Source: geocities.com/euphyi

Ovid  tells the story of the Phoenix  as follows: "Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, and of these 'materials builds a pile on which it deposits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath amidst odours. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree (its own cradle and its parent's sepulchre), and carries it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun."
[see source: Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book XV - beginning line 579 ] 
Such is the account given by a poet. Now let us see that of a philosophic historian. Tacitus  says, "in the consulship of Paulus Fabius (A.D. 34) the miraculous bird known to the world by the name of the Phoenix, after disappearing for a series of ages, revisited Egypt. It was attended in its flight by a group of various birds, all attracted by the novelty, and gazing with wonder at so beautiful an appearance." He then gives an account of the bird, not varying materially from the preceding, but adding some details. "The first care of the young bird as soon as fledged, and able to trust to his wings, is to perform the obsequies of his father. But this duty is not undertaken rashly. He collects a quantity of myrrh, and to try his strength makes frequent excursions with a load on his back. When he has gained sufficient confidence in his own vigour, he takes up the body of his father and flies with it to the altar of the Sun, where he leaves it to be consumed in flames of fragrance."
[see source: The Annals of Publius Cornelius Tacitus - Book. 6, section 28 ] 
Other writers add a few particulars. The myrrh is compacted in the form of an egg, in which the dead Phoenix is enclosed. From the mouldering flesh of the dead bird a worm springs, and this worm, when grown large, is transformed into a bird. Herodotus describes the bird , though he says, "I have not seen it myself, except in a picture. Part of his plumage is gold-coloured, and part crimson; and he is for the most part very much like an eagle in outline and bulk." 
The first writer who disclaimed a belief in the existence of the Phoenix was Sir Thomas Browne, in his "Vulgar Errors " (Pseudodoxia Epidemica ), published in 1646. He was replied to a few years later by Alexander Ross, who says, in answer to the objection of the Phoenix so seldom making his appearance, "His instinct teaches him to keep out of the way of the tyrant of the creation, man, for if he were to be got at, some wealthy glutton would surely devour him, though there were no more in the world."
[see source: Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica - Bk. 3, Ch. 12: "Of the Phoenix" ] 
Dryden  in one of his early poems has this allusion to the Phoenix: 
"So when the new-born Phoenix first is seen
Her feathered subjects all adore their queen,
And while she makes her progress through the East,
From every grove her numerous train 's increased;
Each poet of the air her glory sings,
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings."
Milton , in "Paradise Lost," Book V. , compares the angel Raphael descending to earth to a Phoenix: 
"...Down thither, prone in flight
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing,
Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan
Winnows the buxom air; till within soar
Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems
A Phoenix, gazed by all; as that sole bird
When, to enshrine his relics in the sun's
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies."

It lives for upwards of five hundred years, and when it observes that it has grown old, it erects a funeral pyre for itself from small branches of aromatic plants, and having turned to face the rays of the sun, beating its wings, it deliberately fans the flames for itself and is consumed in the fire. 
But on the ninth day after that, the bird rises from its own ashes. 
Our Lord Jesus Christ displays the features of this bird, saying: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again' (see John, 10:18). If, therefore, the phoenix has the power to destroy and revive itself, why do fools grow angry at the word of God, who is the true son of God, who says: 'I have the power to lay down my life and to take it again'? 
For it is a fact that our Saviour descended from heaven; he filled his wings with the fragrance of the Old and New Testaments; he offered himself to God his father for our sake on the altar of the cross; and on the third he day he rose again. 
The phoenix can also signify the resurrection of the righteous who, gathering the aromatic plants of virtue, prepare for the renewal of their former energy after death.
The phoenix is a bird of Arabia. Arabia can be understood as a plain, flat land. The plain is this world; Arabia is worldly life; Arabs, those who are of this world. The Arabs call a solitary man phoenix. Any righteous man is solitary, wholly removed from the cares of this world. 
The phoenix also is said to live in places in Arabia and to reach the great age of five hundred years. When it observes that the end of its life is at hand, it makes a container for itself out of frankincense and myrrh and other aromatic substances; when its time is come, it enters the covering and dies. From the fluid of its flesh a worm arises and gradually grows to maturity; when the appropriate time has come, it acquires wings to fly, and regains its previous appearance and form. 
Let this bird teach us, therefore, by its own example to believe in the resurrection of the body; lacking both an example to follow and any sense of reason, it reinvests itself with the very signs of resurrection, showing without doubt that birds exist as an example to man, not man as an example to the birds. 
