Anzû (mythology)

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Ninurta with his thunderbolts pursues Anzû stealing the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil's sanctuary (Austen Henry Layard Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd Series, 1853)

Anzû, before misread as (Sumerian: AN.ZUD2, AN.ZUD, AN.IM.DUGUD.MUŠEN; cuneiform: Cuneiforme Anzu.JPG an.zud.mušen), also known as Imdugud, is a lesser divinity or monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as son of the bird goddess Siris.[1] Both Anzû and Siris are seen as massive birds who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately seen as a lion-headed eagle (like a reverse griffin).

Anzû was a servant of the chief sky god Enlil, guard of the throne in Enlil's sanctuary, (possibly previously a symbol of Anu), from whom Anzû stole the Tablet of Destinies, so hoping to determine the fate of all things. In one version of the legend, the gods sent Lugalbanda to retrieve the tablets, who killed Anzû.[2] In another, Ea and Belet-Ili conceived Ninurta for the purpose of retrieving the tablets. In a third legend, found in The Hymn of Ashurbanipal, Marduk is said to have killed Anzû.

Mesopotamian myth[edit]

Alabaster votive relief of Ur-Nanshe, king of Lagash, showing Anzû as a lion-headed eagle, ca. 2550–2500 BC; found at Tell Telloh the ancient city of Girsu, (Louvre)

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, Anzû is a divine storm-bird and the personification of the southern wind and the thunder clouds.[3] This demon—half man and half bird—stole the "Tablets of Destiny" from Enlil and hid them on a mountaintop. Anu ordered the other gods to retrieve the tablets, even though they all feared the demon. According to one text, Marduk killed the bird; in another, it died through the arrows of the god Ninurta. The bird is also referred to as Imdugud.

Babylonian myth[edit]

In Babylonian myth, Anzû is a deity associated with cosmogeny. Anzû is represented as stripping the father of the gods of umsimi (which is usually translated "crown" but in this case, as it was on the seat of Bel, it refers to the "ideal creative organ").[4] "Ham is the Chaldean Anzû, and both are cursed for the same allegorically described crime," which parallels the mutilation of Uranus by Cronus and of Set by Horus.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Charles Penglase (4 October 2003). Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-203-44391-0. 
  2. ^ Stephanie Dalley (2000). Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-0-19-953836-2. 
  3. ^ Jean Bottéro (1994). L'Oriente antico. Dai sumeri alla Bibbia (in Italian). Edizioni Dedalo. pp. 246–256. ISBN 978882200535-9. 
  4. ^ George Smith (1878). The Chaldean Account of Genesis. Library of Alexandria. pp. 40–48. ISBN 9781465527141. 

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