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For other uses, see Autolycus (disambiguation).

In Greek mythology, Autolycus (/ɔːˈtɒlɪkəs/; Greek: Αὐτόλυκος Autolykos, "The Wolf Itself", or, very wolf [1]) was a son of the Olympian god Hermes and Chione. He was the husband of Neaera,[2] or according to Homer,[3] of Amphithea. Autolycus fathered Anticlea (who married Laertes of Ithaca and was the mother of Odysseus) and several sons, of whom only Aesimus is named.

Life and major events[edit]

Autolycus was born the son of Hermes [4] and Chione [5] or Philonis.[6] He had a helmet to make him invisible.

Autolycus was conceived after Hermes had intercourse with the virgin Chione (Ovid 11). [7]

Pausanias states that Autolycus' real father was Daedalion (Pausanias 8. 4. 6.). [8]

Autolycus was husband to Mestra, daughter of Erysichthon (Ovid 8. 738) [9] (who could change her shape at will), or to Neaera (Pausanias 8. 4. 3), or to Amphithea (Homer, Odyssey, 19. 394). He became the father of Anticlea and Polymede, of whom the latter was the mother of Jason, the famous Argonaut who led a group of men to find the coveted Golden Fleece (Apollodorus 1.9.16). A different Autolycus, the son of Deimachus, was a part of the Argonauts who went on the journey to find the fleece.

Through Anticleia, Autolycus was also the grandfather of the famous warrior Odysseus (Homer 24.330), and he was responsible for the naming of the child as well. This happened when the nurse of the child Eurycleia "laid the child upon his knees and spoke, and addressed him: Autolycus, find now thyself a name to give to thy child's own child; be sure he has long been prayed for" (Homer 19.386-403).

Autolycus obtained most of the same skills that his supposed father Hermes possesses, such as the art of theft, trickery (Hyginus 201), and skill with the lyre and gracious song (Ovid 11. 301). It was said that he "loved to make white of black, and black of white, from a hornless animal to a horned one, or from horned one to a hornless" (Hyginus 201). He was given the gift that his thievery could not be caught by anyone (Hyginus 201).

He put his skills to the test when he stole the helmet of the great warrior and his grandson, Odysseus, "he had broken into the stout-built house of Amyntor, son of Ormenus; and he gave it to Amphidamas of Cythera to take to Scandeia, and Amphidamas gave it to Molus as a guest-gift, but he gave it to his own son Meriones to wear; and now, being set thereon, it covered the head of Odysseus" (Homer 10.254 I). Autolycus, master of thievery, was also well known for stealing Sisyphus' herd right from underneath him. Sisyphus, who was commonly known for being a crafty king that killed guests, seduced his niece and stole his brothers' throne (Hyginus 50-99) and was banished to the throes of Tartarus by the gods.

Heracles, the great Greek hero, was taught the art of wrestling by Autolycus (Apollodorus 2.4.9). However, Autolycus was a source of some controversy in Heracles' life, because Autolycus stole some cattle from Euboea and Eurytus, who accused Heracles of the deed and, upon his going mad about these accusations, Heracles killed them plus another one of Autolycus' sons, Iphitus. This led to Heracles serving three years of punishment for the deed to repent for this (Apollodorus 2.6.3).

Cultural references[edit]

Although not as well known as many other Greek mythological figures, Autolycus has appeared in a number of works of fiction.

  • A comic thief in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale boasts that he is named after Autolycus and, like the latter's father, Mercury/Hermes, is "a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles".
  • Autolycus is the name of Debbie Aldridge's horse in the BBC Radio 4 series The Archers.
  • Autolycus is the name of a midget submarine owned by the Lost Boys, the thieves of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series of books.
  • Autolycus appears in an episode of the Canadian television series Class of the Titans episode "Bad Blood" voiced by Joseph May. He was hired by Cronus to steal Hercules's last surviving arrow.
  • The superhero/trickster figure of Uncle Sam in Robert Coover's The Public Burning (1977, New York, Grove Books) is described in the following terms (p. 7): "American Autolycus, they called him in the Gospels, referring to his cunning powers of conjuration, transmutation, and magical consumption (he can play the shell game, not with a mere pea, but with whole tin mines, forests, oil fields, mountain ranges, and just before Thanksgiving this past year made an entire island disappear!)”.
  • In the game Age of Empires Online, there's an army of computer-controlled opponents, who call themselves the Followers of Autolycus, must be defeated during several quests of the Greek civilization.