Let it be, therefore, an example to us that as the maker and creator of birds does not suffer his saints to to perish forever, he wishes the bird, rising again, to be restored with its own seed. Who, but he, tells the phoenix that the day of its death has come, in order that it might make its covering, fill it with perfumes, enter it and die there, where the stench of death can be banished by sweet aromas? 
You too, O man, make a covering for yourself and, stripping off your old human nature with your former deeds, put on a new one. Christ is your covering and your sheath, shielding you and hiding you on the evil day. 
Do you want to know why his covering is your protection? The Lord said: 'In my quiver have I hid him' (see Isaiah, 49:2). Your covering, therefore, is faith; fill it with the perfumes of your virtues - of chastity, mercy and justice, and enter in safety into its depths, filled with the fragrance of the faith betokened by your excellent conduct.
May the end of this life find you shrouded in that faith, that your bones may be fertile; let them be like a well-watered garden, where the seeds are swiftly raised. Know, therefore, the day of your death, as Paul knew his, saying: 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness' (2 Timothy, 4: 7-8). And he entered, therefore, into his covering like the worthy phoenix, filling it with the sweet odour of martyrdom. 
In this way, therefore, the phoenix is consumed by fire but from its ashes is born or brought forth again. When it dies, it is also born again from its ashes. The point of this example is that everyone should believe in the truth of the resurrection to come. Faith in the resurrection to come is no more of a miracle than the resurrection of the phoenix from its ashes. 
See how the nature of birds offers to ordinary people proof of the resurrection; that what the scripture proclaims, the working of nature confirms.
Although it's a common legend to many ancient civilizations, the origin of the Myth of the Phoenix is attributed to the Egyptians, civilization that between other features, was obssessed in the searh of eternity. 
Phoenix is the Greek name given to a mythological bird offered in sacrifice to Ra, God of the Sun in the ancient Egypt. This bird was similar to an eagle, and possesed a resplendent golden-red plumage that made it look like wrapped up on flames. In some versions, the Phoenix was shown in flames rather than feathers. 
The Phoenix inhabited in Arabia. According to the legends, it could live until 500 years. At the end of this period, the Phoenix built its own mortuary pyre and was consumed by its own fire until ashes. From these ashes, subsequently, the Phoenix would reborn. This cycle was repited over and over. The Phoenix was the symbolic representation of the Death and rebirth of the Sun. 
The Greek poet Herodotus told in one passage of his writings a first form the Phoenix's legend. In this legend, the Phoenix comes back every 500 years in order to search the body of its predecessor. After making a myrrh egg, The Phoenix puts the body of its predecessor inside it, and takes it to the Temple of the Sun located in Egypt. 
500 years later, Tacitus and Plinius coincided that many of the ancient myths were confusing, and they investigated the cronology of the Phoenix. Through their studies, they determinated that the Phoenix lived the equivalent to a Platonic year. This is the time that the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets known in that time, need to return to their originals positions. This translated to our calendary, represents a period of 12.994 years. 
The ancient ones believed that, completed this enormous astronomical cycle, the universal story would be repited again in all its details, upong being given again the same conditions of planetary influence. In other words, the Phoenix was considered like a Mirror of the Universe. 
By the end of the IV century, Claudianus wrote some verses about an inmortal bird, enable to reborn from its ashes, heir of itself, and witness of the time. 
The Phoenix from the Chinese Mythology offer another description. Under the name of Feng, it's showed to us as a bird of shining colours, very looked like to a pheasant. In remote times, The Feng frequented the gardens and palaces of righteous emperors. 
As it always happens with many of the mythological creatures, the versions about their characteristics tends to vary according to what culture is contemplating them. But all the stories results equaly atractives, and let us know a little more about the wealth of the believings of the ancient civilizations. 
Phoenix is one of the Southern Hemisphere constellations introduced by Johann Bayer in 1603. The constellation is in fact rather like a large bird, rising into the air. 
In the Garden of Paradise,
beneath the Tree of Knowledge,
bloomed a rose bush.
Here, in the first rose, a bird was born.
His flight was like the flashing of light,
his plumage was beauteous,
and his song ravishing.
But when Eve plucked the fruit of the tree
of knowledge of good and evil,
when she and Adam
were driven from Paradise,
there fell from the flaming sword of the cherub
a spark into the nest of the bird,
which blazed up forthwith
The bird perished in the flames;
but from the red egg in the nest
there fluttered aloft a new one
the one solitary Phoenix bird.
The fable tells that he dwells in Arabia,
and that every hundred years,
he burns himself to death in his nest;
But each time a new Phoenix,
the only one in the world,
rises up from the red egg.
The bird flutters round us,
swift as light,
beauteous in color,
charming in song.
