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Ovid XV Chapter 10: 391-417 Pythagoras' Teachings:The Phoenix
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'Yet these creatures receive their start in life from others: there is one, a bird, which renews itself, and reproduces from itself. The Assyrians call it the phoenix. It does not live on seeds and herbs, but on drops of incense, and the sap of the cardamom plant. When it has lived for five centuries, it then builds a nest for itself in the topmost branches of a swaying palm-tree, using only its beak and talons. As soon as it has lined it with cassia bark, and smooth spikes of nard, cinnamon fragments and yellow myrrh, it settles on top, and ends its life among the perfumes. They say that, from the father's body, a young phoenix is reborn, destined to live the same number of years. When age has given it strength, and it can carry burdens, it lightens the branches of the tall palm of the heavy nest, and piously carries its own cradle, that was its father's tomb, and, reaching the city of Hyperion, the sun-god, through the clear air, lays it down in front of the sacred doors of Hyperion's temple. If there is anything to marvel at, however, in these novelties, we might marvel at how the hyena changes function, and a moment ago a female, taken from behind by a male, is now a male. Also that animal, the chameleon, fed by wind and air, instantly adopts the colour of whatever it touches. Vanquished India gave lynxes to Bacchus of the clustered vines, and, they say that, whatever their bladder emits, changes to stone, and solidifies on contact with air. So coral, also, hardens the first time air touches it: it was a soft plant under the waves.' 'Haec tamen ex aliis generis primordia ducunt,
una est, quae reparet seque ipsa reseminet, ales:
Assyrii phoenica vocant; non fruge neque herbis,
sed turis lacrimis et suco vivit amomi.
haec ubi quinque suae conplevit saecula vitae,
395
ilicet in ramis tremulaeque cacumine palmae
unguibus et puro nidum sibi construit ore,
quo simul ac casias et nardi lenis aristas
quassaque cum fulva substravit cinnama murra,
se super inponit finitque in odoribus aevum.
400
inde ferunt, totidem qui vivere debeat annos,
corpore de patrio parvum phoenica renasci;
cum dedit huic aetas vires, onerique ferendo est,
ponderibus nidi ramos levat arboris altae
fertque pius cunasque suas patriumque sepulcrum
405
perque leves auras Hyperionis urbe potitus
ante fores sacras Hyperionis aede reponit.
'Si tamen est aliquid mirae novitatis in istis,
alternare vices et, quae modo femina tergo
passa marem est, nunc esse marem miremur hyaenam;
410
id quoque, quod ventis animal nutritur et aura,
protinus adsimulat, tetigit quoscumque colores.
victa racemifero lyncas dedit India Baccho:
e quibus, ut memorant, quicquid vesica remisit,
vertitur in lapides et congelat aere tacto.
415
sic et curalium quo primum contigit auras
tempore, durescit: mollis fuit herba sub undis.