“Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year” –Dante
The mythological creature, the Phoenix, rises gloriously from its ashes after its death. Throughout the ages it has often been associated with the sun, and symbolizes renewal and resurrection; and is a wonderful representation of the concept of reincarnation.
It is also an apt metaphor for civilization, or indeed a people. When a society is in decline it builds up its own funeral pyre, rests on top of it, is disintegrated in the fire and is reduced to a pile of ashes; but from these ashes rises another civilization in its place, more overwhelming in its splendor than anything seen before by man.
Out of the ashes of a decadent, corrupt and nihilistic age will rise a better, more resilliant and stronger age. Alas, the decline is inevitable, but only temporary.