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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.

References[edit]

  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.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autolycus — Please support Wikipedia.
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785 news items

Newsworks.org

Newsworks.org
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:52:30 -0700

"I am Autolycus' minion," said her older sister Lily, referring to the character who is a petty thief. "I'm setting up a party and stealing things for Autolycus." "I don't understand it all the way," said Molly, the eldest. "Now that I'm in it, I can ...
 
South Philly Review
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:52:30 -0700

No matter the adjective attached to a play, the 35-year-old loves creating a relationship with an audience and has won a wonderful opportunity to do so by playing Queen Hermione and Autolycus for Shakespeare in Clark Park's production of “The Winter's ...

Times of San Diego

Times of San Diego
Sat, 25 Jul 2015 09:30:00 -0700

After Time appears to tell us that 16 years have elapsed, we find ourselves in sunny, summery Bohemia, where a light comedy ensues, replete with songs; pastoral, celebrational merriment; silly disguises; and a scheming comical conman/cutpurse, Autolycus.

San Diego CityBEAT

San Diego CityBEAT
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:22:30 -0700

Although ragged in places, such as in the lengthy comic sequence that opens Act 2, Intrepid's Tale has much to admire, including Yael-Cox's versatility and stamina as both King Leontes and the comic thief Autolycus, a luminous Jo Anne Glover as wronged ...

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:45:56 -0700

He codirects, codesigned the sound and plays three roles, including the lead, King Leontes, and the musical pickpocket Autolycus. It's a lot for one actor to carry. He's strong and nuanced as Leontes, but doesn't develop enough layers in Autolycus to ...

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News
Thu, 23 Jul 2015 05:32:07 -0700

There's a huckster named Autolycus in this act, played by our Leontes, (prompting more than a little audience cognitive dissonance). He's also a thief and a musician, singing music of a modern era and stealing wallets right and left. Much silliness ...
 
Washington Post (blog)
Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:00:00 -0700

McGee is convincingly childish in her early scenes as Mamillius, and she swaggers effectively as the rogue Autolycus, who interacts with the audience and plays a bright blue ukulele. The performers take turns depicting doltish-looking sheep. The ...

moviepilot.com

moviepilot.com
Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:41:15 -0700

Since then, he has gone on to appear as a villain in many other films, including the Illlusionist, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and most recently starred in Hercules as one of Dwayne Johnson's companions, Autolycus. Going from losing to Heath ...
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