When a mother sits by her infant's cradle,
he stands on the pillow,
and, with his wings,
forms a glory around the infant's head.
He flies through the chamber of content,
and brings sunshine into it,
and the violets on the humble table
smell doubly sweet.
But the Phoenix is not the bird of
Arabia alone.
He wings his way in the glimmer
of the Northern Lights
over the plains of Lapland,
and hops among the yellow flowers
in the short Greenland summer.
Beneath the copper mountains of Fablun,
and England's coal mines, he flies,
in the shape of a dusty moth,
over the hymnbook
that rests on the knees of the pious miner.
On a lotus leaf he floats
down the sacred waters of the Ganges,
and the eye of the Hindu maid
gleams bright when she beholds him.
The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him?
The Bird of Paradise,
the holy swan of song!
On the car of Thespis he sat
in the guise of a chattering raven,
and flapped his black wings,
smeared with the lees of wine;
over the sounding harp of Iceland
swept the swan's red beak;
on Shakespeare's shoulder he sat
in the guise of Odin's raven,
and whispered in the poet's ear
“Immortality!”
and at the minstrels' feast he fluttered
through the halls of the Wartburg.
The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him?
He sang to thee the Marseillaise,
and thou kissedst the pen
that fell from his wing;
he came in the radiance of Paradise,
and perchance
thou didst turn away from him,
towards the sparrow who sat
with tinsel on his wings.
The Bird of Paradise,
renewed each century
born in flame,
ending in flame!
Thy picture,
in a golden frame,
hangs in the halls of the rich,
but thou thyself often fliest around,
lonely and disregarded,
a myth--
“The Phoenix of Arabia.”
In Paradise,
when thou wert born in the first rose,
beneath the Tree of Knowledge,
thou receivedst a kiss,
and thy right name was given thee
--thy name,
Poetry.
by Hans Christian Andersen
There is a bird that lays no eggs and has no young. It was here when the world began and is still living today, in a hidden, faraway dessert spot. It is the phoenix, the bird of fire. 
One day in the begining times, the sun looked down and saw a large bird with shimmering feathers. They were red and gold--bright and dazzling like the sun itself. The sun called out, "Glorious Phoenix, you shall be my bird and live forever!" 
Live forever! The Phoenix was overjoyed to hear these words. It lifted it's head and sang, "Sun glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone!" 
But the Phoenix was not happy for long. Poor bird. It's feathers were far too beautiful. Men, women, and children were always casing it and trying to trap it. They wanted to have some of those beautiful, shiny feathers for themselves. 
"I cannot live here," thought the phoenix. and i9t flew off toward the east, where the sun rises in the morning. 
The Phoenix flew for a long time, and then came to a far away, hidden desert where no hummans lived. And there the phoenix remained in peace, flying freely and singing it's songs of praise to the sun above. 
Almost five hundred years passed. The Phoenix was still alive, but it had grown old. It was often tired, and it had lost much of it's strength. It couldn't soar so high in the sky, nor fly as fast or as far as it was young. 
"I don't want to live like this," thought the Phoenix. "I want to be young and strong." 
So the Phoenix lifted it's head and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, make me young and strong again!" but the sun didn't answer. Day after day the Phoenix sang. When the sun still didn't answer, the Phoenix decided to return to the place where it had lived in the begining and ask the sun one more time. 
It flew across the desert, over hills, green valleys, and high mountains. The journey was long, and because the Phoenix was old and weak, it had to rest along the way. Now, the Phoenix has a keen sense of smell and is particularly fond of herbs and spices. So each time it landed, it collected pieces of cinnamon bark and all kinds of fragrant leaves. It tucked some in among its feathers and carried the rest in its claws. 
When at last the bird came to the place that had once been its home, it landed on a tall palm tree growing high on a mountainside. Right at the top of the tree, the Phoenix built a nest with the cinnamon bark and lined it with the fragrant leaves. Then the Phoenix flew off and collected some sharp-scented gum called myrrh, which it had seen oozing out of a nearby tree. The Phoenix made an egg from the myrrh and carried the egg back to the nest. 
Now everything was ready. The Phoenix sat down in its nest, lifted its head, and sang, "Sun, glorius sun, make me young and strong again!" 
This time the sun heard the song. Swiftly it chased the clouds from the sky and stilled the winds and shone down on the mountainside with all its power. 
The animals, the snakes, the lizards, and every other bird hid from the sun's fierce rays -- in caves and holes, under shady rocks and trees. Only the Phoenix sat upon its nest and let the sun's rays beat down upon it beautiful, shiny feathers. 
Suddenly there was a flash of light, flames leaped out of the nest, and the Phoenix became a big round blaze of fire. 
