Hesiodic Passages on Autolykos

Fragment 64 .15-19

“….Divine Philonis
Who bore Autolykos and Philammon*, famous for his voice;
She gave birth to the first after she was impregnated by Apollo,
And then, after she had lovely sex with Hermes too,
She gave birth to Autolykos with the Kyllenian slayer of Argos.”

[                          ]δ̣ῖ̣α̣ Φι̣λ̣ων̣[ίς
ἣ τέκεν Αὐτόλυκόν τε Φιλάμμονά τε κλυτὸν αὐδήν,
τὸν μὲν ὑποδμηθεῖσα ἑκηβόλωι ᾿Α]π̣όλ[λ]ω̣νι,
τὸν δ’ αὖθ’ ῾Ερμάωνι μιγεῖσ’ ἐρατῆι] φιλ[ό]τητι̣
Αὐτόλυκον τίκτεν Κυλληνίωι ᾿Αρ]γεϊ[φ]ό̣ντ̣[ηι

*Philammon became a powerful singer thanks to his father, Apollo, and in some traditions is credited with founding the practice of singing hymns to Leto, Artemis and Apollo. He has a son with the nymph Argiope, Thamyris, who challenges the Muses in a singing competition and loses. Autolykos’ daughter, Antiklea, is Odysseus’ mother.

Fragment 67

Aeidelon means unseen. Eido is to recognize something, whence we derive “I know” (oida) Eidelos is formed the way pempelos is from pempô. Formed with a suffix, aeidelos is someone that is not seen. In the work of Nicander, it comes from that which is always apparent. He explains about this that it is derived from aeidêlon with a shortening of the eta to an epsilon. But a very clear meaning has been established for aeidelos. For Hesiod uses the word concerning Autolykos to indicate what is unseen:

“Whatever he took with his hands, he made it all unseen” (fr. 67 MW)

For, since he was a thief, he would steal horses and make them look different. He changed their colors. Cf. to aidêlon.

ἀείδελον σημαίνει τὸν ἀόρατον. ῎Εστιν εἴδω τὸ γινώσκω· ᾧ ἀντιπαράκειται τὸ οἶδα. Γίνεται εἴδελος, ὡς πέμπω πέμπελος· καὶ συνθέσει ἀείδελος, ὁ μὴ θεωρούμενος. Παρὰ δὲ Νικάνδρῳ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀεὶ φανεροῦ κεῖται. Περὶ οὗ ἐστὶν εἰπεῖν, ὅτι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀείδηλον γέγονε κατὰ συστολὴν τοῦ η εἰς ε·

Τοῦ δὲ τέρας περίσημον ἀείδελον ἐστήρικτο. Νίκανδρος. ᾿Επὶ δὲ τοῦ ἀοράτου ἐχρήσατο τῇ λέξει ῾Ησίδος περὶ τοῦ Αὐτολύκου. Φησὶ γὰρ, ῞Οττι κε χερσὶ λάβεσκεν, ἀείδελα πάντα τίθεσκεν. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ αὐτὸς, κλέπτης ὢν, ἔκλεπτε τοὺς ἵππους, καὶ ἀλλοιοφανεῖς αὐτοὺς ἀπετέλει· ἐνήλλασσε δὲ τὰς χροιὰς αὐτῶν. Ζήτει εἰς τὸ ἀΐδηλον.

Interested in ἀΐδηλον? I wrote a little piece about it.



2 thoughts on “Hesiodic Passages on Autolykos

  1. Great piece, thank you. I am now more and more curious about scroll 13 of the Odyssey the Cave of Nymphs. The Old Man of the Sea Phorcys dwells in the harbor and they are with him. From Hesiodic poetry, I think Phorcys and Thetis’, dad Nereus are brothers, which makes Phorcys her uncle. The Old Man of the Sea Proteus, the father of Eidothea is also mentioned in scroll 4 350 in the Odyssey. He shapeshifts the way Thetis does. He is an Egyptian sea god and has a striking resemblance to Nereus in that the Old Man of the Sea speaks only the truth. So, I am wondering about this character Phorcys, the old man of the sea, in the scroll 13 of the Odyssey. I wrote about this at heroesX v.6

    Achilles with strong aversions to falsehood (scroll 9) and Odysseus who cannot resist telling lies even to his protector goddess Athena. So, does this Phorcys mean anything?

    There is in the land of Ithaca a certain harbor of Phorcys, the old man of the sea, and at its mouth two projecting headlands sheer to seaward, but sloping down on the side toward the harbor. These keep back the great waves raised by heavy winds [100] without, but within the benched ships lie unmoored when they have reached the point of anchorage. At the head of the harbor is a long-leafed olive tree, and near it a pleasant, shadowy cave sacred to the nymphs that are called Naiads. [105] Therein are mixing bowls and jars of stone, and there too the bees store honey. And in the cave are long looms of stone, at which the nymphs weave webs of purple dye, a wonder to behold; and therein are also ever-flowing springs. Two doors there are to the cave, [110] one toward the North Wind, by which men go down, but that toward the South Wind is sacred, nor do men enter thereby; it is the way of the immortals.

  2. Phorcys is also a grandfather? of Cyclops, by way of Poseidon (who would be his father). There are multi versions of the lineage.

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