DuckTales is a cartoon many people grew up with as children, as well as adults. One episode, entitled “Home Sweet Homer,” features Circe as a sorceress who’s trying to rule Ithaquack (Ithaca). Unlike the Odyssey, Odysseus has already returned, and his nephew, Homer, is king. Circe is trying to get rid of Homer so she can rule Ithaquack. DuckTales has made the Odyssey into a newer, kid-loving cartoon. In each cartoon you have to have your good guys and your bad guys. The good guys, or heroes in “Home Sweet Homer,” include: Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Homer. The predominant bad guy in this episode is Circe, who is the one trying to hurt our heroes. The purpose of this analysis is to compare a few of the characters from the Odyssey to similar characters in the DuckTales episode “Home Sweet Homer,” and also to compare the over all purpose of each story. The characters from the Odyssey that will be discussed are: Odysseus, Aeolus, Circe, Penelope (briefly), the Sirens, Scylla, and Charybdis.
In the DuckTales episode “Home Sweet Homer,” the story takes place after the Odyssey in 1100 B.C. Circe is portrayed as a villain, angered by Ulysses’ triumph over her. She now wants to rule Ithaquack. The name of the kingdom has also been changed from Ithaca to Ithaquack to fit the duck-theme of DuckTales. The episode “Home Sweet Homer” shows us to not focus on growing up to be like someone else, but to grow up to be ourselves. There are numerous times where Homer is compared to Ulysses in a negative way. Homer is consistently told that he’s not as brave, strong, or built as his famous uncle, Ulysses. The journey Homer takes with Scrooge and the boys teaches him to be himself and not to worry about being as great as Ulysses.
This DuckTales episode leaps from the present to the past numerous times. We begin in the present as Scrooge and he boys decide to go in search of the lost city of Ithaquack. The scene then switches to the past—1100 B.C.—and we see many angry villagers shouting to the palace of King Homer. They want to know what Homer’s doing, if anything, to rid the village of Circe. They also criticize Homer saying that “Ulysses wouldn’t hide in the palace like a coward (Home).” What the villagers don’t realize is that Homer has left Ithaquack in an effort to find someone to help get rid of Circe. Circe, in an attempt to send Homer into the future with a storm, accidentally brings Scrooge and the boys (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) into the past. Scrooge saves Homer from drowning and agrees to help him defeat Circe. As Scrooge, Homer, and the boys journey to Ithaquack they encounter a few of the people and places that Odysseus did in the Odyssey. Upon their arrival to Ithaquack, Homer and Scrooge are turned into pigs by Circe. The boys, who had been waiting by the ship, go to Homer’s palace, steal Circe’s magic medallion, and break it. By breaking the medallion, Circe is turned into a pig. The others that were turned into pigs return to their original form, and the storm that brought Scrooge and the boys into the past returns them to the future.
In DuckTales, Scrooge and the boys act as Odysseus. Like Odysseus, they love adventure and are very intelligent. They are also brave throughout the entire episode, leading Homer on. They act as our heroes because they are the ones who think of a way to solve each dilemma, for example, when they meet King Blowhard. Circe destroys Scrooge’s sailing yacht by closing off the passageway to Ithaquack while they are still traveling through it. Scrooge, Homer, and the boys wash ashore on to the island of King Blowhard. King Blowhard, a king said to have helped Ulysses during the Odyssey, has an allergy to the flowers that grow on the fruit on his island. The fruit on his island can be compared to the lotus flowers in the Odyssey (IX, 92-96). They are both fruits that have flowers on them, but the lotus flowers in the Odyssey are meant to make Odysseus and his men forget about home, hindering his journey. The fruit in DuckTales simply makes you sneeze.
