Bartholomew The Englishman

On the Phoenix

Introduction by Juris Lidaka

Bartholomew says: "The phoenix is said to be a unique bird, alone in the whole world, so that common people marvel at it. Therefore among the Arabs, the place where a phoenix is born is said to be singular, as Isidore [Etymologies 14.3] says. About this bird the Philosopher says that the phoenix is a bird without equal, living 300 or 500 years; and when these are completed, when it feels its weakness, it makes a nest from very dry aromatic branches. When the west wind blows in summertime, they catch fire from the heat of the sun, and when they are lit, [the phoenix] enters the nest of his own free will, and is incinerated among the burning branches. From these ashes, after three days, a little worm is born, that acquires feathers little by little and is transformed into a bird. Ambrose says the same thing in the Hexameron [5.23] X: [the worm] rises anew from the moisture and ash of the phoenix, and gradually it grows up, and with the passing of time its wings row in and it reemerges in the likeness of a bird."

Original Latin