Many people know that the phoenix is a bird, but what they don't realize is that it's not a real bird. You will not see a phoenix flying around your house or out in the wild. The phoenix is a mythological creature that can be found in Egyptian, Arabian, Persian, Greek, Roman and Chinese mythology. If you have ever heard someone compare an event to "a phoenix rising from the ashes," they are referring to this legendary bird's ability to live forever. Some may also refer to it as a firebird.
About the Phoenix
Depending on what type of mythology one reads, the phoneix has been described in many different ways. Some say it is a great, colorful bird with red, purple or gold feathers, while others say it has the head of a dog. Some say the bird never eats, while others claim it only eats the dew. In Greek mythology, the phoenix lived in the ancient civilation of Phoenicia and looked like an eagel or a peacock. The Egyptians claimed the bird looked more like a stork or heron. In both Egyptian and Greek Mythology, the phoenix is associated with the sun god.
Most tales claim that the bird is friendly and kind to humans. The phoenix is also said to be immortal in almost every occurrence. Every 500 or so years, when the bird reaches the end of its life cycle, it gathers items to make a nest. Once the nest is completed, the phoenix sits in it and faces the sun, flapping its wings to encourage flames from the sun's rays to burn its body. Once the fire is gone, a new phoneix hatches and repeats this act 500 years later.
In modern times, the phoenix is used throughout the word as a symbol for immortality and rebirth. Coins in Belgium and Iran feature a picture of the bird, marking various events in the countries' histories. The state of Arizona in the United States named its capital Phoenix because it was built on the ruins of the Hohokam civilization. Another city in the United States, Atlanta, Georgia, decided its official symbol would be the phoenix in 1888. This was due to the city declaring itself reborn after being burned to the ground during the Civil War by General William Tecumseh Sherman. In ancient Rome, the bird's image could be found on coins, medals and other items, because the Romans thought it would symbolize their desire for their empire to last forever.
Many people of the Christian faith use the phoenix to adorn tombs and gravestones, declaring it a symbol of Jesus Christ's resurrection. Not only does the phoenix find life after death like Christ did, but it is born without following the natural rules of reproduction and in some cultures, it was said that the bird rose from the dead after three days.
Tips and comments
Despite the common theme of rebirth, immortality, hope and eternity, the details surrounding the myth of the phoenix vary depending on which ancient civilization's mythology one examines. However, despite the many different descriptions and details given to the phoenix, what it stands for is almost universal in modern times. The best way to learn more about this legendary bird is to check out a book on Greek or Egyptian mythology.
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