Enlil (Ellil)

Enlil (Akkadian Ellil) was one of the most important deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon, even if his mythological origins are somewhat confused: occasionally, Enlil is said to be the son of An and brother to the goddess Aruru; sometimes, however, his descent is traced to Enki (not the god of the same name) and Ninki – “Lord and Lady Earth”.

Enlil’s wife was Ninlil (or Sud) and among the offspring of Enlil are the deities Inanna, Iškur, Nanna-Suen (Sin), Nergal, Ninurta / Ningirsu, Pabilsag, Nusku, Utu, Uraš, Zababa and Ennugi. The minister of Enlil was known as Nusku.

In Neo-Assyrian iconography Enlil was symbolised by a horned cap; astrologically, Enlil was associated with the constellation we know today as Boötes. Word images used to describe Enlil are as follows: king, supreme lord, father and creator, raging storm, wild bull and even “merchant”. The god is sometimes appellated Nunamnir.

The chief cult centre for Enlil was the great temple E.KUR (“mountain house”) at Nippur. Enlil, similarly, was often called the “Great Mountain” and “King of the Foreign Lands”, suggesting to some scholars a connection with the Zagros Mountains bordering Lower Mesopotamia to the north-east.

Select Bibliography

Behrens, H.

1978 Enlil und Ninlil: Ein sumerischer Mythos aus Nippur, Rome, 1978. (Reviewed: S. J. Cooper, JCS 32 (1980), pp.175-188.)

Civil, M.

1974-77 “Enlil and Namzitarra”, AfO 25 (1974-77), pp.65-71.

1983 “Enlil and Ninlil: The Marriage of Sud”, JAOS 103 (1983), pp.43-66.

Jacobsen, T.

1989 “The lil 2of dEn-lil 2”,  in Sjöberg AV, Philadelphia, 1989, pp. 267-276.

Lambert, W. G.

1989 “A New Interpretation of Enlil and Namzitarra”, Orientalia NS 58 (1989), pp.508-09.

Maul, S. T.

1998 “Marduk, Nabû und der assyrische Enlil: Die Geschichte eines sumerischen Íu®ilas,” in Borger AV, Cuneiform Monographs 10, Groningen, 1998, pp.159-197.

Selz, G.J.

1992 “Enlil und Nippur nach prasargonischen Quellen,” in M. DeJ. Ellis (ed.), Nippur at the Centennial, Philadelphia: University Museum, 1992, pp.189-225.

Michalowski, P.

1998 “The Unbearable Lightness of Enlil”, in Prosecky, Jiri (ed.), Intellectual Life of the Ancient Near East – Papers Presented at the 43rd Rencontre assyriologique internationale Prague, July 1-5, 1996, [RAI 43], Prague: Oriental Institute ASCR, 1998, pp. 237-247.


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