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For other uses, see Autolycus (disambiguation).

In Greek mythology, Autolycus (/ɔːˈtɒlɪkəs/; Greek: Αὐτόλυκος Autolykos, "The Wolf Itself") was a son of the Olympian god Hermes and Chione. He was the husband of Neaera,[1] or according to Homer,[2] 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[3] and Chione[4] or Philonis.[5] He had a helmet to make him invisible. Autolycus was conceived after Hermes raped the virgin Chione, having caused her to fall asleep by touching her face (Ovid 11. 301). However, Pausanias states that Autolycus' real father was Daedalion (Pausanias 8. 4. 7.)

Autolycus was husband to Mestra, daughter of Erysichthon (Ovid 8. 738) (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.

  • Autolycus appears as a paragon of thievery in Thomas De Quincey's "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts".
  • 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 appears in Diana Wynne Jones' book The Game as a very mischievous brat.
  • In the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, Autolycus appears as a comical antihero, portrayed by cult actor Bruce Campbell, who has a kinder heart than he lets on. As the self-proclaimed "King of Thieves", he is depicted as a thief of great cunning but even greater ego, which typically results in him getting in over his head in one scenario after another.
  • Autolycus is the name of a fictional racehorse in the 1934 film The Clairvoyant, starring Claude Rains.
  • 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 is the name of a pet jackdaw belonging to the fictional detective Albert Campion in the novels by Margery Allingham.
  • Autolycus appears in an episode of the Canadian television series Class of the Titans, stealing Hercules's last surviving arrow for Cronus.
  • 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!)”.
  • Autolycus was the penname Aldous Huxley used when writing the 'Marginalia′ column in the Athenaeum.[6]
  • 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.
  • Autolycus was portrayed by Rufus Sewell in the 2014 movie Hercules portrayed by Dwayne Johnson.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pausanias viii. 4. § 3 (cited in Smith)
  2. ^ Odyssey xix. 394, &c. (cited in Smith)
  3. ^ Bibliotheca, Library 1.9.16
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 201
  5. ^ Catalogue of Women fr. 64.
  6. ^ Murray, Nicholas, biography on Aldous Huxley 2002.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autolycus — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1707 videos foundNext > 

Autolycus, King of Thieves

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

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Geraldine Jacobsen doubling with Lucy Lawless as Xena in the Season 1 Episode "Royal Couple of Thieves". Here Xena chases down and captures Autolycus (Bruce ...

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.

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 lit...

Autolycus - I need a hero

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

Autolycus

A little tribute to the one and only Autolycus - the King of Thieves! The music is from "The Piano" movie soundtrack - the exact name of the piece is "The Fl...

SecretAgentMan(Autolycus)

Autolycus Video.

Hard to be humble Autolycus.wmv

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble, with Autolycus from Hercules the Legendary Journey. The song rather was a character description for the King of Thieves. Song...

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 ...

Autolycus 2

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

1707 videos foundNext > 

1375 news items

Merced Sun-Star

Merced Sun-Star
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 16:56:03 -0800

Applied mathematics major Aaron Bremner plays the part of Autolycus, a wandering thief and ballad salesman. Other UC Merced cast members are: Jayson Beaster-Jones, music professor; Soheil Fatehi, student; Taryn Hakala, lecturer; Amber Kirby, alumna; ...

UC Merced University News

UC Merced University News
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:07:30 -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 ...
 
Tehran Times
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:03:45 -0800

Tusi was a man of exceptionally wide erudition. He wrote approximately 150 books in Arabic and Persian and edited the definitive Arabic versions of the works of Euclid, Archimedes, Ptolemy, Autolycus, and Theodosius. He also made original contributions ...

Merced Sun-Star

Merced Sun-Star
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 18:03:45 -0800

Aaron Bremner, performing as Autolycus, sings as he is surrounded by children of Sicilia and Bohemia during a dress rehearsal for the Merced Shakespearefest presentation of “The Winter's Tale.“ Andrew Kuhn akuhn@mercedsunstar.com. Story; Comments.
 
Staunton News Leader
Wed, 04 Feb 2015 09:08:41 -0800

David Loehr plays Malvolio in "Twelfth Night," Nurse and Benvolio in "Romeo and Juliet," Autolycus and Alchemist in "The Winter's Tale" and Master Yellowhammer in "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside." In addition, Loehr directs the staged reading of "A Woman ...

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Fri, 26 Dec 2014 12:02:50 -0800

This year also included roguish tricksters like Beth Mulkerron's Autolycus, shape-shifting her way through Optimist Theatre's "The Winter's Tale" — and enabling the miraculous thaw that awakened the dead and saved a marriage. It included actor Nell ...

Washington Times

Washington Times
Tue, 13 Jan 2015 10:05:50 -0800

Will someone PLEASE convince Bozo that he doesn't get to define the enemy in terms that he is comfortable with. Timon Autolycus. Just because Bozo has big ears doesn't mean he hears anything. Ham12. BO needs to be held up by his ears, just like LBJ did ...

Telegraph.co.uk

Telegraph.co.uk
Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:12:12 -0800

Tough choices about spending will have to be made in the next few years – and voters deserve a standard of debate that is mature and honest. They might have expected the BBC's coverage of the Autumn Statement to reflect that, given its obligation – as ...
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