Asterix and Caesar's Gift

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Asterix and Caesar's Gift
(Le Cadeau de César)
Asterixcover-21.jpg
Date1977
SeriesAsterix
Creative team
WritersRene Goscinny
ArtistsAlbert Uderzo
Original publication
Date of publication1974
LanguageFrench
Chronology
Preceded byAsterix in Corsica
Followed byAsterix 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).[1] It was the first Asterix adventure that was not published in serial form in Pilote magazine prior to its publication as a book.[2]

Synopsis[edit]

Having completed twenty years of service in the Roman Army, veteran legionaries Tremensdelirius and Egganlettus await their honesta missio (Latin:honorary discharge) in the morning, but that night a drunk Tremensdelirius insults Julius Caesar and gets arrested. When Caesar is informed of Tremensdelirius's mishap, he decides to play a practical joke on him. Caesar awards a "special gift" to Tremensdelirius: Asterix's village in Armorica, the only territory of Gaul not yet conquered by the Roman legions. Tremensdelirius sees little merit in a gift he cannot drink and attempts to sell it immediately to Egganlettus, who refuses. Tremensdelirius winds up exchanging the gift for wine and food at an inn in Lutetia, owned by Orthopaedix.

Orthopaedix, his wife Angina and daughter Influenza arrive at "their" new village only to be disappointed to find it already inhabited. They try to convince the villagers that they own the land, but Vitalstatistix dismisses their claim as absurd. With no place to go, Angina berates her husband for selling their inn to travel to Armorica. Vitalstatistix overhears the conversation and decides to offer Orthopaedix a building next to the fish-stall to open a new inn. Obelix helps the new family and soon has a crush on Influenza. Geriatrix doesn't like Orthopaedix 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.

On the new inn's opening night, the villagers are invited to attend but after Vitalstatistix and his wife Impedimenta arrive, Impedimenta and Angina start arguing about who owns the village. Meanwhile a comment by Angina about the smell of fish sets off Unhygienix and Fulliautomatix's rivalry, and a fight starts. The inn is trashed as a result.

The morning finds the inn abandoned except for the bruised Orthopaedix, a sobbing Angina and Influenza. Orthopaedix 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 has Cacofonix obtain an opinion poll of the villagers. The results are disappointing: aside from Geriatix, the villagers don't really care. Hoping to win the support of the villagers, both candidates and their wives start offering markedly insincere voices 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 Orthopaedix, but then thinks Vitalstatistix is weak and tries to stand for Chief himself. Asterix becomes worried that internal conflict could benefit the Romans. Meanwhile, Tremensdelirius arrives at the village to visit Orthopaedix and explains that since their last meeting he unsuccessfully tried all kinds of trade. Thus he wants his land back, saying that veterans are not allowed to sell their shares to Gauls. When the family attempts to throw him out, he draws his sword. Asterix arrives and the two fight, with Asterix winning. Influenza is impressed by the diminutive Gaulish warrior, while Tremensdelirius leaves, swearing revenge.

Tremensdelirius goes to the Laudanum Roman camp 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 Tremensdelirius makes an official request to the centurion to restore his land. The centurion is 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 demotes Egganlettus 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 warn everyone about the mysterious Roman (Tremensdelrius), but his warning falls on deaf ears. Hence, Asterix decides to investigate the forest himself and discovers that the Romans are preparing siege weapons for an extended campaign. The Romans see him, but are afraid to attack, allowing him to escape. However his escape means the Romans become convinced that the Gauls can no longer resist the Romans, and 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 Orthopaedix, with Cacofonix serving as a referee. When Vitalstatistix 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, too disgusted by the Gaulish in-fighting. When Orthopaedix and Vitalstatistix stop fighting each other, Getafix finally agrees to help them. The rival factions of villagers combine their efforts against the Romans and counterattack, demolishing the war machines. Orthopaedix himself confronts Tremensdelirius and smashes Caesar's stone tablet on Tremensdelirius's head. Egganlettus realizes his friend's treacherous nature and attacks Tremensdelirius as well. Having suffered a resounding defeat, the centurion demotes Egganlettus back to second-class legionary.

The Gauls are reconciled following their victory. A much more confident Orthopaedix 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 Orthopaedix angrily makes it clear that the decision has been made and there is no room for argument. 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.

Commentary[edit]

  • The granting of land to Roman soldiers after long years of service is historically true.
  • Tremensdelirius, in English, was named after his drunkenness; in the original French language his name is given as Roméomontaigus 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.
  • Orthopaedix 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), and therefore interprets Asterix's victory over Tremensdelirius, in which he cut the letter 'Z' in Tremensdelirius' clothing, as dedicated to her. In fact 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 includes references to the climactic swordfight in Hamlet.)
  • Vitalstatistix and his brother-in-law Homeopathix confront each other in person at the beginning and the finale of Asterix and the Laurel Wreath, and Impedimenta entertains hopes of the two entering a partnership in Asterix and the Soothsayer; whereas here, Vitalstatistix befriends Orthopaedix on grounds that the latter, like himself, has quarreled with in-laws in Lutetia.
  • This is the second time Vitalstatistix is challenged by a contender to the leadership of the village, and the first time his leadership is challenged by the population of the village. He is not challenged again until Asterix and the Secret Weapon.
  • This is the first time the Gauls of the story are shown electing leaders as if in democracy; but here, the leader has no fixed term and retains leadership until challenged; potentially until death.
  • This story has one of only a few scenes where Asterix uses his sword, and one of an equally few in which 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 of 1974, date of publication of the album. Election day is mentioned as set for the celebration day of Lugh; but the election is cancelled after the withdrawal of Orthopaedix.
  • In some of the scenes (after Vitalstatistix falls off his shield), there is a hen in love with Vitalstatistix's helmet.

Reception[edit]

On Goodreads, it has a score of 4.10 out of 5.[3]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Le Cadeau de César - Astérix - Le site officiel". www.asterix.com (in French). Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  2. ^ René Goscinny - Asterix and Caesar's Gift - Hachette Children's Group.
  3. ^ "Asterix and Caesar's Gift (Astérix #21)". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 2018-10-03.