A large male bird of the easter Mediterranean, so magnificent in appearance that the Phoenicians named their country after him. (Or it may be that they named the bird after their country.) It is possible that he originated in Egypt or Arabia and migrated to Phoenicia. He is the only member of his species, although he may have some links with the peacock family, and he is closely related to the sun.
Descriptions of phoenix plumage vary considerably. Some say the bird is an overall reddish-gold, others that he is royal purple with a golden neck and head, and others again that he has a plum-coloured body, scarlet back and wing feathers, a golden head and a sweeping tail of rose and azure. Possibly the bird displays different colouration at various stages of his long life.
The phoenix is friendly to humans, who are inthralled by his gorgeous plumage and sweet singing voice, but does not concern himself with their affairs.
He is semi-immortal, having a lifespan of at least 500 years (some say 1,461 or even 12,954 years) and he uses a unique method of reproduction. At the end of each life cycle he builds a nest of spice-tree twigs, settles into the nest, and with a single clap of his wings sets it afire. The mature bird perishes in the conflagrition, but as the flames die down a young phoenix emerges from them in all the glory of his pristine plumage.
The first task of the young phoenix is to fly to the temple of the Sun, at Heliopolice in Egypt, with the mummified corpse of his father. He lays this upon the altar, then flies to Phoenicia and settles down for several contended centuries until his time arrives for immolative self-reproduction.