Asterix and Caesar's Gift
|Asterix and Caesar's Gift
(Le Cadeau de César)
|Date(s) of publication||1974|
|Preceded by||Asterix in Corsica|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Great Crossing|
Asterix and Caesar's Gift is the twenty-first volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was the first Asterix adventure that was not published in serial form in Pilote magazine prior to its publication as a book.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2007)|
Having completed twenty years of service in the Roman Army, Veteran legionaries Tremensdelirious and Egganlettus await their honesta missio (Latin:honorary discharge) for the morning but that night Tremensdelirious expresses his opinion on Julius Caesar in his drunken state and gets arrested.
The following morning Caesar is informed of Tremensdelirious's mishap the night before. Caesar suggests playing a practical joke. He will receive his honorary discharge after all but Caesar has a "special" gift for him. In the ceremony, Egganlettus receives a share in Nicaea and the still drunk Tremensdelirious receives his special gift: a Gaulish village in Armorica, the only territory of Gaul not yet conquered by the Roman legions. The village is inhabited by Asterix and his friends.
Tremensdelirious sees little merit in a gift he cannot drink and attempts to sell his land share immediately, but Egglanlettus refuses, wanting to grow salad in Nicaea. A few days later Tremensdelirious is drunk again and is unable to pay the innkeeper. So, he offers his land share. The innkeeper, Orthapedix agrees to the bargain. Soon Orthapedix, his wife Angina and Influenza, their daughter, arrive at "their" new village only to be disappointed to find it already inhabited but hope the seal of Julius Caesar will convince the villagers to leave. They request a meeting with Vitalstatistix and state their claim. The village chief bursts into laughter and is soon joined by Asterix, Obelix and a number of villagers. Vitalstatistix dismisses their claim as absurd.
Angina berates her husband for selling their inn to travel to Armorica. Vitalstatistix, decides to offer Orthapedix a chance to get out of his situation and informs him that their village has no inn and offers him a building for him to use next to the fish-stall. Obelix helps the new family and soon has a crush on Influenza. Geriatrix doesn't like Orthapedix and his family, saying he isn't against Foreigners but he doesn't like ones that come and stay in the Village, believing that they would attempt to kick them out of it. The opening night of the new inn, the villagers are invited to attend but the merriment seems to end when Vitalstatistix and his wife Impedimenta arrive. Impedimenta and Angina greet each other coldly and soon the two women enter an argument about who owns the village. Meanwhile a comment by Impedimenta about the smell of fish has set off Unhygienix and Fulliautomatix's rivalry. A fight starts with all the villagers present.
The morning finds the inn abandoned except for the bruised Orthapedix, a sobbing Angina and Influenza. Orthapedix is ready to quit and return to Lutetia, but Angina wants to have revenge on Impedimenta and makes a claim to the leadership of the village on behalf of her husband. Vitalstatistix is shocked to have his long-held position challenged but soon has Cacofonix obtain an opinion poll of the villagers and the results are disappointing for Vitalstatistix. Soon both candidates and their families search for supporters by offering their markedly insincere voice of support to the individual concerns of each villager.
The villagers become very involved in the political race. Geriatrix originally supports Vitalstatistix due to his distrust of Orthapedix, but then thinks the Chief is weak and tries to stand for Chief himself. Asterix, however, becomes worried that internal conflict could benefit the Romans. Meanwhile, Tremensdelirious arrives at the village to visit Orthapedix and explains that since their last meeting he unsuccessfully tried all kinds of trade. Thus he wants to claim his land share saying that veterans are not allowed to sell their shares to Gauls. The family attempts to throw him out but he draws the sword on the family. Meanwhile Asterix arrives and the two proceed in a demonstration of their swordsmanship. Asterix wins. Influenza is impressed by the diminutive Gaulish warrior and Tremensdelirious leaves. Tremensdelirious visits one of the four Roman camps surrounding the village and finds his old friend Egganlettus serving as an aide-de-camp under the local centurion, as he found retirement boring and signed up for another 20 years. With his support Tremensdelirious makes an official request on the centurion to restore a stolen land share to a veteran soldier. The centurion is rather reluctant to face the Gauls but the veterans threaten to report him to Caesar who would not like the Gauls taking advantage of his veterans. He agrees to prepare a military attack but Egganlettus has clearly fallen out of favor and his rank is reduced to Legionary second class.
