Once, our world crawled with creatures as wondrous and numerous as the Gods themselves. The Gods, when young were sent to live with these ancients to learn their ways. The great bear Ursa, ruler of the mountainous lands, was known for harsh but just guidance. The Hydra, was famous for riddles, given that each asked had more than one answer. The Dragon, feared for war craft and much sought after for the same. Pegasus, King of his kind, flew the skies swifter than the Northern Wind, until Boreas became furious with jealousy.
“Mere animals should not possess more than us. We are Gods, and should be matchless,” Boreas complained bitterly to some of his cousins.
“I could not agree more,” replied Aphrodite, thinking not only of Cassiopeia, vain beautiful Queen, but also of another.
In the southern black desert lived a creature of such beauty that peoples of many lands made pilgrimage every quarter century to witness the transformation. They walked on blistering sands, through blasting winds towards a single oasis easily missed in a sea of black dunes. Here grew rare healing and medicinal plants that thrived in the ash rich soil. Healers were allowed to gather them only the night before. Those who reached with too eager fingers found them burned to the bone from the fire of the Phoenixes throat. Above the oasis it flew spreading wings for the wind and filling the sky with streaks of colored fire. People would stand in blissful wonder, faces tilted upwards as they watched the Phoenix give up old life for new, knowing this to be the most beautiful sight in all the world.
Aphrodite could not have it so, because she believed what her Papa had told her, that she alone was beauty. Hephaestus too, for though he was master of all things fire he was not master of the Phoenix older to this world than he. The three gods went to the Graeae sisters on the darkest night of the year and forced them to transfer the life and power from the ancients to the Gods themselves. The Graeae knew this was the beginning of the end for all things ancient, themselves included, and they stood around their fire sending sparks into the sky, drawing on the power of the Titans. Indeed they cast the Gods spell, but refused to let all things old and wondrous die. The Graeae sisters gave their lives to the casting sending the ancients not to oblivion but to the sky, so should mortals care to, they can ever look up and see those that came before.
(source New Oxford American Dictionary online)
(in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.
Phoenix |ˈfēniks| Astronomy
a southern constellation (the Phoenix), west of Grus.