Many stories feature powers or abilities that are inherent to an individual, whether fantastic, pseudo-scientific, or perhaps even actually scientific. But sometimes they are not so inherent. Sometimes, another character can take those powers, which may or may not deprive the first character of their use. For example
- In X-Men, Rogue can steal the powers of another mutant (and occasionally those of non-mutant characters).
- In Mistborn and other Cosmere novels, Hemalurgy can be used to rip away a thread of spiritual "DNA" and staple it to someone else.
- On the TV show Heroes, Peter Petrelli can permanently (later, temporarily) acquire any power possessed by someone he touches.
- In the Kirby series of video games, Kirby can use a version of an enemy's power by eating it.
What is the earliest instance of this sort of "power theft" in fiction? It could be from mythology, fantasy, comic books, or pretty much anything else.
What doesn't qualify:
- Shapeshifting into someone else, and gaining their powers as a result.
- Taking back a power one originally possessed, after giving it to someone (e.g. Coyote on Gunnerkrig Court).
- Reading someone's mind and using their knowledge to become good at some mundane activity.