Skip to main content
Select Source:

Enlil

Enlil

In the mythology of ancient Mesopotamia*, Enlil ("lord of the wind") was the storm god and the god of earth and air. He was one of a trio of major gods that included Anu and Ea, the gods of heaven and water. Enlil played an important role in creation, separating heaven from earth, causing seeds to grow on the land, and bringing order and harmony to the universe.

A complex deity who destroyed as well as created, Enlil appeared in many Mesopotamian myths. In one story he was sent to the underworld as punishment for raping the goddess Ninlil. She followed him there and gave birth to their son, the moon god Nanna. Because Nanna would die in the underworld, Enlil devised a scheme that allowed his son to escape and return to the heavens so that he could light up the night sky.

Another well-known myth revealed Enlil's destructive nature. According to this tale, the other gods rebelled against Enlil because he made them work too hard. As a solution, the gods decided to create humans to labor for them. This seemed fine for a while, but as the human population increased, their noise kept Enlil awake at night. Angered by this disruption, Enlil sent disease, drought, and a great flood to reduce the number of people on the earth.

deity god or goddess


underworld land of the dead

Enlil also appeared in stories in the role of preserver and creator. As the source of rain, he nourished fields and crops. He also introduced humans to the pickax and taught them how to use it to build cities. In some myths, Enlil was associated with agriculture, fertility, and the seasons.

See also Anu; Floods; Semitic Mythology.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Enlil." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Enlil." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/enlil

"Enlil." Myths and Legends of the World. . Retrieved April 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/enlil

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Enlil

Enlil (ĕnlĬl´), ancient earth god of Sumerian origin, worshiped in Babylonian religion. With the sky god Anu and the water god Ea, he formed the great divine triad. Enlil, also referred to as Bel, could be hostile or beneficent. He was responsible for the order and harmony in the universe, but as a god of storms and winds he brought terrible destruction.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Enlil." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Enlil." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enlil

"Enlil." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enlil

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.