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Autolycus

[aw-tol-i-kuhs]

In Greek mythology, Autolycus (in Greek, Αὐτόλυκος – "Lone Wolf") was a son of Hermes and Chione.

He was the father of Anticlea (who married Laertes of Ithaca and was the mother of Odysseus) and of several sons of whom only Aesimus is named.

Autolycus was a renowned thief (skills passed down by his father, the King of Thieves and Messenger God) and a formidable exponent of wrestling (which he taught to Heracles). Autolycus stole the cattle of Sisyphus as well as the helmet that his grandson, Odysseus (whom he thus named), wore during the Trojan War. Autolycus was one of the Argonauts. He is also purported to have been the one who took Eurytus' (see the main article, Eurytus) mares (or cattle), leading to the murder of one his sons, Iphitus, by Heracles.

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 him, is "a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles". In the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, Autolycus appeared as a somewhat bumbling and comical antihero, referring to himself as the "King of Thieves". Although occasionally uncoordinated, he was also a cunning thief, portrayed by cult actor Bruce Campbell.

Autolycus is also the name of a fictional racehorse in the 1934 film The Clairvoyant, starring Claude Rains.

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