Many entertainment forms have taken a page out of the Odyssey - from film adaptations, rap songs, to even a Simpsons episode! Check them out for yourself: 

The OdysseyThe Simpsons Edition

Abbreviated Rap by Tino Dayton

Action scene from the film (1997)

Ulysses (1918)

James Joyce

 

The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel (1938)

Nikos Kazantzakis

 

The Peneleopiad (2005)

Margaret Atwood

 

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The movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was directed by the well-known Cohen brothers, Joel and Ethan.  The writing of this piece is credited to Ethan and Joel as well as Homer.  This movie is probably the most well-known direct adaptation of the Odyssey due to the similarities that are evident with the text.  The stars of the movie include George Clooney, John Torturro, and Timothy Blake Nelson along with many others.  The IMBD story line of “O Brother, Where Art Thou” is a perfect representation of the film.  The notable movie review website writes:

“Loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey," the movie deals with the picaresque adventures of Ulysses Everett McGill and his companions Delmar and Pete in 1930s Mississipi. Sprung from a chain gang and trying to reach Everett's home to recover the buried loot of a bank heist they are confronted by a series of strange characters--among them sirens, a cyclops, bank robber George "Baby Face" Nelson (very annoyed by that nickname), a campaigning governor and his opponent, a KKK lynch mob, and a blind prophet who warns the trio that "the treasure you seek shall not be the treasure you find."

 

As you can see there are many aspects of this movie that closely encompass the aspects of the famous text.  The sirens were three attractive women in the creek that three men could not resist.  They were tempted by their beauty and their song which is identical to the text.  The Cyclops was a character played by John Goodman named Big Dan.  This Big Dan had an eye patch and claimed to be a bible salesman.  He lures the three of them into the middle of nowhere in a craftily planned ploy to rob them of their money and vehicle.  The main character, Ulysses (played by George Clooney), succeeds by having great intelligence and the gift of gab, make him a great representation of the great Odysseus.   The story line and character list make this film a direct representation of the text. 

 

Trailer for O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

The modern adaptations of The Odyssey are not always in the form of a text or a piece of cinematography. In some cases, like this, the adaptations can come in the form of a song. This song, "Tales of Brace Ulysseus", was written by one of the most renowned rock and roll bands of all time, Cream. It is not a direct adaptation, bu tthe influence of Homer is evident.

               This band came together in England in 1966. The trio was comprised of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker. Of all the songs they performed, the most notable were "Sunshine of Your Love" and "White Room." Along with these classic hits is the song "Tale of Brave Ulysses" written in 1967, which includes references to the historic text.

               The lyrics of the song, as well as the name, refer to significant aspects of The Odyssey. First off, the name of the song is "Tale of Brace Ulysses." This is significant because Ulysseus is the Latin translation of the name Odysseus. Second, Mr. Clapton includes the lyric, "How [Ulysseus] naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing" twice throughout the duration of the song. This is directly pulled from the text pertaining to Book 12. In this book Odysseus has his men tie him to the mast of the ship, and listen to the sound of the sirens.

His ears are naked because all of the crew besides him have bees wax placed in their ears, why he himself leaves his exposed to the song of the sirens. The final aspect of the song pertaining to The Odyssey was the referral of a by the name of "Aphrodite." This relates to the text because Aphrodite was a Greek goddess known for her immense beauty. This fits in well with the other parts of the song pertaining to Greek culture. Overall, this song may not be a direct adaptation of the text, but none the less it shows the impact that this great text has on modern society.

The Tales of Brave Ulysses (1967) - Cream

© 2015 by The Sacred Heart University Thomas More Honors Program