Greek Myth: The Phoenix

The phoenix is a bird that lives for hundreds of years, and it is also very rare; according to some, there can be only one phoenix in the whole world at any given time. The phoenix's wings are golden-red in color and shine so brightly that they seem to glow like the sun's rays. Few people ever get a chance to see the phoenix, however, because it lives in the remote deserts of Arabia, feeding on frankincense, along with cinnamon, cardamon, and other exotic spices.

When the phoenix realizes that its long life is coming to an end, it builds a nest in the top of a tall palm tree. Then, inside the nest, it builds a pyre of twigs and wood. After this work is finished, the old phoenix settles down on top of the pyre. The natural heat of the phoenix's body causes the wood to catch fire but, by some miracle, the nest itself doesn't burn. With its last bit of strength, the phoenix flaps its immense wings, fanning the flames to rise higher and higher. The fire's heat finally consumes the phoenix's body, burning it to ashes.

Next, after the fire dies down and the grows cold, a worm comes wriggling out from the ashes. On the second day, the worm turns into a chick and, by the third day, there is a full-grown phoenix in the nest. The phoenix then flies to Heliopolis, the city of the sun god, carrying the nest in its beak. The grateful phoenix deposits the nest, which was both its grave and its cradle, as an offering in the sun god's temple. Having thus thanked the god, it's time for the phoenix to return to Arabia once again, continuing the eternal cycle of its solitary birth and death.

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