After a while the flames died down. The tree was not burnt, nor was the nest. But the Phoenix was gone. In the nest was a heap of silvery-gray ash. 
The ash began to tremble and slowly heave itself upward. From under the ash there rose up a young Phoenix. It was small and looked sort of crumpled, but it stretched its neck and lifted its wings and flapped them. Moment by moment it grew, until it was the same size as the old Phoenix. It looked around, found the egg made of myrrh, and hollowed it out. Then it placed the ashes inside and finally closed up the egg. The young Phoenix lifted its head and sang, "Sun, glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you alone! Forever and ever!" 
When the song ended, the wind began to blow, the clouds came scudding across the sky, and the other living creatures crept out of their hiding places. 
Then the Phoenix, with the egg in its claws, flew up and away. At the same time, a cloud of birds of all shapes and sizes rose up from the earth and flew behind the Phoenix, singing together, "You are the greatest of birds! You are our king!" 
The birds flew with the Phoenix to the temple of the sun that the Egyptians had built at Heliopolis, city of the sun. Then the Phoenix placed the egg with the ashes inside on the sun's altar. 
"Now," said the Phoenix, "I must fly on alone." And while the other birds watched, it flew off toward the faraway desert. 
The Phoenix lives there still. But every five hundred years, when it begins to feel weak and old, it flies west to the same mountain. There it builds a fragrant nest on top of a palm tree, and there the sun once again burns it to ashes. But each time, the Phoenix rises up from those ashes, fresh and new and young again. 
The legendary phoenix was a symbol of high virtue and grace to the Chinese. The phoenix, representing power and prosperity, reflected the empress, and only she was allowed to wear its symbol. The "phuong" is the male phoenix, and the "hoang" is the female. As conceived by the Chinese imagination, the phoenix has a large bill, the neck of a snake, the back of a tortoise, and tail of a fish. It carries in its bill either two scrolls or a square box that contains sacred books. According to tradition, the phoenix's song includes all the five notes of the traditional musical scale; its feathers include the five fundamental colors and its body is a composite of the six celestial bodies: the head symbolises the sky; the eyes, the sun; back, the moon; the wings, the wind; feet, the earth; and the tail, the planets. The phoenix appears only in peaceful and prosperous times, and hides itself when there is trouble. Therefore, the phoenix is both a sign of peace and a symbol of disharmony. In Chinese mythology, the phoenix is represented by the feng-huang, a bird symbolizing the union of yin and yang. 
In Egypt the phoenix was usually depicted as a heron, but also as a peacock or an eagle. The brilliantly red and golden plumed Bennu was the sacred bird of Heliopolis. Identified as a heron with its long straight back and head adorned at the back with two erect feathers, the Bennu was later named Phoenix by the Greeks. The Bennu lived on the ben-ben stone or obelisk within the sanctuary of Heliopolis and was worshipped alongside Ra and Osiris. It was said to create itself from the fire that burned on the top of the sacred Persea tree in Heliopolis. The sun rose in the form of the Bennu each morning. Bennu was also considered a manifestation of Osiris, said to spring from his heart as a living symbol of the god. The Bennu symbolizes rebirth as it rises from the ashes, just as the new sun rises from the old. 
The Feng-huang or Fung; the "vermilion bird," the "substance of the flame." The Feng has the head and comb of a pheasant and the tail of a peacock. It personifies the primordial force of the heavens. It is one of the Four Spiritually Endowed, or Sacred, Creatures and like the dragon and ky-lin, with which it is always associated, it is both yin and yang. When it is the male feng it becomes yang, solar, the fire bird; but as the huang it is feminine, yin, and lunar. When portrayed with the dragon as a symbol of the Emperor, the phoenix becomes entirely feminine as the Empress, and together they represent both aspects of imperial power. Like the dragon and ky-lin, the phoenix is made up of various elements, typifying the entire cosmos; it has the head of a cock (the sun), the back of a swallow as the crescent moon, its wings are the wind, its tail represents trees and flowers, and its feet are the earth; it has five colors symbolizing the five virtues; "Its color delights the eye, its comb expresses righteousness, its tongue utters sincerity, its voice chants melody, its ear enjoys music, its heart conforms to regulations, its breast contains the treasures of literature, and its spurs are powerful against transgressors" (from an ancient ritual) 

The Feminine aspect (huang), denotes beauty, delicacy of feeling, and peace. It is also a bridal symbol signifying "inseparable fellowship." This is not only for the married couple but for the complete yin-yang mutual interdependence in the universe in terms of duality. 

Japanese: The sun; rectitude; fidelity; justice; obedience