Early humans were very interested in birds and attributed magic and religious powers to them. The connection between birds and death that humans have imagined since prehistoric times still persists strongly in some modern folklore. Somehow later birds were regarded as weather changers and forecasters. Birds symbolized the mysterious powers that pervaded the wilderness in which humans hungered, hunted, and dreamt. It is not surprising that many mythological creatures, such as thunderbird, phoenix, and roc, take the form of birds.
"In ancient Egypt and in classical antiquity, the phoenix was a fabulous bird associated with the worship of the sun. The phoenix was said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry. The phoenix was very long-lived (no ancient writer gave it a life span of less than 500 years). As its death approached, the phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs and spices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames. From the pyre miraculously sprang a new phoenix, which, after embalming its predecessor's ashes in an egg of myrrh, flew with the ashes to the City of the Sun, in Egypt, where it deposited them on the altar in the temple of the Egyptian god of the sun. The phoenix was then associated with immortality and the allegory of resurrection and life after death."
A person who went really down in his/her life and manage to resurect from his/her nearly "death" is someone that I compare to a phoenix. I give a great esteem to those people who perdure the symbol of the phoenix. I met few "phoenix" so far, two in Finland to whom I especially give a deep respect.