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Mesopotamia / Religions / Gods and goddesses /

Relief from Susa.Enlil to the left, Ninlil to the right.

Relief from Susa. Enlil to the left, Ninlil to the right.

In Mesopotamian religions, goddess of destiny, and the one that shows compassion to the unfortunate. In Sumerian religion she was goddess of the grain. Her name can be translated with Lady of the Open Field or Lady of the Air.
Ninlil belonged to Sumerian, and Babylonian religions. In Akkadian religion, she was known as Belit, while Assyrian religion named her Mullitu.
Her earliest recorded name was Sud, as part of early Sumerian religion.
Her consort was Enlil, the god of the atmosphere, and together they had several children, in particular the moon god Nanna/Sin and death god Nergal. Together they were among the most important families of the Mesopotamian pantheon.
In most myths her father was Haia and her mother was Ninshebargunu. Other myths made her father Anu/An and mother Nammu.
Her oldest known name was Sud, the name Ninlil was given to her by her husband, Enlil, who with that expressed his love for her. In Akkadian religion, her name changed into Belit, and she was often identified with Ishtar, and could be made wife of Ashur, although there were myths where she remained wife of Enlil. In Assyrian religion her name became Mullitu.
Her main cult centres were Nippur and Shuruppak, where she was worshipped together with Enlil.
In her central myth, she is raped by her husband, Enlil, after he had seen her bathing naked. Enlil was severely punished for this, being banished to the underworld, but Ninlil voluntarily joined him on this journey. During this punishment, Enlil would simply go on raping Ninlil three times more, each single time making her pregnant. After this, the two strange lovers would return to the earth. The myth relates to fertility of plants where pollination happens without consent. The offspring of the first rape was Nanna/Sin, the offspring of the rapes in the underworld were Nergal, Ninazu and Enbilulu.

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By Tore Kjeilen