The phrase rise like a phoenix from the ashes is based on a story that goes back thousands of years. The expression is a simile, which is a phrase used in a sentence that is a comparison of one thing with something else using the word like or the word as. A simile may compare two things with qualities that do not seem related, though there must be some similarity that is either literal or figurative. Writers use similes in prose and in poetry as literary devices used to paint vivid imagery. We will examine the meaning of the phrase rise like a phoenix from the ashes, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
To rise like a phoenix from the ashes means to emerge from a catastrophe stronger, smarter and more powerful. An example of rising like a phoenix from the ashes is someone who opens a new, successful business after his previous business has failed. Another example is someone who builds a new house after his previous house has been destroyed in a tornado. The phoenix bird is a mythical bird from Greek mythology. It was a feathered creature of great size with talons and wings, its plumage radiant and beautiful. The phoenix lived for 500 years before it built its own funeral pyre, burst into flame, and died, consumed in its own fiery inferno. Soon after, the mythical creature rose out of the ashes, in a transformation from death to life. This story of becoming born again predates the story of the phoenix rising from the ashes. A counterpart to the phoenix is the Bennu of Egyptian mythology, which was a large heron venerated in Heliopolis, Egypt. The fenghuang is a Chinese bird often depicted with fire balls. The feathers of the Russian firebird emit light, and is often the subject of quests in folklore. Christianity adopted the depiction of the phoenix rising from the ashes as a symbol of rebirth and eternal life. The classical, mythical imagery and symbolism of resurrection, of life reborn anew and transformed, resonated with the Christian story. The phrase rise like a phoenix from the ashes is often shortened to rise like a phoenix, or even rise from the ashes. Related phrases are rises like a phoenix from the ashes, rose like a phoenix from the ashes, risen like a phoenix from the ashes, rising like a phoenix from the ashes. Note that the word phoenix is spelled with a lowercase letter. When capitalized, as in Phoenix, the term is the name of a city in Arizona, United States.
“I love the way they chose to take care of themselves, that they didn’t fall into the grave and just die — that they made a choice that they were gonna rise like a phoenix from the ashes.” Continues Davis, “Maybe [it’s] not in a way that’s nice and pretty.” (Entertainment Weekly)
Limberakis also spoke of “the extraordinary labor of love that has enabled the Saint Nicholas Shrine to rise like a phoenix from the ashes at Ground Zero.” (The Hellenic New of America)
How China’s capitalist entrepreneurial spirit arose from the ashes of revolution (The South China Morning Post)