The Egyptian bird benu, or purple heron, has had a remarkable history. Originally, it was mentioned in myths about the Creation, but later authors converted this animal in the firebird that lived almost eternally. Among the authors who refer to the phoenix (a rendering of benu, but in Greek meaning “the brilliant one”) are Hesiod, who claims that the bird could be 100,000 years old; Herodotus, who tells how the bird buries his father; the playwright Ezekiel, who describes its colors; and, in c.100 CE, suddenly three Latin authors – Tacitus, Martial, and bishop Clement of Rome. The little picture shows a Coptic phoenix, which symbolizes the resurrection. You can read more about the bird here, although the news here is probably more interesting.


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