When King Blowhard sneezes he inhales and blows with great force. King Blowhard could be compared to Aeolus, the god of the winds, from the Odyssey. Aeolus helps Odysseus by releasing the West Winds to blow Odysseus’ ships home (Odyssey X, 31-32). In DuckTales, near King Blowhard’s home is where Ulysses’ ship sank during a storm. His name was probably changed from Aeolus to King Blowhard because it is a humorous pun: he blows hard, so his name is Blowhard. They probably made him into a king instead of a god to either modernize it, or to remove the religious belief of Gods and Goddesses. Scrooge suggests that if King Blowhard helps them get Ulysses’ ship from the bottom of the sea, they will take the fruit with them. The king agrees and blows the water away from the ship sitting at the bottom of the sea.
Throughout this episode of DuckTales, Homer is referred to as a scrawny, weak, coward. He appears to be everything Ulysses was not. The fame of Ulysses puts a lot of pressure on Homer to live up to his uncle’s legacy. Ridding Ithaquack of Circe would help prove to the villagers, and himself, that he is just as good as his uncle. In the Odyssey Circe is shown to be beautiful and generous after Odysseus out-smarts her. In DuckTales, because she is the villain, she does not have any good qualities. She is not beautiful, but actually resembles a pig in appearance. She shows no compassion to anyone. She does things for her own personal gain, much like the Circe that first appears in the Odyssey. Circe is known for her power to turn people into animals, like in the Odyssey when she turned Odysseus’ men into pigs (X, 255-258). In this episode she only turns her victims—her cat (who ruins her spell to send Homer in to the future), Queen Ariel (the wife of Homer whose only similarity to Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, is her loyalty to her husband), King Homer, and Scrooge--into pigs, no other animal. Instead of living on a secluded Island, as she does in the Odyssey (X, 165-168), she lives in a cave high above Ithaquack. Her desire, in DuckTales, is to rule Ithaquack—power--and to have stories told about her--fame. Another difference is that in “Home Sweet Homer” Circe uses a magic medallion to cast her spells, whereas in the Odyssey she uses a wand (X, 256).
Circe watches Scrooge, Homer, and the boys through their entire journey. After they leave King Blowhard they come upon the Sirens. The Sirens in the Odyssey are described as living “in a meadow, and around them are piled the bones of shriveled and moldering bodies (XII, 47-48).” In DuckTales the three Sirens have the faces and hair of “normal” ducks. However, they do not have bodies. They have a purple worm, or snake-like body that sticks up from the ground. This monster eats the men the Sirens enchant, unlike in the Odyssey where the enchanted men sit listening to the Sirens’ song until they wilt away. The song the Sirens sing from the Odyssey is different from the song the Sirens from DuckTales sing, in the lyrics as well as in the delivery. In the Odyssey their singing is described as a “honeyed sound (XII, 195).” In DuckTales, the Sirens sound more raspy, but still enchanting. The song the Sirens sing to enchant Odysseus tells him that they are also poets and know all: “[w]e know all that happens on the teeming earth (Odyssey XII, 199).” They are also trying to keep him from returning home: “[s]top your ship so you can hear our voices (Odyssey XII, 193).” The song the Sirens sing to Scrooge enchant him because they sing about one of the most important things to him: money.
Pennies, nickels, quarters, dimes
come to us while there’s still time.
Golden ducky ever bold
look into our eyes of gold (Home).
Either sets of Sirens sing to the one they’re attempting to enchant, mentioning something that person--or duck--cares about, with their song. Odysseus’ men tie him up so that he cannot leave the ship when the Sirens sing to him (Homer XII, 185-186). Scrooge, on the other hand, doesn’t see the harm in the singing and listens to their song. Scrooge becomes enchanted and jumps out of the ship. Homer and the boys are able to catch him with a fishing net just as the monster, whose head the Sirens are attached to, is about to eat him.
