After rewatching O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I realized the irony of the governor being named after Menelaus, Helen's husband from The Iliad. The Menelaus of lore started the Trojan War, the reason why Odysseus left home in the first place, but the Menelaus of the film pardons our heroes and gives them legitimate work, allowing them to come home. - Slacker Spice
Wait, who? The Governor was "Pappy" O'Daniel and they named the character after the former Governor of Texas.
It gets maybe one mention, when the audience hears the sign off of his radio show, but the governor's name is Menelaus "Pappy" O'Daniel.
The governer also underscores another Odyssey reference: after Odysseus returned to Ithaca, he had to re-establish his right to rule as king against a populace that resented him for murdering two generations of their sons (first as soldiers to Troy, then as suitors to Penelope.) Everett can't be the mayor of his hometown, but he does inadvertently help the governer of Mississippi get reelected. It's the opposite of a Composite Character.
For the longest time, I was also confused about Everett asking the hobos if they had ever been smithies. Then I remembered that they were chained together, and realized that yeah, a smith might be a good idea, especially after what happens next.
There's a joke in this movie so subtle it took me years to realize it, and I'm convinced it goes over most people's heads. The John Goodman character is obviously based on the cyclops. We later find out that he's a member of the Klan. One of the ranks in the Klan is Grand Cyclops.
Really, the Odyssey references are astounding. The blind seer, the punishment for killing (the Sun god's) cattle, the mysterious and dangerous Sirens, animal transformation, Cyclops... even Everett's wife's insistence on having the perfect, precise wedding ring from their old house: Penelope did not believe Odysseus until he proved himself to her by telling the story of how he made their unique and one-of-a-kind wedding bed.