The following day, Influenza expresses her admiration to Asterix. A jealous Obelix feels betrayed by both his best friend and his love interest. Asterix attempts to express his concerns about the mysterious Roman from the previous day but it falls on deaf ears. Hence, Asterix decides to investigate the forest area himself and soon finds that in one of the Roman camps they are preparing siege weapons for an extended campaign. He listens to their plans but lacks the magic potion needed to end their preparations. The Romans see him, but are afraid to attack, enabling him to escape. However his escape means the Romans become convinced that the Gauls can no longer resist the Romans, thus Roman morale rises. Egganlettus is given his position back.
Asterix returns to the village and attempts to sound the alarm, but the village pays no attention to him. Everybody is gathered to witness the public debate between Vitalstatistix and Orthapedix, with Cacofonix serving as a referee. When Vitalstatisix questions the impartiality of Cacofonix his allotted time is ended abruptly. While the debate is in progress, they are interrupted by rocks thrown into the village by the Roman catapults outside.
Vitalstatistix begs for Getafix to give them magic potion but the druid refuses even though he must know the village is under attack. He is just too disgusted by the Gaulish in-fighting. There is a change of attitude in Orthapedix and Vitalstatistix and they stop fighting each other. Getafix approves of this and agrees to help them. Obelix single-handedly attacks the Romans and delays their attempts to enter the village. His efforts provide enough time for the potion to be prepared. The rival factions of villagers combine their efforts against the Romans and counterattack, demolishing the war machines. Orthapedix himself confronts Tremensdelirious and returns the stone tablet that claims ownership of the village and smashes it on Tremensdelirious' head. Egganlettus realizes his friend's treacherous nature and is furious and follows this up with a blow with a stick. This results on Tremensdelirious falling into unconsciousness with a very pronounced lump on the head. Both Gauls and Romans seem to want nothing more to do with him and his body is left on the field. The centurion has Egganlettus demoted to second-class legionary and assigns him to clean up the remains of the war machines with a mere broom.
The Gauls are reconciled following their victory. A much more confident Orthapedix befriends his former rival who says he will make a good Chief, but he decides to withdraw his claim for leadership and return to Lutetia. Angina is about to object, but Orthapedix angrily puts her in her place, making it clear that the decision has been made and there is no room for argument. Now he has something to brag about to his brother-in-law. Impedimenta and Angina have nothing left to fight about. They exchange recipes and addresses of their relatives in Lutetia. Obelix mourns the loss of Influenza but is reconciled with Asterix, as they are no longer rival suitors. There is a victory celebration at night and everyone takes part. The narration claims that the events happened long ago, when such matters were not considered so important.
- The granting of land to Roman soldiers after their long years of service is historically true.
- Tremensdelirious was named after his most notable characteristic, being a drunkard. However, in the original French language his name is given as Roméomontaigus. He was named after Romeo Montague, one of two title characters in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The connection between the two characters is not particularly evident.
- Orthapedix is drawn as a caricature of André Alerme (September 9, 1877 - February 2, 1960), an actor
- Influenza is called Zaza for short (a possible reference to Zsa Zsa Gabor). She interprets Asterix signing with a Z as dedicating his victory to her and he does not protest. The Z is a reference to Zorro; the TV series was often shown on TV in continental Europe. Asterix's dialogue during the swordfight is a reference to Cyrano de Bergerac. (In the English translation it is peppered with references to the climactic swordfight in Hamlet.)
- Vitalstatistix and his brother-in-law Homeopathix confronted each other in person at the beginning and the finale of Asterix and the Laurel Wreath. Impedimenta entertains hopes of the two entering a partnership in Asterix and the Soothsayer.
- This is the second time Vitalstatistix is challenged by a contender to the leadership of the village. The previous time was by Cassius Ceramix of Linoleum in Asterix and the Big Fight. However the previous event was an attempt by another village to annex them. This is the first time his leadership is challenged by the population of the village. He will not be challenged again until Asterix and the Secret Weapon.
- This is the first time the Gauls of the village are revealed to have a method of electing leaders resembling a democracy. However, it seems that the leader has no fixed period of term and retains leadership until challenged. This leaves the possibility of the leader holding his position for life.
- This story has one of only a few scenes where Asterix uses his sword. Asterix always has it with him, but usually fights with his wits or his magic potion-augmented fists. This story shows that although Asterix rarely uses his weapon, he is a skilled swordsman.
- This is another rare instance where Cacofonix is not bound and gagged at the end of the story.
- The story parodies political campaigns in general, election campaigns in particular, and perhaps especially the French presidential election which took place in 1974, date of publication of the album. However, no election is actually held in it. Election day is mentioned as set for the celebration day of Lugh but the election is cancelled after the withdrawal of Orthapedix.
- In some of the scenes (after Vitalstatistix falls of his shield), there is a chicken who falls in love with Vitalstatistix's helmet.