A mythological bird
from the Mesopotamian
tradition. The Akkadian
Anzu, and the Sumerian
equivalent is Anzud. The Sumerian
name is often mistaken to be Imdugud
. This results from the misreading of the cuneiform
signs, which for his name consist of AN and IMDUGUD. When combined, these form Anzud, not Imdugud
. However, this name persists in much of the scholarly work. Previously, his name was mistakenly read as simply Zu. Anzu, the son of Anu
, was a large bird with a lion’s head which lived in the northern mountains. He was so hideous that Enlil
placed him as a guardian in front of his cella.
Anzu is known from two popular stories, the story of the Tablet of Destinies and the story of Lugalbanda. In the story of the Tablet of Destinies, he is a greedy, evil bird, and is eventually slain by Ninurta or Ningirsu (depending on the version of the story). In the tale of Lugalbanda's journey through the mountains, Anzu appears as a loving, forgiving father taking care of his fledgling. This stark personality reversal exemplifies the constantly shifting nature of the Mesopotamian pantheon. In Mesopotamian art, a lion headed eagle, most likely Anzu, is used to symbolically represent Ninurta.