Different Character Portrayals From Book to Film The Odyssey, the classic epic by Homer, has been retold for centuries since it was first written in . Each of these retellings differs from, one another, seeing as each version has a somewhat alternate take on the tale. This causes characters to be portrayed differently from translation to translation. After reading the retellings by John Evslin and W.
H. D. Rouse, as well as watching Konchalovslky s film version, it was clear one could detect visible differences between characters. Notable differences were most clearly seen in Odysseus, Anticlea, and Teiresias, who s depictions I will compare as they were described in Book XI of The Odyssey, How Odysseus Visited the Kingdom of the Dead. Odysseus, the main character, is basically portrayed as a shrew, fearless, and smart man, cleverly weaving his way out of different dilemmas.
After all, he is referred to as the man who was never at a loss, and judging from his description in both film and different translations, this always seems to be true. However, there are several smaller differences in his character portrayal in different retellings. In Evslin s version, seeing as this version isn t greatly detailed, one can t gain such a feel for Odysseus character as one can from Rouse s translation. Odysseus lack of emotion may portray him to be rather uncaring, although he does treat the ghosts with whom he talks with respect, since he is just a guest in the Kingdom of Dead. However, it doesn t seem that the ghosts think as highly of him as they might in Rouse s version, seeing as Teiresias won t allow him to see Tantalus or Sisyphus, two ghosts that were doomed to suffer in Hades Kingdom. Overall, from just reading this chapter, one can t tell a great deal about Odysseus character.
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In Rouse s translation, Odysseus seems to have quite an esteemed presence in the Land of Dead. He seems to be ver kind and emotional, often shedding tears for those he sees dead. In this version, he has a much more seemingly realistic meeting with his mother. In this translation, not only does Odysseus see the souls as being wise, but the dead see him as having great knowledge as well.
For example, quite a few of the dead that Odysseus speaks to question him about their relatives who are still alive and what his going on with those who are still alive. These ghosts seem to enjoy Odysseus company, even asking him to prolong his stay a bit. What do you think of him now, gentlemen she said. Isn t he a fine figure of a man, and clever enough for anything Now he is my guest, but you all have your share of the honour, so don t be in a hurry to let him go… The film seems to focus more on Odysseus as being extremely courageous, physically strong, and a great risk taker; obviously to add to his appeal. It seems that in this version Odysseus is simply dodging falling temple pillars and and weaving in and out of fire, rather than being in the Land of Dead to acquire knowledge.
When he speaks to Teiresias, he also doesn t seem to have that great a respect for him as he does in the other version. Also, in the movie, Odysseus shoos the other souls away, instead of regarding them with more respect, therefore making the spirits seem quite evil instead of heroes and innocent commoners who have come to the underworld. Another character who appears somewhat differ from retelling to retelling is Anticlea, Odysseus mother. In Evslin s translation, again, like with Odysseus, from Anticlea s role in this chapter the reader can t grasp that great of an understanding for her character.
From what is written about her, she seems rather stern and monotonous, hardly showing signs of emotion making her character seem less alive. Anticlea also seems quite casual in the meeting of her son. From what she says one can t see that extreme feelings she posses for Odysseus, feelings that were supposedly so great they drove her to kill herself. From their interaction one can t see they share that much of a mother / son bond as it suggests in the film and Rouse version.
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It also doesn t seem that Anticlea thinks highly of Penelope, for when she mentions her it seems she speaks with a rather mocking, childish tone, when she talks about his wife being sought after by suitors while Odysseus is gone. I knew Penelope was being wooed by other men in your absence… I knew it well, but I would not speak evil of your wife, not I, not I… (p. 583) Anticlea could have seemed somewhat of a stranger to Odysseus in Evslin s version, but by her behavior in Rouse s translation she seems more like a caring mother.
She speaks with much emotion, making her character seem more alive. This makes Anticlea more appealing to the reader, since one can actually feel her deep sorrow. Anticlea tells Odysseus how she was driven to take her own life, thinking that he was dead and she could no longer go on living in his absence. She also tells him about Penelope, who she describes as having a patient heart, but her nights are filled with tears and sorrow. (p. 127), making it look as if she likes Penelope, contrary to what Evslin and the film portray.
In the movie, Anticlea always seems very stern, even when reuniting with her son. She does, however, show concern for him and his safety, ushering him out of the crumbling temple. However, from just watching this scene in the movie, one couldn t acquire so much of a feel for her character than if they had seen other parts of the film, for instance the part where she walked into the sea. The last character in Book XI with notable changes is Teiresias, the deceased prophet who Odysseus goes to the Underworld for advice. In Evslin s version he is portrayed as being very wise, just as he is in the Rouse translation. He seems to speak with a great deal of dignity, and deems himself superior above others.
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He somewhat feels he can tell Odysseus what to do and has authority over him, since he orders him to go back to the ship and not be allowed to see Tantalus or Sisyphus, although Odysseus wanted to. Overall, Teiresias appears to be a character with a great deal of wisdom and knowledge. In Rouse s translation, Teiresias seems to have an extraordinary power, even above Odysseus. He gives Odysseus a detailed account on how his voyage will proceed from here, showing that he has extreme knowledge and is an amazing prophet. However, it seems that his presence isn t as acknowledged as it is in Evslin s version, where all the ghosts seem to make way for him, although it is clear that in this version he is also highly respected among the dead. Overall, he seems to hold the same position as an elder would in a tribe; regarded by all as somewhat of a knowledgeable leader.
Teiresias doesn t seem to have such a powerful presence in the movie. On the contrary, the film makes him look frightening, seeing as Odysseus himself seems rather scared when he is speaking with him. I believe this may be because the movie wants to portray Odysseus as being so much more favorable than everyone else, so it would be logical to not make Teiresias appear as grand as he seems in the other versions. From closely having read both versions and watching the film, I was able to gain a great understanding for the characters; probably a greater understanding than I would ve acquired from just reading one translation or having just seen the movie. Although the characters did somewhat differ from version to version, the basics of their nature remained the same.
Since there have been so many retellings of The Odyssey, its almost impossible to tell which description comes closest to that of Homer s original; but in the end I find that it is up to the reader to decide what they personally view each character as being, regardless to as how they are described by the author.