Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ROME: Chapter XXV.—The phœnix an emblem...
Chapter XXV.—The phœnix an emblem of our resurrection.
Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phœnix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed. 104
This fable respecting the phœnix is mentioned by Herodotus (ii. 73) and by Pliny (Nat. Hist., x. 2.) and is used as above by Tertullian (De Resurr., §13) and by others of the Fathers.
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