Asterix and the Soothsayer

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Asterix and the Soothsayer
(Le Devin)
Date 1975
Series Asterix
Creative team
Writers Rene Goscinny
Artists Albert Uderzo
Original publication
Date of publication 1972
Language French
Chronology
Preceded by Asterix and the Laurel Wreath
Followed by Asterix in Corsica

Asterix and the Soothsayer is the nineteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 652-673 in 1972.

Plot summary[edit]

Frightened by a thunderstorm, the Gauls — with the exception of Getafix, who is at his annual druid meeting — are huddled in the chief's hut, when they are visited by a soothsayer, called Prolix, who predicts that "when the storm is over, the weather will improve" and additionally predicts a fight (caused by the villagers' habitual argument over the over-ripeness of fish sold by fishmonger Unhygenix). Asterix alone correctly identifies the soothsayer as a charlatan. Upon Prolix's departure, the chief's wife Impedimenta preserves him in hiding near the village, where she and the other villagers question him at will; forbidding only Asterix and Obelix. Later, Obelix eludes Impedimenta and, upon encountering him, chases Prolix into a tree. When he threatens to uproot it, Prolix diverts him by claiming to see a vision of a beautiful woman who loves warriors matching Obelix's description. Obelix returns to the village and almost instantly falls for Mrs. Geriatrix. Prolix meanwhile is arrested by a Roman Optio (a senior officer). The Optio brings Prolix before the Centurion, who decides to use the imposter's persuasive voice against the Gauls. Upon Impedimenta's discovery of Asterix near Prolix's camp, consternation spreads among the villagers on grounds of a threatened sacrilege. At the Romans' behest, Prolix returns, claiming dramatically that soon the air in the village will become polluted by a divine curse. Terrified, most of the villagers wait on a nearby island for the curse to exhaust itself, while Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix stay behind.

The Romans soon arrive to claim the village, while Asterix and Obelix hide in the local undergrowth. Getafix the druid returns from his conference; and hearing of the situation, turns Prolix's ruse against him by creating and spreading a foul-smelling mixture of gasses; thus expelling the Romans, Prolix, and Cacofonix the Bard, who returns to the other Gauls on the island to confirm Prolix's prophecy. Prolix himself is perplexed by this confirmation; while the Centurion sends word to Caesar that "all of Gaul is now conquered"; and hoping to become dictator himself, has the soothsayer tell him exaggerated stories of the luxuries emperors enjoy. Getafix, Asterix, and Obelix join the other villagers on the island, where Getafix reveals having himself created the "foul air" expelling the Romans; but Impedimenta and her fellow women remain convinced that Prolix was genuine, on grounds of his having flattered them in earlier predictions, and Asterix therefore determines to take the soothsayer by surprise and thus prove him fallible. To this end the Gaulish men and women attack the Roman camp together; and when the Centurion demands to know why Prolix did not warn him of this, the latter admits his ignorance. This convinces Impedimenta of his fraudulence, who beats the Centurion and the soothsayer with a rolling pin. Returning to the village, the Gauls meet Bulbus Crocus, an envoy of Julius Caesar's, come to confirm the Centurion's claim that the village is conquered, and expel him. In the Roman camp, Crocus reduces the centurion to a common soldier, who is then commanded by the Optio to clean the camp alone. Commanded by the Optio, Prolix leaves the camp, swears to give up soothsaying, and is driven away by a thunderstorm. The Gaulish village is soon at peace — with the exception of Cacofonix, who still daydreams of himself as a famous singer.

Notes[edit]

  • Again, with a more adult-theme which started with Asterix and the Roman Agent, the story revolves around the superstitions of the people at the time (Gauls and Romans alike) and of today, and parodies the general gullibility of humanity.
  • The story includes (page 9) an illustration of the Roman and Gaulish pantheon of gods.
  • In that illustration, Uderzo includes a drawing of his own country home.
  • A soothsayer's fantastical prediction of the future is illustrated by a photograph of La Défense, the modern district of skyscrapers outside Paris.
  • The scene at the bottom of page 10, where the characters observe the disembowelment of a fish, is a reproduction of Rembrandt's painting Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.[1]
  • Unhygienix, though depicted bare-footed in the series, can be seen on the cover wearing the brown footwear that the other male villagers wear. These are also seen in page 5, during the beginning of the storm scene, but he shown barefooted in the remainder of the scene and the book
  • On page 9 an Augur tells Caesar that "as long as Brutus is near you, O Caesar, you will have nothing to fear", in the authors' reference Caesar's murder.

Film adaptation[edit]

An animated film bearing the title Asterix and the Big Fight was released in 1989 but although it contained elements from that album, it was actually more an adaptation of this book.

Part of the plot was also used in the first live action Asterix film, Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar.

In other languages[edit]

  • Arabic: أستريكس والعراف
  • Basque: Aztia
  • Catalan: L'endeví
  • Croatian: Vrač pogađač (Quack guessed)
  • Czech: Věštec
  • Dutch: De ziener
  • Finnish: Asterix ja ennustaja
  • German: Der Seher
  • Greek: Ο μάντης
  • Icelandic: Ástríkur og falsspámaðurinn
  • Italian: Asterix e l'Indovino
  • Norwegian: Spåmannen
  • Portuguese: O Adivinho
  • Polish: Wróżbita
  • Serbian: Астерикс и пророк
  • Spanish: El Adivino

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bell, Anthea (1996). "Translating Astérix". Translation: Here and There, Now and Then. Intellect Books. p. 129.