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The Legend of the Phoenix

In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix (Ancient Greek φοίνιξ phóinīx) is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was subsequently adopted as a symbol in Early Christianity. The phoenix is referenced in modern popular culture. In his study of the phoenix, R. van der Broek summarizes, that, in the historical record, the phoenix "could symbolize renewal in general as well as the sun, Time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life".

The modern English noun phoenix derives from Middle English fenix (before 1150), itself from Old English fēnix (around 750). Old English fēnix was borrowed from Medieval Latin phenix and, later, from Latin phoenīx, deriving from Greek φοίνιξ phóinīx.

During the Classic period, the name of the bird, φοίνιξ, was variously associated with the color purple, 'Phoenician', and the date palm.[3] According to an etymology offered by the 6th and 7th century archbishop Isidore of Seville, the name of the phoenix derived from its purple-red hue, an explanation that has been influential. This association continued into the medieval period, albeit in a different fashion; the bird was considered "the royal bird" and therefore also referred to as "the purple one".

With the deciphering of the Linear B script in the 20th century, however, the ancestor of Greek φοίνιξ was confirmed in Mycenaean Greek po-ni-ke, itself open to a variety of interpretations.

Relation to the Egyptian benu
Classical discourse on the subject of the phoenix points to a potential origin of the phoenix in Ancient Egypt. In the 19th century scholastic suspicions appeared to be confirmed by the discovery that Egyptians in Heliopolis had venerated the benu, a solar bird observed in some respects to be similar to the Greek phoenix. However, the Egyptian sources regarding the benu are often problematic and open to a variety of interpretations. Some of these sources may have been influenced by Greek notions of the phoenix.

Analogues
Scholars have observed analogues to the phoenix in a variety of cultures. These analogues include the Persian anka, the Hindu garuda and Gandaberunda, the Russian firebird, the Persian simorgh, the Turkish kerkes, the Tibetan Me byi karmo, the Chinese fenghuang, and the Japanese ho-oh.