There the egg is deposited on the altar of the sun god.


Rome

Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix as follows: "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 odours. 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."


Russia

In Russian folklore, the phoenix appears as the Zhar-Ptitsa (Жар-Птица), or firebird.


North America

In the legends of native North Americans, the thunderbird is a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. Lightning flashes from its beak, and the beating of its wings is creates the thunder. It is often portrayed with an extra head on its abdomen. Lesser bird spirits, frequently in the form of eagles or falcons, often accompanies the majestic thunderbird. The thunderbird petroglyph symbol has been found across Canada and the United States. Evidence of similar figures has been found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Wherever it is found, the phoenix is associated with resurrection, immortality, triumph over adversity, and that which rises out of the ashes. Thus it became a favorite symbol of Christ. on early Christian tombstones. In chapters 25-26 of his letter to the Corinthians, St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, upheld the legendary phoenix as an evidence of Christ's ability to accomplish the resurrection of the faithful. He quotes Job as saying, "Thou shalt raise up this flesh of mine, which has suffered all these things."

Often, as an emblem of Christ, it was found with the palm tree (another symbol of resurrection) or carrying a palm branch (a symbol of triumph over death), or carrying an olive branch (a symbol of God's peace offered to humans).

The Phoenix is symbolic of rebirth, hope, purity, chastity, marriage, faith, constancy, summer, eternity, immortality, and light. It is an image of the cosmic fire some believe the world began and will end in. The Taoists called it the "cinnabar bird." Romans placed the phoenix on coins and medals as an emblem of their desire for the Roman Empire to last forever.

80

Story

There is a bird that lays no eggs and has no young. It was here when the world began and is still living today, in a hidden, faraway desert spot. It is the phoenix, the bird of fire.

One day in the beginning times, the sun looked down and saw a large bird with shimmering feathers. They were red and gold -bright and dazzling like the sun itself. The sun called out, "Glorious Phoenix, you shall be my bird and live forever!"

Live forever! The Phoenix was overjoyed to hear these words. It lifted its head and sang, "Sun glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone!"

But the Phoenix was not happy for long. Poor bird. Its feathers were far too beautiful. Men, women, and children were always casing it and trying to trap it. They wanted to have some of those beautiful, shiny feathers for themselves.

"I cannot live here," thought the phoenix. and it flew off toward the east, where the sun rises in the morning.

The Phoenix flew for a long time, and then came to a far away, hidden desert where no humans lived. And there the phoenix remained in peace, flying freely and singing its songs of praise to the sun above.

Almost five hundred years passed. The Phoenix was still alive, but it had grown old. It was often tired, and it had lost much of its strength. It couldn't soar so high in the sky, nor fly as fast or as far as it was young.

"I don't want to live like this," thought the Phoenix. "I want to be young and strong."

So the Phoenix lifted it's head and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!" but the sun didn't answer. Day after day the Phoenix sang. When the sun still didn't answer, the Phoenix decided to return to the place where it had lived in the beginning and ask the sun one more time.

It flew across the desert, over hills, green valleys, and high mountains. The journey was long, and because the Phoenix was old and weak, it had to rest along the way. Now, the Phoenix has a keen sense of smell and is particularly fond of herbs and spices. So each time it landed, it collected pieces of cinnamon bark and all kinds of fragrant leaves. It tucked some in among its feathers and carried the rest in its claws.

When at last the bird came to the place that had once been its home, it landed on a tall palm tree growing high on a mountainside. Right at the top of the tree, the Phoenix built a nest with the cinnamon bark and lined it with the fragrant leaves. Then the Phoenix flew off and collected some sharp-scented gum called myrrh, which it had seen oozing out of a nearby tree. The Phoenix made an egg from the myrrh and carried the egg back to the nest.

Now everything was ready. The Phoenix sat down in its nest, lifted its head, and sang, "Sun, glorius sun, make me young and strong again!"

This time the sun heard the song. Swiftly it chased the clouds from the sky and stilled the winds and shone down on the mountainside with all its power.

The animals, the snakes, the lizards, and every other bird hid from the sun's fierce rays - in caves and holes, under shady rocks and trees. Only the Phoenix sat upon its nest and let the suns rays beat down upon it beautiful, shiny feathers.

Suddenly there was a flash of light, flames leaped out of the nest, and the Phoenix became a big round blaze of fire.

After a while the flames died down. The tree was not burnt, nor was the nest. But the Phoenix was gone. In the nest was a heap of silvery-gray ash.

The ash began to tremble and slowly heave itself upward. From under the ash there rose up a young Phoenix. It was small and looked sort of crumpled, but it stretched its neck and lifted its wings and flapped them. Moment by moment it grew, until it was the same size as the old Phoenix. It looked around, found the egg made of myrrh, and hollowed it out. Then it placed the ashes inside and finally closed up the egg. The young Phoenix lifted its head and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone! Forever and ever!"

When the song ended, the wind began to blow, the clouds came scudding across the sky, and the other living creatures crept out of their hiding places.

Then the Phoenix, with the egg in its claws, flew up and away. At the same time, a cloud of birds of all shapes and sizes rose up from the earth and flew behind the Phoenix, singing together, "You are the greatest of birds! You are our king!"

The birds flew with the Phoenix to the temple of the sun that the Egyptians had built at Heliopolis, city of the sun. Then the Phoenix placed the egg with the ashes inside on the sun's altar.

"Now," said the Phoenix, "I must fly on alone." And while the other birds watched, it flew off toward the faraway desert.

The Phoenix lives there still. But every five hundred years, when it begins to feel weak and old, it flies west to the same mountain. There it builds a fragrant nest on top of a palm tree, and there the sun once again burns it to ashes. But each time, the Phoenix rises up from those ashes, fresh and new and young again.

Die Vrou
8th November 2010, 08:21
Hello daar,

Nou dit is nou 'n mooi verhaal. Ek wonder nou net die Phoenix is mos 'n hoender?
My jongste seun hou verskriklik baie van hulle, hulle het hierdie lang sterte baie imponerend moet
ek sê. Hulle is pragtige voëls! Ek het selfs vir hom 'n 21ste verjaardag sleutel laat sny in
die Phoenix vorm.

Groete