Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year;
On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,
But only on tears of incense and amomum,
And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.
the 14th century, Italian poet Dante Alighieri refers to the myth in Inferno Canto XXIV
In ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix (/ˈfiːnɪks/; Ancient Greek: φοῖνιξ, phoînix) is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.
Some legends say it dies in a show of flames and combustion, others that it simply dies and decomposes before being born again.
The Egyptians also have a Phoenix Myth.
Classical discourse on the subject of the phoenix attributes a potential origin of the myth to Ancient Egypt. Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, provides the following account of the phoenix:
The Egyptians have also another sacred bird called the phoenix which I myself have never seen, except in pictures. Indeed it is a great rarity, even in Egypt, only coming there (according to the accounts of the people of Heliopolis) once in five hundred years, when the old phoenix dies. Its size and appearance, are as follows:
The plumage is partly red, partly golden, while the general make and size are almost exactly that of the eagle. They tell a story of what this bird does, which does not seem to me to be credible. He comes all the way from Arabia, and brings the parent bird, all plastered over with myrrh, to the temple of the Sun. There he buries the body. In order to bring him, they say, he first forms a ball of myrrh as big as he can carry. Then he hollows out the ball and puts his parent inside, after which he covers over the opening with fresh myrrh, and the ball is then of exactly the same weight as at first. He brings it to Egypt, plastered over as I have said, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun. Such is the story they tell of the doings of this bird.