Anzu is a monstrous bird creature in Mesopotamian mythology. It was believed to have been born from the primordial waters known as Abzu, conceived by the pure waters and the wide Earth. This origin story highlights its connection to the elemental forces of nature.

He is often described as a lion-headed eagle, combining the regal ferocity of a lion with the soaring majesty of an eagle. This hybrid form symbolizes its dominion over both the land and the sky. Moreover, he is associated with thunderstorms and strong winds.

Myths featuring the Anzu bird

Anzu appears in several key myths. In the most famous narrative, the “Myth of Anzu and the Tablets of Destiny,” Anzu steals these tablets, which confer supreme power over the universe, from the god Enki. This act of theft sets off a crisis among the gods until the hero god Ninurta defeats Anzu and retrieves the tablets. This story not only highlights Anzu’s ambition and cunning but also its role as a disruptor of divine order.

In other myths, Anzu’s interactions with human characters reveal different aspects of its nature. For instance, in the Sumerian epic of Lugalbanda, Anzu bestows special powers on the king after Lugalbanda cares for its young. This act shows a more benevolent side of Anzu, capable of gratitude and rewarding good deeds.

Appearances in modern culture

Video games
  • World of Warcraft: Anzu features as a dread raven
  • Anzu: an indi game in which you can play Anzu as a guardian bird who heals a forest