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Phoenix in Populare Culture


The Phoenix is the official mascot of the University of Chicago. An earlier institution by the same name had been founded (on a different site) by Stephen Douglas in 1859, but closed by 1889; the phoenix was chosen as a mascot of the new university to symbolize its rise from the ashes of the old.

It is also the symbol for Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the United States largest fraternity. It signifies the rebirth of the Fraternity after the Civil War.


The early Christian Apostolic Father 1 Clement references the Phoenix.

In certain works of Renaissance literature, the phoenix is said to have been eaten as the rarest of dishes – for only one was alive at any one time. Jonson, in Volpone (1605), III, vii. 204-5 writes: 'could we get the phœnix, though nature lost her kind, shee were our dish.' Another mention of the phoenix as a culinary delicacy occurs in John Webster's The White Devil (1612):

"Those noblemen, / Which were invited to your prodigal feasts, / Wherein the phoenix scarce could scrape your throats, / Laugh at your misery, as fore-deeming you / An idle meteor which drawn forth the earth / Would be lost in the air." [Act I, scene i, 23-25]

Some literary critics believe the conclusion of Andrew Marvell's 1681 poem "To His Coy Mistress" may allude to the Phoenix, given its references to birds and fire.

Sylvia Townsend Warner's 1940 short story "The Phoenix" satirized the exploitation of nature using a phoenix maltreated in a carnival sideshow, revealing the modern preference for violence and sensationalism over beauty and dignity.

The majesty of Eudora Welty's classic 1941 short story "A Worn Path" employs the phoenix as the name of the major and virtually sole character of a sparsely written yet rich story of regeneration and the South.

Phuong, the name of a female character in Graham Greene's _The Quiet American_ who seeks a marriage to a Westerner, means "Phoenix."

The phoenix was also famed for being a symbol of the rise and fall of society, Montag and Faber in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. The pattern of an over complacent and abusive society's destruction yielding a fresh new start was compared to the Phoenix's mythological pattern of consumption by flame, then resurrection out of ashes.

More recently, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels feature a phoenix, named Fawkes (after Guy Fawkes). He is Dumbledore's pet. Dumbledore's Patronus is a phoenix. The life span of this bird is unknown, though it is less than 500 years. In Harry Potter's world, phoenixes can carry enormous weights, their tears have extraordinary healing powers and their song is said to strike fear into the hearts of the unpure and courage into those who are pure of heart. The wizards' wands in this world all have a magical element (i.e. a phoenix feather, a unicorn hair, dragon heartstring) at their core (surrounded by wood). Both Harry's and Lord Voldemort's wands contain a feather from Dumbledore's pet phoenix, Fawkes, hence why they locked in Priori Incantatem when the two characters attempted to engage in a magical battle.

In Neil Gaiman's short story 'Firebird', a party of Epicureans finally answer the question of what happens when a Phoenix is roasted and eaten; you burst into flames, and 'the years burn off you'. This can kill those who are unexperienced, but those who have swallowed fire and practised with glow-worms can achieve an immensely satisfying eternal youth.

Sylvia Plath also alludes to the phoenix in the end of her famous poem "Lady Lazarus." The speaker of this poem describes her unsuccessful attempts at committing suicide not as failures, but as successful resurrections, like those described in the tales of the biblical character Lazarus and the Phoenix. By the end of the poem, the speaker has transformed into a firebird, effectively marking her rebirth, which some critics liken to a demonic transformation. The poem ends: "Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air."


Transsylvania Phoenix is the name of a Romanian rock band with folkloric lyrics.

Phoenix is the name of a French pop band that performs songs in the Japanese language.

La Fenice ("The Phoenix") is a famous Opera house in Venice, Italy. Also Stratovarius has a song named Phoenix.

Bassist Dave Farrell of Linkin Park is also known as Phoenix.

"phoenix with a heartache" is a song by Kids in the Way

Rock group 30 Seconds to Mars's official logo is the phoenix.

A group called "Headhunters" sing a cletic song called Phoenix.


Queen's logo has a picture of a Phoenix on the top part. The logo was designed by their singer, Freddie Mercury.

In the canon of comic author Osamu Tezuka the phoenix is often featured as both a literal and symbolic character. Most prominently in the 12 volume series Hi no Tori in which the phoenix is an all knowing cosmic force which connects the string of cultural, physical, and spiritual deaths, rebirths, reincarnations and transmigrations throughout the series.

The X-Men comics' most famous and successful story arc featured the fabled Phoenix Force merging with the dying X-Men mutant Jean Grey in order to pilot a shuttle down from space. Through Jean's empathic abilities and highly-tuned senses the sentient Phoenix experienced incredible sensations and emotions never before felt, this caused it to became corrupt and refuse to leave Jean's body. This heralded the Dark Phoenix saga which saw the X-men battling the nearly limitless power of the Phoenix force. It led to Jean Grey sacrificing herself to save the world from destruction. Although not truly a Phoenix, Jean Grey symbolized the essence of a Phoenix when she rose from the ashes, or the dead, later on in the comics. The Phoenix Force later merged with Jean Grey's daughter (from an alternate future), Rachel Summers, who also died and later came back to life.

