The modern phoenix comes from Latin phoenīx via Old English. The Latin word comes from Greek phoinīx. The Greek word is first attested in the Mycenaean Greekpo-ni-ke, which probably meant 'griffin', though it might have meant 'palm tree'. That word is probably a borrowing from a West Semitic word for madder, a red dye made from Rubia tinctorum. The word Phoenician appears to be from the same root, meaning 'those who work with red dyes'. So phoenix may mean 'the Phoenician bird' or 'the purplish-red bird'. The spellings phœnix and phenix are rare nowadays.
Egyptian origin hypothesis and the ''Bennu''
Classical discourse on the subject of the phoenix points to a potential origin of the phoenix in Ancient Egypt. Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, gives a somewhat skeptical account of the phoenix. For example: In the 19th century, scholastic suspicions appeared to be confirmed by the discovery that Egyptians in Heliopolis had venerated the Bennu, a solar bird similar in some respects to the Greek phoenix. However, the Egyptian sources regarding the bennu are often problematic and open to a variety of interpretations. Some of these sources may have actually been influenced by Greek notions of the phoenix, rather than the other way around.
The phoenix is sometimes pictured in ancient and medieval literature and medieval art as endowed with a halo, which emphasizes the bird's connection with the Sun. In the oldest images of phoenixes on record these nimbuses often have seven rays, like Helios. Pliny the Elder also describes the bird as having a crest of feathers on its head, and Ezekiel the Dramatist compared it to a rooster. Although the phoenix was generally believed to be colorful and vibrant, sources provide no clear consensus about its coloration. Tacitus says that its color made it stand out from all other birds. Some said that the bird had peacock-like coloring, and Herodotus's claim of the Phoenix being red and yellow is popular in many versions of the story on record. Ezekiel the Dramatist declared that the phoenix had red legs and striking yellow eyes, but Lactantius said that its eyes were blue like sapphires and that its legs were covered in yellow-gold scales with rose-colored talons. Herodotus, Pliny, Solinus, and Philostratus describe the phoenix as similar in size to an eagle, but Lactantius and Ezekiel the Dramatist both claim that the phoenix was larger, with Lactantius declaring that it was even larger than an ostrich.
The Old English Exeter Book contains an anonymous 677-line 9th-century alliterative poemconsisting of a paraphrase and abbreviation of Lactantius, followed by an explication of the Phoenix as an allegory for the resurrection of Christ. Dante refers to the phoenix in Inferno Canto XXIV: In the play Henry VIII by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, Archbishop Cranmer says in in reference to Elizabeth : Phoenixes are present and relatively common in European heraldry. They most often appear as crests, and more rarely as charges. The heraldic phoenix is depicted as the head, chest and wings of an eagle rising from a fire; the entire creature is never depicted.