Asterix and the Roman Agent

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Asterix and the Roman Agent
(La Zizanie)
Date 1972
Series Asterix
Creative team
Writers Rene Goscinny
Artists Albert Uderzo
Original publication
Date(s) of publication
Language French
Preceded by Asterix in Spain
Followed by Asterix in Switzerland

Asterix and the Roman Agent (French: La Zizanie, "Strife") is the fifteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It first appeared as a serial in Pilote magazine issues 531-552 in 1970 and was translated into English in 1972.

Plot summary[edit]

The resistance of the Gaulish village against the Romans causes friction between dictator Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate, whose power has been reduced by Caesar. With their Magic Potion which gives them superhuman strength and is known only to their druid Getafix, they easily stand up against Rome and her laws.

At a meeting with his associates it is suggested to Caesar that causing internal conflict between the Gauls will lead to their breakdown. He is then told by another Official about Tortuous Convolvulus, a natural troublemaker who used to live in an Insula owned by the Official and can cause dissension and stir up fights between anyone. These included the lions which were to devour him in the circus the other tenants got him sent to, but ended up eating each other. His mere presence even causes an argument and a fight between Caesar's guards and associates. Impressed by his abilities, Caesar sends him to deal with the Gauls. On the way, Convolvulus causes fighting on the ship, from the captain to the galley slaves. The pirates try to attack the ship, but are surprised to see that the people on the ship are more occupied with fighting among themselves than defending themselves against their attack. Convolvulus then says he gave one of the Pirates a bag of gold in Rome and was told they would not attack. This causes the Pirates to fight, which ends with the ship being scuttled. The Pirates realize their foolishness too late, and ruefully comment that they do not even need the Gauls to make fools of themselves.

Meanwhile in the Gaulish village, unaware of all this, things are being organised for Chief Vitalstatistix's birthday, a celebration of friendship all round. One who is not looking forward to it is his own wife, Impedimenta, who complains about all the eating and drinking that will go with it as well as the burden of useless and non-valuable presents including a mounting collection of swords, shields, stuffed fish and menhirs with huge ribbons.

Arriving in Gaul, Convolvulus moves into the nearby Roman camp of Aquarium and gets a description of the village inhabitants. He then goes to the village and quickly stirs up distrust between the Gauls: he gives a valuable vase to Asterix whom he describes as the "most important man in the village", to the outrage of Chief Vitalstatistix who considers himself the most important. The other villagers take this announcement seriously, with Impedimenta having fights with the other women on the subject of who is the most important and then privately dismissing her husband as a failure.

Further gossip and rumours lead to the belief by many in the village that Asterix, who is close to Getafix the druid, has sold the secret of the druid's Magic Potion to the Romans. Suspicion and paranoia becomes part of everyday life to the point that the banquet to celebrate the Chief's birthday is held in sullen silence. This has Cacofonix baffled as he is the only one unaware of what is happening. Leading this atmosphere of distrust are Fulliautomatix the blacksmith, Geriatrix the oldest inhabitant and their wives, one of whom goes so far as demanding to leave the area entirely. Convolvulus does not have the Magic Potion, but his whole plan rests on making the Gauls believe that he does.

Through other tricks and deception, Convolvulus convinces the Gauls that their suspicions are well founded and that the Romans have the Magic Potion. His Psychological Warfare is misinterpreted by the large Legionary Magnumopus as hitting people with clubs. When Fullautomatix and Unhygienix go to the camp to check, they see 'potion' being given to Romans. Realising the Gauls are spying on them from Unhygienix giving off a smell of fish, Convolvulus has a small Legionary pretend to knock out Magnumopus, causing the two Gauls to flee back to the village. However his plan works a little too well when even the Roman troops of Aquarium believe that they have the Magic Potion and insist on drinking it, even though it is not actually available to them.

The real turning point in his ruse, however, occurs when some of the deceived villagers openly voice their suspicions that Asterix and Getafix gave the secret of the Magic Potion to the Romans. This provides Asterix and Getafix with the excuse they need to announce a self-imposed exile and they leave the village with their heads held high. Obelix goes with them; he is himself confused as to whether or not the Romans have the Potion, but loyally sticks by his two best friends. They in fact intend to expose Convolvulus and teach the other Gauls a lesson in trust. The shock of their departure and their seeming helplessness against Roman attack has the villagers thinking they have acted foolishly.

Asterix and Getafix confront Convolvulus and announce that they are leaving the area with Obelix and the Magic Potion. Taking them at their word, Convolvulus persuades the Roman commander, centurion Platypus, to attack the village. At first the Legion arms themselves with clubs, thinking this is Psychological Warfare, but Platypus orders them to arm properly. The Gauls take the Roman's fake potion back to the village, smashing through a row of Romans to get through. As the villagers suspect their folly, it is easy for Asterix, Getafix and Obelix to prove to them that the idea of the Romans having the Magic Potion was all due to trickery and deceit on Convolvulus's part. Convolvulus sees this and realises his trick has been discovered, causing him to tell Platypus. Getafix makes some Magic Potion while Platypus summons for reinforcements after Asterix and Obelix beat back his garrison.

After drinking the real Magic Potion, the Gaulish villagers engage in a major battle with all four of the Roman garrisons that surround them. After winning the fight, they turn the tables on Convolvulus in an ingenious move: they thank him, treating him as one of their own, and give him the vase he gave Asterix earlier on. This tricks the Roman troops into believing that Convolvulus is a traitor who deliberately engineered their defeat and the vase is smashed as they arrest him. He is sent back to Rome for punishment, with a hint that this may be easier said than done given his peculiar talent. It is already causing arguments on the ship taking him back to Rome.

In the village there are apologies all round and it is agreed to hold another birthday for Vitalstatistix and make up for the previous one which was held in moody silence. Asterix however decides that he is entitled to a little of his own back after being suspected of being a traitor himself. The next day he is seen being proudly carried on a shield by Obelix in the same way that Vitalstatistix usually goes about his business. In a manner that Convolvulus would be proud of, this leads to gossip that Asterix has been appointed Vitalstatistix's successor and an argument and a fight between the wives as to which of their husbands would make the better chief. The men soon join in and peace is only restored when Asterix claims that he was simply testing the shield that he intends to give to Chief Vitalstatistix. Getafix says that they can't be blamed as they are only human, and Obelix exclaims "These humans are crazy!".

The story ends with the traditional banquet which doubles for a better celebration of Vitalstatistix's birthday.

In other languages[edit]

  • Brazilian Portuguese: A Cizânia
  • Catalan: La zitzània
  • Croatian: Zavadi pa vladaj
  • Czech: Nesvár
  • Dutch: De intrigant
  • Finnish: Asterix ja riidankylväjä (Asterix and the Sower of Arguments)
  • German: Streit um Asterix (The Asterix Controversy)
  • Greek: Η διχόνοια
  • Hebrew: הסכסכן מרומא
  • Hindi: Estriks aur Roman ghuspaithiyaa
  • Indonesian: Sang Penghasut
  • Italian: Asterix e la zizzania
  • Latin: Tumultus de Asterige
  • Norwegian: Brann i rosenes leir
  • Polish: Niezgoda
  • Pontic Greek: Το Ζιζάνιον
  • Portuguese: A Zaragata
  • Spanish: La cizaña
  • Serbian: Завади па владај
  • Swedish: Asterix och tvedräkten
  • Turkish: Asteriks Fitneci