  1. ^ KJ Gutzwiller (associate professor of classics at the University of Cincinnati c.1991) -. Theocritus' Pastoral Analogies: The Formation of a Genre (p.37). Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1991 ISBN 0299129446. Retrieved 2015-04-12. (ed. < very wolf >)
  2. ^ Pausanias viii. 4. § 3 (cited in Smith)
  3. ^ Odyssey xix. 394, &c. (cited in Smith)
  4. ^ Bibliotheca, Library 1.9.16
  5. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 201
  6. ^ Catalogue of Women fr. 64.
  7. ^ Ovid - Metamorphoses - Book the Eleventh : The Transformation of Daedalion Translated by Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al (MIT) [Retrieved 2015-04-12](ed. < ... unresisted revels in her arms ... >)
  8. ^ Pausanias - Pausanias's Description of Greece (p.lix) translated by J G Frazer Cambridge University Press, 10 May 2012 ISBN 1108047238 [Retrieved 2015-04-12]
  9. ^ I Ziogas (Lecturer in Classics at the Australian National University, Canberra) - Ovid and Hesiod: The Metamorphosis of the Catalogue of Women (p.136) Cambridge University Press, 11 Apr 2013 ISBN 1107007410 [Retrieved 2015-04-12](ed. the author (I Ziogas) states a detail of Ovid 8. 738, < Mestra is not actually mentioned by name in Ovid 8. 738 >)
  10. ^ Murray, Nicholas, biography on Aldous Huxley 2002.


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autolycus — Please support Wikipedia.
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1509 videos foundNext > 


Autolycus, King of Thieves

Because there just aren't enough vids of Bruce Campbell as Auto!

Bruce Campbell Little Goody Two Shoes

Little Goody Two Shoes routine from both TV series Hercules (Bruce as Autolycus) and the movie Evil Dead: Army of Darkness (Bruce as Ash). Pretty fun how little gags like these end up in...

Autolycus - Smooth Criminal

I've been sitting on this video for a while; I think its about time I finally uploaded it =) No copyright infringement intended.

Autolycus 1

The first of three extracts from Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale' featuring the thief, con-man, and master of disguise, Autolycus.

Autolycus - I need a hero

Another one of my fav TV caracters... )) Autolycus from "Hercules adventures" )

Autolycus Monologue

"Winter's Tale" Act IV, scene iii.

Autolycus Linea Astrolite

128 Led´s proyectando al ritmo de la música, con cambio de colores, luz estroboscópica, brillantes rayos disparando desde sus 8 lentes, - 4 x RGBW alto MCD 4 en 1 LED 8W - DMX 512, Sonido...

Autolycus, The King Of Thieves ~ Classico

Ok this is a totally random video made for one of my friends. Now it's weird humor it was either this or Monty Pythons Sit on My Face I picked this one. You have been warned. I hope you like it Hera.

Autolycus and Joxer's [Bromance]

http://www.aimini.net/view/?fid=TcVNhFjtkr7SsUoyAvT2 [Guys, please just play the vid with this audio-- I've uploadded it twice, and it's not coming up with any audio. T^T] I swear on my life...

1509 videos foundNext > 

758 news items

The Banner Newspaper
Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:30:00 -0700

Although characters and lines did not change, the portrayal of one character did, Autolycus in particular. In the original play, Autolycus is an old man who is a thief and a con artist. In this play, Autolycus, played by Steve Cuiffo, is still a thief ...

Catholic Culture

Catholic Culture
Sat, 18 Apr 2015 22:11:18 -0700

Autolycus is a pagan friend against whose objections Theophilus defends Christianity. In the first book, Theophilus discusses the essence of God, the absurdity of idolatry and the meaning of the name Christian. In the second he contrasts the wisdom of ...

Christian Science Monitor

Christian Science Monitor
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:03:31 -0700

To call him Autolycus, however, seems a little elaborate. Even so, he, too, is a “snapper-up of unconsidered trifles.” The twigs he brings home vary in size. Sometimes they approach trunkhood. These are difficult to negotiate when he leaps into the ...
The Times (subscription)
Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:45:00 -0700

Some years ago, on January 14, 1834, to be precise, The Times reported on the case of Edward Trabshaw. He was an intelligent ten-year-old who had run away from home and fallen in with a gang of thieves. This report inspired Charles Dickens to write ...
Sidney Daily News (subscription)
Fri, 03 Apr 2015 10:48:45 -0700

... as Paulina; Jayson Alan Grigsby, of New Bremen, as Camillo; Zaidee Himes, of Huber Heights, as Mamillius; Austin Swigert, of Houston, as Florizel; Samantha Burden, of Anna, as Predita; Evan McElfresh, of Troy, as Autolycus; Kevin Grogean, of ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:26:57 -0700

Jimmy_Humphries April 14, 2015 18:51 Come on guy, Bruce was on Xena for years guest starring as Autolycus king of thieves... KarenBrey April 14, 2015 18:50 Love all your work in and out of Xena...but I mostly love your world Eco stance. What do you do ...

UC Merced University News

UC Merced University News
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:14:17 -0800

Applied mathematics major Aaron Bremner plays the part of Autolycus, a wandering thief and ballad salesman. Though this is his first show with ShakespereFest, Bremner is no stranger to the iconic playwright 's work. The senior has performed in various ...

DC Theatre Scene

DC Theatre Scene
Mon, 16 Mar 2015 08:45:29 -0700

Audiences unfamiliar with the full version will not miss scenes such as the visit to the Oracle, but they may sense a somewhat rushed compression of the play's comedic pastoral scenes usually found in Act II due to the removal of Autolycus' thievery ...

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