Only one Phoenix bird, the bird of fire, ever exists. Resembling both an eagle and a peacock, he lives for hundreds or thousands of years. At the end of his life, he sets fire to his nest and is consumed by flames. A young Phoenix is reborn from those same flames. The first Phoenix was present in the Garden of Eden and the Phoenix will exist for eternity, but he will be lonely, the only one of his kind.
The Phoenix has been celebrated in magic and mythology and literature for all time. He may have been heard of first in Arabia or that may be where he first lived and then he appears in Egyptian mythology, closely associated with the worship of the sun.
In ancient Greece, he was a symbol of immortality and of resurrection and closely associated with Phoebus, the sun god. The Phoenix bird was believed to live in a cool well and sing so beautifully at dawn that the Sun god would stop his chariot to listen.
In Rome, they knew the story of the phoenix bird and the Roman poet, Claudian wrote about him
“The willing bird; to burn is his desire.
That he may live again; he’s proud in death,
And goes in haste to gain a better breath.”
By the ninth century, the Phoenix was known in England and features in a famous anglo-saxon poem in the Exeter Book of Leofric, which still lies in Exeter Cathedral Library. By then the Phoenix, the death and resurrection of the bird was a representation of Christianity.
One of Shakespeare’s most difficult love poems was called The Phoenix and The Turtle, but the most moving poem about the bird is in the poem The Phoenix Bird by Hans Christian Andersen, read charmingly here:
The Phoenix will live forever with us as a special and magical bird, which is why he also features quite so much in children’s books, including the forthcoming Guardians of The Scroll, sequel to The Palace Library.