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The Myth

In ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the phoenix is a mythical bird and associated with the Egyptian sun-god Re and the Greek Phoibos (Apollo). According to the Greeks the bird lives in Arabia, nearby a cool well. Each morning at dawn, it would bathe in the water and sing such a beautiful song, that the sun-god stops his chariot to listen. There exists only one phoenix at a time.

When it felt its death approaching (every 500 or 1461 years), it would build a nest of aromatic wood and set it on fire, and was consumed by the flames. When it was burned, a new phoenix sprang forth from the pyre. It then embalmed the ashes of its predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flew with it to Heliopolis ("city of the sun"). There it would deposit the egg on the altar of the sun god.

The phoenix symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death. In that aspect it was often placed on sarcophagi. It is associated with the Egyptian Benu, the Garuda of the Hindus, and the Chinese Feng-huang.

Judaic lore mentions that the phoenix achieved its unique status as an immortal bird because it refrained from bothering the overburdened Noah during the Flood voyage.

In Treasure of Zeus and Between Friends

Strife, posing as Nysus Gaius, talks to Hercules during training about a cave in the woods. In this cave, there is a chalice that was created by Zeus as a wedding present for Hera that he supposedly wants back "now that they don't see each other much anymore". Hercules, accompanied by Iolaus and Jason, goes to the cave and finds that there is a phoenix statue perched over the entrance. They each throw spears at it, and hear a wooden thunk as the spears land. After the cave explodes, the now-charred statue comes to life, pursuing the trio all the way back to the Academy. It first attacks Iolaus, who was holding the chalice at the time, but is wrangled by Hercules. Treasure of Zeus ends with the phoenix flying away, Hercules dangling from a rope around its neck. Between Friends begins with the same scene and goes on to show Hercules managing to swing onto the Phoenix's back. Hercules breaks off one of the Phoenix's horns, and uses it to stab the Phoenix. The Phoenix explodes in a ball of flame and ash, sending Hercules and the chalice hurtling towards the ground.

Later, as Iolaus and Jason approach the cave to return the chalice:

Iolaus: It's dead, right? The Phoenix. It's not coming back?
Jason: What do you think? It's going to rise up out of the ashes and come back to life?