Mesopotamian Mythology

The Ancient Gods of Sumer and Babylon...

NINURTA

Sumerian Agriculture God

Eagle God of War and Irrigation – or possibly Irritation

The son of Enlil and Ninhursaga, he started off as an eagle and then asked his mum for a lion’s head. But this made him aggressively unruly, so she left his wings and gave him a humanoid body. It didn’t do any good. What he liked was playing with thunderbolts and shouting war cries and smashing and killing anything he felt like.

Realizing he was out of control, his mother took to hurling rocks at him. These were living things at the time, but it was still no good. Ninurta pounded them into submission and his mother was so disappointed that she took life away from them. A few of the stones had refused to be used as missiles, so Ninurta turned them into precious stones and jewels just to highlight how mean he could be.

One eventful day, the incredibly precious Tablet of Destinies was stolen by Anzû the storm bird. He didn’t know quite how to extract the knowledge and was trying to hatch them up in his mountaintop aerie. The Gods thought Ninurta’s bully boy tactics could at last be put to good use. Happily singing ‘Bring On The Clouds’ at the top of his unmusical voice, he flew up to Anzû’s domain firing off thunderbolts.

This had no effect at all. Anzû had built the Tablets into a protective shield around his nest, and apart from a slight chipping and scarring, the thunderbolts and storm lashings could not inflict any lasting damage.

Baffled, Ninurta rushed back to dad for advice and was told for once in his life to try and use his brains and a bit of Godly cunning. So Ninurta sat and thought until his brain hurt so much that even he didn’t want any loud noises. And then he had an idea...

He crept up on Anzû and cast his thickest and darkest clouds over the nest. The mighty bird was baffled and couldn’t see his beak in front of his face. As he peered helplessly into the gloom, Ninurta screamed with delight and stormed the storm bird. He hacked off its head and wings and felt himself again.

Ninurta took the tablets safely back to Enki. Then it entered his thick skull that he could have kept them for himself. He tried to steal them but at long last the silly old God had taken security precautions. The Tablets were now kept in a trap containing a monster turtle, which Ninurta crashed straight into after an unexpected shove from Enki.

The turtle pinned him down and Ninurta had to cry for his mum to come and save his life by pleading with Enki. He promised never to be naughty again — leaving us with nothing to write about. The End.

Actually, not quite. He was also a part-time City God under the name Ninĝirsu.

Ninurta Facts and Figures

Name: Ninurta
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names:

Gender: Male
Type: God
Area or people: Akkadia
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Agriculture and Farming
Area of expertise: Agriculture, Farming

Good/Evil Rating: Unknown at present
Popularity index: 153

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Article last revised on May 24, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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