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The Phoenix: the Immortal Firebird

Many myths, fantastic creatures have gone through centuries of history and thus mark our memories almost immutably. It is an animal whose myth is as old as its legendary longevity: the Phoenix.

The Phoenix: the Immortal Firebird

Hello my Marmosets!

I hope I missed you? Yes ? No ? Never mind ! I am still incrusted! Today, I come to make you a little “chat” about this animal that fascinates me as much as the dragon.

The phoenix is a legendary bird, resembling the heron, which has a long longevity that is characterized by its ability to reborn after consuming its own flames. It thus symbolizes the cycles of death, resurrection, but also of nobility. For the latter, I suppose, but as usual, it is only my humble opinion, that this is due to its majestic, almost imperial aspect.

The phoenix, or phoenix, comes from the ancient Greek φοῖνιξ / phoînix, meaning: “purple red”.

This fabulous bird was originally from Arabia and attached to the cult of the Sun in ancient Egypt, where it was also venerated. The narratives describe the phoenix as a sort of eagle adorned with a plumage of brilliant colors. Certainly because of this attachment to the worship of the sun. It is also probably the reason why, it remains in our minds like “the bird of fire” par excellence. When we think “phoenix” do we not immediately think of “immortal” and “fire“?

The phoenix can live for a long time, for centuries (the poor, it must be bored firmly); no tradition mentions an existence of less than five hundred years (nothing but that!). Whereas the shock for him is that suddenly our friend the phoenix reproduces himself: when he feels his end arrive, he builds a nest of aromatic branches and incense (he has the taste … or ought I to say smell), sets it on fire and burns itself in its flames. From the ashes of this pyre arises the new phoenix.

Georges Cuvier (anatomist and paleontologist) saw in him the golden pheasant. It has also been identified with birds of paradise and flamingos.

As with any mystical and fabulous creature, the phoenix has crossed several civilizations, and thus several myths. It is for this reason that we find birds similar to the one that is anchored in our current imagination in the mythologies: Persian under the name of “Simurgh” or “Rokh”, Chinese under the name of “Fenghuang” which means “immortal bird”, Native American with “Thunderbird” or aboriginal in Australia with “Minka bird”.

Through myths

As for the Persian phoenix, the bird has a connotation of lightness, the quintessence of things and beings. Here the animal incarnates the thought opposed to matter, the inner search for man, his “deep self, his spirit.

The Egyptian phoenix (the bénou) and the Greek are the oldest.

Herodotus (Greek historian and geographer) describes it thus:

“It is only in their country that every five hundred years […] its wings are partly golden and partly red, and it is entirely in conformity with the eagle as to the figure and the detailed description …”

However, the point of view of Herodotus contains several inconsistencies. Notably the burial of the father, knowing that there would be only one at a time.

The Moderns (who thought that literary creation consisted of innovating and militating for literature adapted to contemporary times and new artistic forms) saw it more like the Egyptian benou: a heron perched on the benben stone, the sacred stone of the temple solar of Heliopolis on which the first rays of the sun fall. The bird would then be the incarnation of the soul of Re or also the manifestation of Osiris.

As for the Roman phoenix for Ovidus, Pliny and Tacitus, the phoenix decomposes to be reborn, whereas in Martial and Stace the theme of the pyre and its spices appears analogous to the funerary practices of the Romans.

The effigy of the phoenix appears on the coins of Trajan to Constantine I (Roman emperors) and his sons.

Whatever the myths, the legendary phoenix is intimately linked to fire, either by solar attachment or by its own flames.

And religion in all that?

The Midrash Rabbah (set of ten aggadic midrashim collections on the five Torah Books and the five Rolls) reports that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge all the animals also ate fruit forbidden, and that death was decreed for them all, except one bird called Khôlעוף החול” who did not eat it. That is why the phoenix lives forever. And Rabbi Yannai (or Rabbi Jannai, a wise Jew who lived in the third century) explains that his life takes place as follows: he lives a period of a thousand years at the end of which a fire bursts from his nest and consumes him an egg, and from this egg it grows again.

The phoenix is ​​also one of the most widespread Christian symbols. Numerous literary sources, profane and Christian, evoke the legend of the phoenix. Its symbolism is probably Stoic inspiration: the eternal fire destroys everything and brings it all back to life. It is the symbol of the Resurrection. The Christians have brought to light all that in nature could prepare the acceptance of this mystery. The legend of the phoenix contributes to it, as does the cock that announces the new day: a metaphor for the Christian who awaits the day when Christ returns. From that moment he occupied a prominent position on the bell-tower of the churches.

Whether in myths, religion, or even literature, the phoenix fuels our imagination in a marked way. He is, with the dragon, one of the few fantastic creatures to have not undergone any real physical change. It remains over the years as we imagine it: a kind of flaming eagle that is reborn from its ashes.

Its traces even go back to genesis, you are entitled, my Marmosets, to ask me these questions: has it really existed? Does he exist today? Obviously, I can not answer you. But, as for many of you, I remain passionate about all these wonderful creatures. I do not care if they are real or not, what matters to me is that they make us live our imagination, and that, along with the sirens and all the others, makes them , in my opinion, truly immortal.


The Phoenix in the manga

  • “Phoenix, the bird of fire”, by Osamu Tezuka

  • Ikki, character of “Saint Seya”

  • Marco, character of “One Piece”

  • “The Wings of the Phoenix”, Lim Jin Ju

  • “Phoenix”, Osamu Tezuka


The Phoenix in Music

  • PHÉNIX, the French Heavy Metal band


The Phoenix in Science

  • Phénix (nuclear), the fast breeder reactor located in Marcoule (Gard).

  • Phoenix is a constellation of the southern hemisphere.


The Phoenix in Literature

  • “The Order of the Phoenix”, (Harry Potter) JK Rowling, [NB: Fumesck, the Phoenix of Dumbledore, however appears before this volume.]

  • “The Metamorphoses of the Phoenix in Ancient Christianity,” in Folia Electronica Classica No. 8, Paul-Augustin Deproost.

  • The Bestiary of Christ, Milano, Arche, Louis Charbonneau-Lassay.

  • “The colorful phoenix (from Herodotus to Ambrose of Milan)”, Bulletin of the Association Guillaume Budé vol. 1, Laurence Gosserez

  • “The creation of the world and the phoenix”, Laurence Gosserez.

  • “The Birds Conference,” (Persian tale of the thirteenth century), Sufi Farid al-Din Attar of Nishapur (poet).

  • “The Phoenix Trilogy”, Bernard Simonay

  • “Cycle of the Phoenix”, Sébastien Pennes

  • “The Phoenix Guards”, Steven Brust


See you soon for new discoveries always more fabulous …

S-P Decroix, Author of The Princess Of The Deepest Times.