Phoenix (I)

“Phoenix” by Owen Davey

PHOENIX (I) (Greek phoĩniks, phóiniks; Latin phoenix)

in Greek and Roman mythologies fantastic bird from Ethiopia. It resembled a large eagle with multi-colored plumage (gold, blue, red and purple). It lived 500 (1460, 7006 or 12954) years and there was always only one. When it sensed the incoming death, it made a nest of aromatic herbs. There it died, and from its seed a new bird was born. Son placed its father’s body inside a hollow trunk of myrrh (or inside an egg made of myrrh resin) and brought to Egypt, where it burned it or let the priests do it [1-3]. According to another version phoenix performed self-immolation in its nest, while singing a dirge [4], and from the ashes a new bird was born [5-7].


[1] O v i d. Met., XV, 393 ff.; [2] T a c. Annal., VI, 28; [3] H d t., II, 73; [4] P h i l o s t r. Vit. Apol. Tyan., III, 49; [5] L a c t., De ave Phoen.; [6] C l a u d., De ave Phoen.; [7] A r t e m., Onirocrit., IV, 47.

J. H u b a u x, M. L e r o y, Le mythe du Phoenix, Liége 1939; R. V a n d e n B r o e k, The Myth of the Phoenix according to Classical and Christian Traditions, Leiden 1972.


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