The craftiest of thieves. He stole the flocks of his neighbours, and changed their marks. Sisyphos out-witted him by marking his sheep under their feet, a device which so tickled the rogue that he instantly
“cottoned” to him. Shakespeare introduces him in The Winter's Tale as a pedlar, and says he was called the son of Mercury, because he was born under that “thieving planet.”
“Autolycus is no lapidary, though he drives a roaring trade in flash jewellery.” —Pall Mall Gazette.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894