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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[4]) and several sons, of whom only Aesimus is named.


Life and major events[edit]

There are a number of different accounts of the birth of Autolycus. According to most, he was the son of "Hermes[5] and "Chione[6] or "Philonis.[7] In "Ovid's version, Autolycus was conceived after Hermes had intercourse with the virgin Chione (Ovid 11).[8] "Pausanias instead states that Autolycus' real father was "Daedalion (Pausanias 8.4.6).[9]

Autolycus was husband to "Mestra, daughter of "Erysichthon (Ovid 8.738),[10] 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,[4] 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". Then Autolycus answered: "Since I have been angered (ὀδυσσάμενος odyssamenos)[11] with many, both men and women, let the name of the child be Odysseus".[12]

Autolycus obtained most of the same skills that his supposed father Hermes possesses, such as the arts of theft and 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, 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). He had a helmet to make him "invisible.["citation needed] 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 trouble in Heracles' life, because when Autolycus stole some cattle from Euboea and Eurytus, they accused Heracles of the deed; upon going mad from these accusations, Heracles killed them and another one of Eurytus' sons, Iphitus. This led to Heracles serving three years of punishment to repent the deed (Apollodorus 2.6.3).

In popular culture[edit]

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


  1. ^ KJ Gutzwiller. Theocritus' Pastoral Analogies: The Formation of a Genre (p. 37). Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1991 "ISBN "0299129446. Retrieved 2015-04-12. 
  2. ^ "Pausanias viii. 4. § 3 (cited in Smith)
  3. ^ "Odyssey 19.416
  4. ^ a b Homer, Odyssey, 24.334
  5. ^ "Bibliotheca, Library 1.9.16
  6. ^ "Hyginus, Fabulae 201
  7. ^ "Catalogue of Women fr. 64.
  8. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses - Book the Eleventh: The Transformation of Daedalion, translated by "Samuel Garth, "John Dryden, et al (MIT): "unresisted revels in her arms ...".
  9. ^ "Pausanias, Pausanias's Description of Greece (p. lix), translated by "J G Frazer, Cambridge University Press, 2012, "ISBN "1108047238.
  10. ^ I. Ziogas, Ovid and Hesiod: The Metamorphosis of the Catalogue of Women (p. 136), Cambridge University Press, 2013. "ISBN "1107007410. Ziogas states a detail of Ovid 8.738, "Mestra is not actually mentioned by name in Ovid 8. 738".
  11. ^ ὀδύσσομαι at "LSJ.
  12. ^ Homer, Odyssey, 19. 400-405
  13. ^ Murray, Nicholas, biography on "Aldous Huxley 2002.


External links[edit]

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