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Autolycus

by James Hunter
Autolycus was the son of Chione and Hermes, and the grandfather of Odysseus. He was renowned for his wiliness and his cleverness as a thief.

Chione was the beautiful daughter of Daedalion, and was desired by both Apollo and Hermes. Apollo chose to wait until nightfall to sleep with the girl, but Hermes used his wand to charm her into sleep and came to her first, during the day. Chione bore two sons--Philammon to Apollo and Autolycus to Hermes. Philammon inherited Apollo's talent for music, and Autolycus inherited Hermes' skill at trickery.

Aside from his relation to Odysseus, Autolycus is chiefly remembered for his many thefts, including the cattle of Eurytus and a helmet eventually worn by Odysseus at Troy. He was also a great wrestler, and taught that art to Heracles.

Shakespeare gave the name Autolycus to a roguish thief in his play "The Winter's Tale".

"My Father nam'd me Autolycus, who being (as I am) littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles ..." -- Act IV.scene III.


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