Mesopotamian God Enlil: Mythology & Symbols

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Famers, sailors and kings all have one god to thanks, Enlil. Well, if you're a believer in ancient Mesopotamian gods anyways. Find out more about Enlil in this lesson.


Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization. Its people were highly dependent on two famous rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. Today, the modern nations of Syria, Iraq and Turkey occupy what was once Mesopotamia. This region's ancient people, like the Assyrians and Babylonians, were polytheistic. In other words, they worshiped many gods. These gods controlled things like the weather, natural disasters, and crop production among other things. No pressure to keep these gods happy, right? Once of those gods was Enlil, the god of rain and wind.

The Wind

Who was Enlil? Think about the two-sided nature of wind. On the one hand, we all enjoy a nice cool breeze on a hot day. On the other hand, no one likes a storm toppling them or their house over. Let's read a little bit more about Enlil in this lesson.

Names & Relationships

Enlil is the Sumerian name for Ellil, which is the name's Akkadian equivalent. He is sometimes known as Nunamnir.

Enlil was one of the most important gods in the ancient Mesopotamian pantheon. He might be the child of the god An and he is the brother of a goddess called Aruru. He is descended from Enki ('Lord Earth') and Ninki ('Lady Earth'). Make sure you don't mistake this Enki with the very important god of Enki (Ea), they're not the same.

Enlil's wife was a grain goddess called Ninlil (Sud). His offspring include Adad (Iskur), Ennugi. Inana, Nannasuen, Nergal, Ninurta (Ningirsu), Nusku (who is also Enlil's minister), Pabilsag, Utu (Samas), Uras, and Zababa.

Enlil's name basically signifies 'Lord Wind' and his wife's, Ninlil, that of 'Lady Wind'. However, he is sometimes known as 'King of Foreign Lands' and the 'Great Mountain'. The latter is connected to the fact that the cult of Enlil was located at a temple called E-kur, the 'Mountain House'. This was located at Nippur.

Mythology & Symbolism

Originally, Enlil held the Tablets of Destiny, which gave him immense power and authority. On these tablets, the fates of both mortals and gods were outlined. He was thus seen as the 'decreer of fates'. Enlil was so powerful that he could grant kingship to a ruler. His decisions, whatever they may have been, were usually final.

In his role as 'Lord Wind', Enlil was seen as the moist wind of spring but also the wind of a destructive storms. He was thus seen as a god with a two-sided nature and was referred to as the 'East Wind' and 'North Wind' in one text. Enlil also created the hoe, the tool used in farming.

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