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A Tale

Ovid, Metamorphoses, XV 391-417 - Pythagorasís Teachings: The Phoenix

    Yet these creatures receive their start in life from others: there is one, a bird, which renews itself, and reproduces from itself. The Assyrians call it the phoenix. It does not live on seeds and herbs, but on drops of incense, and the sap of the cardamom plant. When it has lived for five centuries, it then builds a nest for itself in the topmost branches of a swaying palm tree, using only its beak and talons. As soon as it has lined it with cassia bark, and smooth spikes of nard, cinnamon fragments and yellow myrrh, it settles on top, and ends its life among the perfumes.

    They say that, from the fatherís body, a young phoenix is reborn, destined to live the same number of years. When age has given it strength, and it can carry burdens, it lightens the branches of the tall palm of the heavy nest, and piously carries its own cradle, that was its fatherís tomb, and, reaching the city of Hyperion, the sun-god, through the clear air, lays it down in front of the sacred doors of Hyperionís temple.

Adamus Lonicerus in the "Kreuterbuch", 1679:

    ... It is a strange bird in Arabia, that you find at the place where the sun rises. It lives fivehundred years or longer, as many authorities stated in written form. As soon as the phoenix realizes his old age it collects incense and herbs that smell well and makes a heap from them. It flies up to the shine of the sun and stirs the fire with the wind by flapping his wings and burns itself within and rises alive again from the ashes, beginning as a little worm and feathers growing at the third day ...

Solinus on the appearance of the phoenix:

    The arabs describe the bird phoenix, which is as big as an eagle with a hard beak, and feathers erected like the peacock's ones, a tough head and with a golden neck, his back is purple and the tailfeathers are red like a rose, parted in colours like water.

Konrad from Megenburg in "Buch der Natur":

    ... The Phoenix is a bird from arabia ... he lives threehundred and fourty years ... he has the size of an eagle ... and he has a crown on his head like the phoenx and a wrinkled throat ... his neck is golden, his back is purple in colour. His tail is yellow like bee-wax, mixed with wonderful shining red feathers. When he grows old the phoenix seeks a beautiful tree in the east on the highest mountain, near a nice fountain. He builds up his nest with incense, myrrh, cinnamon and other valuable herbs and spices. When the sun's rays heat the nest, the phoenix flap his wings until the piled herbs and spices catch fire. Then the phoenix lays down on them and dies. Some days later a little worm creeps out of the ashes which grows wings. This worm becomes the perfect phoenix ...

Konrad from Megenburg tells another Tale from Isidorus:

    Once a phoenix flew down into the egypt city Heliopolis. It was in the month Adar, which is April, the next month before May. On his wings he carried many valuable spices and herbs and he landed on a pile of wood, which a priest collected for a sacrifice and set fire to it. So the phoenix burned itself amongst the herbs and spices he brought along on his wings. One day later the priest found the fire burned down to ashes. Within its ashes he found a pleasant smelling little worm. Another one day later the worm was grown up to a bird and at the third day developed into the phoenix that flew away.

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