The phoenix is a legendary bird mentioned in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology. According to ancient writers, the phoenix lived for 500 years, then died and was reborn. It had brilliant golden and scarlet feathers and grew to the size of an eagle.

Just before dying, the phoenix built a nest of fragrant herbs and spices, including cinnamon and myrrh. Then it set the nest on fire and died in the flames. However, a new phoenix rose from the ashes. When the young bird was strong enough, it placed the ashes of the dead phoenix in an egg made of myrrh. Then the young phoenix carried the egg to Heliopolis, the Egyptian city of the sun, and placed it on the altar of the sun god Ra (Re).

immortality ability to live forever

resurrection coming to life again; rising from the dead

The phoenix was associated with immortality and eternal rebirth in Egypt, and the Romans used it on coins to symbolize Rome, the Eternal City. Early Christians saw the phoenix as a symbol of resurrection. The bird also appears as a sacred figure in both Chinese and Japanese mythology.

See also Birds in Mythology .

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