Asterix in Spain
|Asterix in Spain
(Asterix en Hispanie)
|Date(s) of publication||1969|
|Preceded by||Asterix and the Cauldron|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Roman Agent|
Asterix in Spain is the fourteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote magazine, issues 498-519, in 1969, and translated into English in 1971. The title is not a direct translation from the original Astérix en Hispanie as this would be Asterix in Hispania, the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula.
A group of Iberian resistance fighters are holding out against the Romans, very much like Asterix's village, so the Romans kidnap Chief Huevos Y Bacon's son, Pepe. As the Romans are taking him to a garrison in Gaul (as it happens, it is one of the garrisons close the Gaulish village), Asterix and Obelix beat up the Romans under the command of the Roman officer Spurius Brontosaurus and take Pepe to their village. Obelix is assigned to take care of Pepe, but the boy proves to be highly taxing (especially in Obelix's opinion when Pepe and little Dogmatix take a shine to one another), so Asterix and Obelix are assigned to take him back home.
Asterix, Obelix, Pepe and Dogmatix travel to Spain, but little do they know that Spurius Brontosaurus — who has returned to Iberia in the meantime — has spotted them and is now accompanying them in disguise to take Pepe back to Gaul. If Brontosaurus fails, it would mean being fed to the lions in the circus for him.
Brontosaurus sees Asterix and Obelix beat up some bandits, so he plans to steal the magic potion. That night, when they are asleep, Brontosaurus steals the potion but is caught red-handed by Asterix, and in the subsequent chase both run into a group of Roman legionaries. The legionaries take Asterix and Brontosaurus to the commander-in-chief, who throws Asterix and Brontosaurus in the dungeon. In the circus of Hispalis they are both pitched against an aurochs. A woman drops her red cloak, so Asterix gets it. The aurochs keeps on charging at him, so he gets the cloak out of the aurochs's way to keep it from getting dirty, thereby introducing bullfighting. With his victory, Asterix is released, and Spurius Brontosaurus, discharged from the army, gladly decides to make his living as a bullfighter.
Obelix has meanwhile brought Pepe back to his village. Asterix arrives at the village which is being besieged by Romans. In his eagerness to be re-united with Asterix, Obelix rushes through the Roman lines, scattering them all over the place. They then say a tearful goodbye to Pepe and the Iberians and return to Gaul for the usual banquet, Obelix giving a demonstration of Spanish dancing and singing that, it is hinted by Fulliautomatix (by muttering "A fish, a fish, my kingdom for a fish!") will lead to one of the typical internal fights in the Gaulish village.
- The taking of children as hostages was not unknown in ancient times and was a practice that would last several centuries. It was usually the result of negotiations and was a means of maintaining an uneasy truce. Hostages were mostly well treated by their takers, as is shown by Caesar's insistence that Pepe be treated with the respect due to his being a chieftain's son. An example is the young Roman Aëtius who was given as a hostage to Alaric I the Visigoth and thus gained first-hand knowledge of the barbarians' way of life and methods of battle. This was to prove invaluable when, in later life, he was to fight against a childhood acquaintance named Attila the Hun.
- Pepe in the beginning confronts Julius Caesar armed with a sling and says "You shall not pass". This is a reference to the ¡No pasarán! speech delivered in Madrid by Dolores Ibárruri Gómez during the Spanish Civil War.
- Various scenes depict stereotypical behaviour associated with Spaniards like their pride, their nature to be hotblooded and the cliché that their roads aren't very good (page 34). On page 38 the generally slow aid for car problems is spoofed too.
- The line "I think he is receiving an ear because he fought well in battle" on page 1 may be either a reference to the corrida, where a bull fighter receives the ear and tail of a bull if he fought a good fight with the animal, or to Napoleon's habit of pulling on a favourite soldier's ear as a reward.
- The scenes where various Gauls and Goths (Germans) travel in house chariots are a parody on the vacations in Spain in motor homes.
- The knight and his servant whom Asterix, Obelix and Pepe encounter are depictions of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This is made clear by their visual appearance and the fact that the knight madly wants to attack windmills.
- When the frightened Roman Brontosaurus tries to act like he's Spanish, his knees shake against each other. Pepe says "his knees make a nice sound, as if they accompany him." This is a reference to castanets which make a similar sound when used while singing.
- The travelers witness, in every town they cross, processions of druids, a very clear reference to the deeply rooted like for religious processions among Spanish people.
- The conductor in the arena, featured on page 44, is a caricature of French conductor Gérard Calvi.
- The final scenes are a fictional theory of the origin of bull fighting as having been originated by Asterix, which subsequently becomes a tradition in Spain.
- The line, "A fish. My kingdom for a fish." uttered on the last page, is a reference to William Shakespeare's play Richard III, where Richard says the nearly exact same line, except for the fact that he is referring to a horse. The line is also referenced with Asterix in Britain's Chief Mykingdomforanos.
- Like many Asterix stories this book does not fit well with real world chronology. For example, although the Iberian peninsula had long been controlled by Rome, this album specifically mentions the Battle of Munda, which took place in 45 BC (also mentioned) and thus about a year prior to Caesar's assassination. However, he still appears in nearly 20 following albums which take place over a much greater time period.
- It is also the first to feature a fight between the villagers — like many that follow it is started by Unhygenix's fish.
- Pepe's skill with the sling may be a historical nod to the ancient slingers of the Balearic Islands, who were famous in their time for their skill with this weapon. The Carthagean general Hannibal, and later the Romans, made extensive use of their skill in their armies.
In other languages
- Catalan: Astèrix a Hispània
- Basque:Asterix Hispanian
- Croatian:Asteriks u Španjolskoj
- Czech: Asterix v Hispánii
- Dutch: Asterix in Hispania
- Finnish: Asterix Hispaniassa
- Galician: Astérix en Hispania
- German: Asterix in Spanien
- Greek: Ο Αστερίξ στην Ισπανία
- Icelandic: Ástríkur á Spáni
- Indonesian: "Asterix di Spanyol"
- Italian: Asterix in Iberia
- Norwegian: Asterix i Spania
- Polish: Asterix w Hiszpanii
- Portuguese: Astérix na Hispânia
- Russian: Астерикс в Испании
- Slovene:Asterix v Hispánii
- Spanish: Astérix en Hispania
- Turkish: Asteriks İspanya'da
- Astérix en Hispanie annotations (French)