Enlil  

Posted by Stella Clark

Enlil Cover
Enlil (nlin), (EN = Lord + LIL = Loft, "Lord of the Open" or "Lord of the Wind") was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as Ellil in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. Enlil was considered to be the god of breath, wind, loft, and breadth.

In Sumerian mythology, Enlil (Bel) is a powerful creator god who is exiled to the underworld for raping Ninlil, a young virgin. Enlil had been the lord of heaven and earth and was ruler of the seas, the winds and all living creatures, but he had been tempted by a beautiful maiden bathing in the enchanted waters of a clear river. The girl's mother, the goddess Nunbarshegunu, had hoped Enlil would see the girl and want her for his bride. But when Enlil beholds the naked beauty, he is overcome with desire and seizes the girl. Ninlil begs him not to molest her, telling him she is a virgin. Enlil ignores her pleas and rapes her on the riverbank, impregnating her with his son.

Upon learning what has happened, the outraged Nunbarshegunu demands that her daughter's honor be avenged. She and the other deities force Enlil into the underworld as punishment for his cruelty. In some legends, Ninlil joins him in the abyss and gives birth to his child, Sin, god of the moon.

Enlil is the master of heaven and creator of all living things according to Akkadian/Sumerian mythology. Ancient legend tells that Enlil, god of wind and storms, and fellow deity An, lord of the sky, routinely met to decide the fate of human beings. Over time, Enlil began absorbing An's importance and eventually became supreme. he then had exclusive power over fate in this world and the next.

Some legends claim that Enlil once lived in paradise but decided he would prefer life in the material world. He descended to the earth and took up residence with his creatures. This blissful existence ceased, however, when the god became infatuated with a young girl named Ninlil whom he saw bathing in a stream. Overcome by her beauty and by his lust, Enlil raped the girl. The other gods, hearing of his vile deed, forced Enlil into the underworld and forbade him from ever returning to heaven or earth. (In some versions, Ninlil joins him there after discovering that she is soon to bear his child.)

The ancient Sumerians feared Enlil's ability to bring devastating storms and held frequent rituals to appease the god and beg for his divine protection. At his temple in the city of Nippur, worshipers chanted their belief that his domain of heaven was integrally connected to the land of the living. One pray states: "Without lord Enlil, the great mountain, no cities would be raised....no high priest born....The birds of Heaven would not nest on the wide earth."

After the Babylonian conquest, both An and Enlil were supplanted by MARDUK, the chief of the Babylonian pantheon. Enlil is also mentioned as the afterlife guardian in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient poem about the exploits of a great cultural hero.

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This entry was posted on 18 December 2008 at Thursday, December 18, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .

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