Enlil

Enlil, lord wind, Mesopotamian (Sumerian) [Iraq], is god of the air. He was worship from 3500 BC, or before, to about 1750 BC. The son of primordial An and Ki, Enlili was the tutelary deity of Nippur where, in his honor, the Ehur sanctuary was built, not rediscovered, and he became the most important god of southern Mesopotamia during the third millennium BC.

His consort was Ninlil who was impregnated by the «waters of Emlil» to give birth to the moon god Nanna. (In the Akkadian pantheon his consort becomes Mulliltu.) He is depicted in a horned headdress and a tiered skirt, or by a horned crown on a pedestal.

According to the Hymn to Enlil, he works alone and unaided. He is said to have made the pickax, «caused the good to come forth,» and «brought forth seed from the earth.» He was invoked to bless his cities to ensure prosperity and abundance.

So great was his importance that other tutelary deities were said to have traveled to Nippur to give Enlil offerings. Enlil created several deities concerned with the overseeing of the natural world. In his destructive aspect, he permitted the birth goddess to kill at birth and was responsibility for miscarriages in cows and ewes.

His believers saw him manifest himself in both benevolence and destructive violence. His natural status was gradually decreased in the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheons, being superseded by Marduk and Assur.

 

Enlil God

Enlil, known as the «Lord of the Wind,» is a prominent deity in Sumerian mythology and one of the key figures in the Mesopotamian pantheon. His role and attributes highlight the complex and rich nature of ancient Mesopotamian religious beliefs.

 

Nature and Worship

  • God of Air: Enlil is primarily recognized as the god of the air, embodying the aspects of the atmosphere and sky.
  • Worship Period: His worship dates back to around 3500 BC or earlier and continued until about 1750 BC, marking him as one of the most enduring deities in Mesopotamian history.

 

Family and Consort

  • Son of An and Ki: Enlil is the son of An (the sky god) and Ki (the earth goddess), placing him at the center of the Sumerian divine family.
  • Consorts: His primary consort is Ninlil, who bore him Nanna, the moon god. In the Akkadian pantheon, his consort is Mulliltu.

 

Iconography and Representation

  • Depiction: Enlil is often depicted wearing a horned headdress and a tiered skirt, or as a horned crown on a pedestal, symbols of divinity and authority in Mesopotamian art.

 

Role and Attributes

  • Tutelary Deity of Nippur: As the patron god of Nippur, Enlil held a central position in southern Mesopotamian religion, especially during the third millennium BC. The Ehursag (Ehur sanctuary) in Nippur was a major center of his worship.
  • Creator and Protector: Enlil is credited with creating tools like the pickax, bringing forth agriculture, and ensuring the prosperity and abundance of his cities.

 

Importance and Influence

  • Central Figure: Enlil’s significance was such that other deities were said to bring him offerings in Nippur, emphasizing his status as a preeminent god.
  • Creator of Deities: He is attributed with creating several deities responsible for overseeing various aspects of the natural world.

 

Dual Nature

  • Benevolence and Destructiveness: Enlil embodied both benevolent and destructive aspects. He could bring forth life and prosperity but also had the power to cause death and destruction, such as miscarriages in animals.
  • Manifestations: His followers saw him as manifesting both benevolent care and violent, destructive force, reflecting the dual nature of the natural world.

 

Evolution in Mesopotamian Religion

  • Decreased Status: Over time, particularly in the Babylonian and Assyrian periods, Enlil’s prominence was somewhat diminished as gods like Marduk (in Babylon) and Assur (in Assyria) rose to preeminence.

 

 


Source:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 76-77