Scrooge, Homer, and the boys next come across Yakalinda and the whirlpool. DuckTales uses Yakalinda in place of Scylla. In the Odyssey, Scylla has “twelve gangly legs and six very long necks, and on each neck is perched a bloodcurdling head, each with three rows of close-set teeth full of black death (XII, 92-95).” Yakalinda is a monster that resembles a snake, or dragon. Yakalinda attacks Homer’s ship the same way that Scylla attacks Odysseus’ ship. However, Yakalinda just wants lunch, whereas Scylla is trying to kill Odysseus and his men. Scylla lives in a cave halfway up the cliff that is across from Charybdis (Homer XII, 82-88), just as Yakalinda lives high up in a cave and across from a whirlpool that no ship has ever escaped from. The whirlpool can be compared to Charybdis. Charybdis sucks the water in and out, whereas the whirlpool sucks ships down. One of the boys sneezes after eating the fruit from King Blowhard’s island and awakens Yakalinda. Scrooge, Homer, and the boys become trapped in the whirlpool by trying to dodge Yakalinda. Scrooge, Homer, and the boys throw the fruit they took from King Blowhard’s island up to her with a rope attached. They are able to pull themselves free of the whirlpool by holding onto the rope as Yakalinda catches and eats the fruit. This escape is less deadly than the escape in the Odyssey where Scylla kills six of Odysseus’ men (XII, 252).
This episode of DuckTales ends with Huey, Dewey, and Louie breaking Circe’s medallion. By breaking the medallion, Circe is turned into a pig. Those she transformed into pigs (her cat, Ariel, Homer, and Scrooge) return to their original form. This is how our heroes triumphed over Circe. The Odyssey ends with Odysseus’ homecoming and being reunited with his family. Odysseus triumphs over the suitors by killing them (Odyssey XXII, 406-414). The main purpose of the DuckTales episode, “Home Sweet Homer,” is to show us not to be intimidated by the greatness of our ancestors, and to just be ourselves. Even though Homer may not have all the great qualities Ulysses had, he was still able to over come Circe with the help of Scrooge and the boys. The Odyssey is about Odysseus getting home and recovering his family. The suitors become the obstacle for Odysseus to overcome, and he does.
But why introduce Homer into the DuckTales story? Why not use Ulysses or his son? The writers of “Home Sweet Homer” most likely featured Ulysses’ nephew and not Ulysses himself--or his son, Telemachus--because in the Odyssey Odysseus and Telemachus are shown to be heroes and much like each other. For example, they are both good with words, they are both brave, and they both cry in public from time to time. Since Odysseus and his son are relatively the same, a nephew would be the next male relationship to make a connection to. Another reason for using a nephew of Ulysses could be to portray a theme of nephews and uncles in the show. In DuckTales, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are Scrooge’s nephews, as well as the nephews of Donald Duck (who occasionally appears in DuckTales episodes).
This version of the Odyssey is made meaningful to its new audience because it not only shows us a fun and amusing twist on a few of Odysseus’ adventures, but it also teaches us to be ourselves even if we aren’t as great, brave, and intelligent as our ancestors. The one thing it doesn’t show us is Circe’s generous side. She is very sensual and was very kind to Odysseus after he stood up to her. However, because cartoons usually have a “bad guy,” they did not show any of Circe’s finer traits including her sensuality, her beauty, or the fact that she is a goddess. Circe was shown to be a one-dimensional character because DuckTales only showed her in a negative way. However, to be a cartoon villain, you almost always have to be one-dimensional so that the audience doesn’t pity you. The writers want us to cheer for the good guys and boo for the bad guys. Cartoon characters cannot be the same as epic characters (well-rounded characters) for this reason. This DuckTales episode also showed Circe changing everyone into pigs, but it did not show that she can change people into other animals. Turning her cat, Ariel, Homer, and Scrooge into pigs and not another animal really showed the off the part in the Odyssey where she turns Odysseus’ men into pigs, which was also Circe’s first appearance in the Odyssey. Over all, DuckTales “Home Sweet Homer” is an amusing version of Homer’s Odyssey. Even though the stories did not match up exactly, you can definitely see a connection between them.
“Home Sweet Homer.” DuckTales. Dir. Alan Zaslove. Perf. Alan Young, Tony Anselmo, and Russi Taylor. Videocassette. Walt Disney Video, 1987.
Homer. Odyssey. Indianapolis. Hackett Publishing Co. 2000.