They stood at one end of Ashurnasirpal's throne room, facing the throne and guarding the entrance. These have the body of an lion (representing strength), the head of a man (representing intelligence), and the wings of an eagle (representing speed). The helmet with horns represents divinity. Notice that each has five legs, giving the appearance of four legs when viewed from different angles. The two front legs show it standing firm, while the four side legs show it striding forward against evil.
Written in cuneiform, between the legs is a short version of the “standard inscription of Ashurnasirpal”, listing the titles of the king, his ancestry and his achievements. An identical inscription is found on every wall panel in his palace, across the centre.
"The palace of Ashurnasirpal, the priest of Ashur, favourite of Enlil and Vinerta, beloved of Anu and Dagon, the weapon of the great gods, the mighty king, the king of the world, the king of Assyria ..., the valiant man who with the support of Ashur his lord, has no equal in the four regions of the world. The wonderful shepherd who is not afraid of battle. The Great Flood which no one can oppose. The king who has subjugated all mankind, the Mighty Warrior who treads on the neck of his enemies. The King whose word of his mouth destroys mountains and seas, who by his lord we attack, has made fearsome and merciless kings from the rising to the setting of the sun, all to acknowledge one rule."
The prophet Isaiah spoke out against this pride of Assyria, when he wrote
When the LORD has finished all his work on Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride. (Is 10:12)