ANU, a Babylonian deity, who, by virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Bel and Ea, came to be regarded as the father and king of the gods.
Anu is so prominently associated with the city of Erech in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to have been the original seat of the Anu cult.
Before Khammurabi, Anu was regarded as the god of the heavens and his name became in fact synonymous with the heavens, so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god or the heavens is meant.
To Anu was assigned the control of the heavens, to Bel the earth, and to Ea the waters.
An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Erech (or some other centre), Bel as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.
The summingup of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Bel and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Bel and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.
In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Bel and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively.
The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made.
It seems clear that the trinity of Anu, Bel, and Ea in the old Babylonian religion has its counterpart in the Mandaean Pira, Ayar, and Mana rabba.
The goddess, enraged at the insult, asks her father Anu to avenge her.
Fought with Merodach-nadin-akhi (Marduk-nadin-akhe) of Babylon 418 years before the campaign of 689 B.C.; while, according to Tiglath-pileser I., the high-priest Samas-Hadad, son of IsmeDagon, built the temple of Anu and Hadad at Assur 701 years before his own time.
Adapa while fishing had broken the wings of the south wind, and was accordingly summoned before the tribunal of Anu in heaven.
The first gate, that of Anu, was successfully reached; but in ascending still farther to the gate of Ishtar the strength of the eagle gave way, and Etanna was dashed to the ground.
The first Babylonian month Nisan, dedicated to Anu and Bel, was that of " sacrifice "; and its association with the Ram as the chief primitive object of sacrifice is thus intelligible.'
Andrae, Der Anu Adad Tempel (1909).
Besides the temple of Assur there was another great temple dedicated to Anu and Hadad, as well as the smaller sanctuaries of Bel, Ishtar, Merodach and other deities.
Besides the chief temple, the capital contained temples and chapels to Anu, Adad, Ishtar, Marduk, Gula, Sin, Shamash, so that we are to assume the existence of a sacred precinct in Assur precisely as in the religious centres of the south.
There were, however, two deities who appear to have retained an independent existence - Anu, the god of heaven, and Ishtar, the great mother-goddess, who symbolized fertility and vitality in general.
There are some reasons for believing that the oldest seat, and possibly the original seat, of the Anu cult was in Erech, as it is there where the Ishtar cult that subsequently spread throughout Babylonia and Assyria took its rise.
While Anu, with whom there was associated as a pale reflection a consort Antum, assigned to him under the influence of the widely prevalent view among the early Semites which conceived of gods always in pairs, remained more or less of an abstraction during the various periods of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and taking little part in the active cult of the temples, his unique position as the chief god of the highest heavens was always recognized in the theological system developed by the priests, which found an expression in making him the first figure of a triad, consisting of Anu, Bel and Ea, among whom the priests divided the three divisions of the universe, the heavens, the earth with the atmosphere above it, and the watery expanse respectively.
By the side of the first triad, consisting of Anu, Bel and Ea - disconnected in this form entirely from all local associations - we encounter a second triad composed of Shamash, Sin and Ishtar.
As an illustration of the manner in which the doctrines of the religion were made to conform to the all-pervading astral theory, it will be sufficient to refer to the modification undergone in this process of the view developed in a very early period which apportioned the control of the universe among the three gods Anu, Bel and Ea.
Disassociating these gods from all local connexions, Anu became the power presiding over the heavens, to Bel was assigned the earth and the atmosphere immediately above it, while Ea ruled over the deep. With the transfer of all the gods to the heavens, and under the influence of the doctrine of the correspondence between the heavens and the earth, Anu, Bel and Ea became the three "ways" (as they are called) on the heavens.
The "ways" appear in this instance to have been the designation of the ecliptic circle, which was divided into three sections or zones - a northern, a middle and a southern zone, Anu being assigned to the first, Bel to the second, and Ea to the third zone.
Babylonian speculation embraced the world in a triad of divine powers, Anu the god of heaven, Bel of earth and Ea of the deep; and these became the symbols of the order of nature, the divine embodiments of physical law?
Our greatest Champion, Overman-Anu, once climbed the spiral stairway and fought nine days with the Gargoyles before he could escape them and come back; but he could never be induced to describe the dreadful creatures, and soon afterward a bear caught him and ate him up.