The Odyssey (TV miniseries)

The Odyssey was a 1997 miniseries on NBC with Armand Assante as the main actor, Odysseus. The film's director was Andrei Konchalavsky. Francis Ford Coppola and Nicholas Meyer are two of the film's executive producers.


This is the story of "The Odyssey", about Odysseus' decade-long return from the Trojan War to his homeland of Ithaca in Greece.

As well as the Odyssey, the series also shows a bit of Homer's other epic poem, the Illiad, with battles and other scenes. It also includes bits from Virgil's Aeneid, such as the scene involving the Trojan Horse.


Armand Assante- Odysseus

Greta Scacchi- Penelope

Isabella Rossellini- Athena

Vanessa Lynn Williams- Calypso

Geraldine Chaplin- Euryclea

Eric Roberts - Eurymachus

Irene Papas- Anticlea

Bernadette Peters- Circe

Christopher Lee- Tiresias

Jeroen Krabbé- Alcinous

Nicholas Clay- Menelaus

Vincenzo Nicoli- Agammenon

Alan Stenson- Telemachus

Tony Vogel- Eumaeus

Michael J. Pollard- Aeolus

Ron Cook- Eurybates


Book/Original myth discrepancies

  • Events such as Odysseus’ encounters with the Sirens, the Laestrygonians, the Lotus Eaters, and the cattle of Helios are left out of the movie.
  • The story is presented in chronological order here, whereas Homer's Odyssey actually begins in medias res, or in the middle of the tale, with the beginning of the story coming later in a flashback by Odysseus.
  • In the book, Telemachus was already a few months old when Odysseus left for Troy. In the movie, Odysseus departs on the day his son is born.
  • Nicholas Clay’s portrayal of Menelaus shows him having black hair. He is stated to have had red hair in the book.
  • Hector challenges Achilles to fight, instead of the other way around.
  • Achilles kills Hector in the midst of battle, rather than during a duel.
  • Only Laocoon is eaten by the sea monster, and not his two sons.
  • In both the book and the movie, Odysseus has a feud with Poseidon, who is a large factor to his delayed return home. Yet the scenes where Poseidon speaks to Odysseus about this through the waves are only in the movie.

  • Odysseus originally had a fleet of twelve ships, but eventually lost all but one of them. In the movie, he has only one ship throughout.
  • The men only stay in the Cyclops Polyphemus’ cave for one night, instead of two. Also, only two of them are killed, not six.
  • Polyphemus is stabbed in the eye with a pole made of wood instead of iron.
  • Polyphemus’ brothers do not appear in the movie, though Polyphemus does call out to them for help.
  • The men escape from the cave by simply running out, instead of clinging onto the bellies of the sheep. Also, the men do not take any of the sheep with them onto their ship.
  • Odysseus never saw Aeolus's face in the waterfall in the book.
  • Odysseus finds Aeolus alone, sitting on a small throne in a cave, instead of in a large palace.
  • The sack of winds is cut open with a knife, instead of being untied open.
  • The men do not return to Aeolus’ island in the movie.
  • The scene where Odysseus finds out that the five days he spent in Circe’s palace were actually five years in the outside world isn’t in the book.
  • In addition to Tiresias and his mother Anticlea, Odysseus also encountered heroes from the Trojan War, such as Achilles, Patroclus, Antilochus and Ajax, during his trip to the Kingdom of the Dead.
  • In the book, the men came back to Circe's island after their trip to the underworld. They never do so in the movie.
  • Penelope never tells Telemachus about what happened the day his father left in the book.
  • Circe turns some of Odysseus’ men into various different animals, such as lions, monkeys, etc. in the movie. In the book, she turns them all into pigs.
  • The shroud that Penelope weaves to stall the suitors is not supposed to be for Odysseus, but for Laertes, his father.
  • In the book, Elpenor dies by falling of the roof of one of Circe’s houses. In the movie, he is eaten by the monster Scylla.
  • Scylla has only three heads in the movie, instead of six in the book. Likewise, only three men instead of six are eaten by her.
  • Odysseus was aware of Charybdis in the book, but he never actually encountered it.
  • Telemachus didn't leave Ithaca immediately after Athena persuaded him in the book.
  • When Telemachus travels to Sparta to see Menelaus in the movie, he does not encounter the king's famous wife, Helen.
  • Odysseus stays at Calypso’s island for only a little more than two years in the movie. In the book, he was there for seven years.
  • Odysseus didn’t have to go look in a cave for dry wood in the book.
  • Much less of Odysseus’ arrival in Phaeacia is portrayed in the movie.
  • Melanthe’s role has been greatly extended in the movie.
  • In the book, Odysseus disguises himself before going into his house, rather than having Athena transform him into a beggar.
  • The old dog that is the first to recognize Odysseus upon his arrival is left out in the movie.
  • When Euryclea encounters Odysseus, she does not reveal which of the servant girls had conspired with the suitors. The hanging of these twelve girls is also never shown.
  • Antinous was actually the first suitor to try and string Odysseus' bow in the book, not the last.
  • Many of the suitors die differently in the finale. For instance, in the movie, Antinous is speared to the wall by Telemachus, whereas in the book, he dies from an arrow in the throat.
  • No suitors in the movie survive.
  • Penelope does not test Odysseus about their great rooted bed.
  • The movie ends sooner than the book, by having the last scene being Odysseus and Penelope’s first encounter in twenty years.


  • All special effects were done by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
  • The cyclops was created by having an animatronic head placed over a sumo wrestler's body.
  • It was filmed in Malta and Turkey, as well as many other places around the Mediterranean Sea where the story actually took place.


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