In the classic anime franchise, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the most spectacular power the superhero has is the ability to temporarily transform their aircraft, The God Phoenix in a massive phoenix like bird of flame to escape danger.

Sculptor Theodore Roszak used the phoenix as inspiration for his 1958 "Night Flight."

Phoenix trams in Brisbane, Australia

Following a disastrous fire that destroyed the paddington tram depot in 1962, the Brisbane City Council rebuilt eight trams from the wreckage of the trams burnt in the fire. These trams featured a small picture of a phoenix underneath the motorman's windows, to signify that these trams had "risen from the ashes".

Film and TV

In the daytime soap opera Dark Shadows, the character of Laura Murdoch Collins returns to Collinsport, Maine after a ten-year absence to gain custody of her son from her estranged husband, Roger. It is revealed that Laura is an "immortal phoenix" in human form and is nearly at the end of her 100-year lifespan, as she is granted in this storyline. To make a successful completion of the reincarnation process, she must bring another person - her son - into the fire with her. The character of Laura the phoenix is reincarnated a few times into the plotlines of the show, with later episodes showing her to be a worshipper of the god Ra, which may explain the lack of survivors of those she brings into the fire with her, reframing her victims as a divine sacrifice for favor and power rather than as companions for eternity.

In the Star Trek universe, Phoenix is the name given to the first man-made spacecraft to travel faster than light. It is named Phoenix because in the Star Trek timeline, the Earth was still recovering from the ravages of World War Three, and represents a reborn and bright future for humanity.

In the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, a phoenix bursts into flame and flies low over the grass in front of the White Witch's lines, to make a wall of flame to guard Peter's retreat to safer ground.

In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, one of the more popular cards is called Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys, and has what is fundamentally a phoenix-like "rebirth" power-whenever it is destroyed by some sort of card effect, it is revived from the Graveyard (discard pile). It is worth noting that Nephthys is an Egyptian goddess, drawing on the Egyptian symbolism and theme of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.

Also in Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Egyptian God card, The Winged Dragon of Ra, has the power to transform into a Phoenix. In its Phoenix form, Ra can destroy all enemy monsters at the cost of 1000 Life Points. However, this power can only be used if Ra is first revived from the Graveyard.

In the Harry Potter series of books and movies, Albus Dumbledore has a phoenix as a pet.

In Power Rangers Mystic Force, There is a red mystic zord form of the red ranger.

In the X-Men series, the character Jean Grey, who was thought to have perished, eventually resurfaces as the new character Phoenix. In the film series, the second movie ends with Jean Grey's apparent death, followed by the third film resurrecting her as Phoenix. Note that in the end of the second movie, a bird-like shadow is seen underwater when Jean Grey supposedly dies, giving any X-Men fan a sign of what's to come.

Video games

In the Final Fantasy series, the Phoenix appears as a summon in Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Final Fantasy IX. Unlike most summons in the series, obtaining the Phoenix summon usually ties into the game's story in some way. In Final Fantasy V, the player can do a side-quest in which he or she finds King Tycoon's wyvern at the top of Phoenix Tower, barely alive. The Wyvern proceeds to sacrifice himself to Reina, King Tycoon's daughter, by diving from the tower and as he plummets toward the bottom, a phoenix rises up out of his body and grants the group his aide as a summon. In Final Fantasy VI, the character Locke, a noble thief, attempts to revive his long-lost lover Rachel, who he lost when she fell to her death in the chasm of a cave, by using the magicite in Phoenix Cave, which is said to possess the essence of the legendary bird. The Phoenix is a legendary bird but only one lived at a time. When it was about to die (it knew when it was about to) it would build a fire and kill itself but a new younger Phoenix would be born. The feathers (down) of the Phoenix is a common product in general stores and can be used to revive dead or mortally wounded party members.

A phoenix plays an important role in Sega's game Shining Force II.

In the Protoss Campaign found in StarCraft, a main hero figure is known as Fenix. Though the spelling is different, there is a point in the storyline where as a fiery, passionate personality, he is killed in battle, but then comes back to life, thus creating the same kind of image.

The phoenix can also be summoned in Warcraft III, where it burns itself over time, but is continuously reborn from an egg that it leaves behind at death.

A Phoenix, and its not-as-powerful downgrade 'Firebird,' can be recruited in the Conflux castle of Heroes of Might and Magic III (complete with upgrades). The Conflux castle is full of elementals of various types, such as earth, fire, air and water; it is reliant on magic during battle and its most powerful creature is... the Phoenix. The Phoenix actually has it's own unique ability that no other creature has in HoMM, quite fittingly, it rebirths a small number of Phoenix when it dies in battle.

In Golden Sun: The Lost Age a phoenix is a later rather hard monster that is encountered later in the game. It does not have rebirthing abilities (though it can revive other phoenixes) but does have some powerful fire attacks.

In Age of Mythology and its expansion pack, a phoenix is a myth unit. When it is killed, an egg is laid from which a new phoenix can be hatched.

Phoenix was one of the characters in the 1980s computer game Archon, originally released for Atari but later ported for various other platforms, including Apple II, Commodore 64, Amiga and IBM PC.

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