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Anzû (mythology)


Anzû (mythology)

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, AN.IM.MI.MUŠEN; cuneiform: AN.IM.MI-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 Siris.[1] Anzû was seen as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately seen as a lion-headed eagle (like a reverse griffin).

Stephanie Dalley, in "Myths from Mesopotamia," writes that "The Epic of Anzu' is principally known in two versions: an Old Babylonian version of the early second millennium [BC], giving the hero as Ningursu; and "The Standard Babylonian" version, dating to the first millennium BC, which appears to be the most quoted version, with the hero as Ninurta. However, the Anzu character does appear more briefly in some other writings, as noted below.


  • Sumerian and Akkadian myth 1
  • Babylonian and Assyrian myth 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Sumerian and Akkadian myth

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.[2] This demon—half man and half bird—stole the "Tablet of Destinies" 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. [3]

Inscribed head of a mace with Imdugud (Anzu) and Enannatum, the British Museum, London.
Frieze of Imdugud (Anzu) grasping a pair of deer, from Tell Al-Ubaid.

Anzu appears in the Sumerian Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird (also called: The Return of Lugalbanda).

Anzu also appears in the story Inanna and the huluppu tree [4], which is part of the Akkadian story of Gilgamesh in the section called Gilgamec, Enkidu and the nether world.

Babylonian and Assyrian myth

The shorter Old Babylonian version was found at Susa. Full version in Dalley, page 222 and at The Epic of Anzû, Old Babylonian version from Susa, Tablet II, lines 1-83, read by Claus Wilcke

The longer Late Assyrian version from Nineveh is most commonly called "The Myth of Anzu." Full version in Dalley, page 205. An edited version is at Myth of Anzu.

Also in Babylonian myth, Anzû is a deity associated with [3] [4] Regarding this, Charles Penglase writes that "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


  1. ^ a b Charles Penglase (4 October 2003). Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. Taylor & Francis.  
  2. ^ Jean Bottéro (1994). L'Oriente antico. Dai sumeri alla Bibbia (in Italiano). Edizioni Dedalo. pp. 246–256.  
  3. ^  
  4. ^   "The Sin of the God Zu" at "Sacred Texts" website.

External links

  • Zu on Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Dalley, Stephanie, ed. (2000). "Anzû (pp. 203ff.)". Myths from Mesopotamia. Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others.  
  • The Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ: Anzû
  • ETCSL glossary showing Zu as the verb 'to know'
  • Myth of Anzu
  • Ninurta's return to Nibru: a šir-gida to Ninurta and The Return of Ninurta to Nippur
  • Ninurta and the Turtle and Ninurta and the Turtle, or Ninurta and Enki
  • Ninurta's exploits and The Exploits of Ninurta, or Lugal-e
  • Lugalbanda and the Anzud bird
  • The Epic of Anzû, Old Babylonian version from Susa, Tablet II, lines 1-83, read by Claus Wilcke
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