Asterix and the Banquet
|Asterix and the Banquet
(Le Tour de Gaule d'Astérix)
|Date of publication||1965|
|Preceded by||Asterix the Gladiator|
|Followed by||Asterix and Cleopatra|
Asterix and the Banquet is the fifth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was first serialized in Pilote magazine, issues 172-213, in 1963.
Fed up with the resistance the indomitable Gauls show, Julius Caesar sends Inspector General Overanxius to the camp of Compendium. Once there, Overanxius sees Centurion Lotuseatus and takes command of his men to lead them on an attack of the Gaulish Village (much to the delight of Obelix, who has been getting bored from no recent Roman attacks lately), but as usual (and despite Lotuseatus's warnings about the Gauls' magic potion), the Gauls repel the attack. Undeterred, Overanxius attempts a new strategy: setting up a stockade around the village to keep the Gauls contained and prevent them spreading their rebellious ideas to the rest of Gaul.
When Asterix, Obelix and Vitalstatistix see this, Asterix makes a bet with Overanxius that he and Obelix will get out of the village and go on a tour of Gaul, collecting the various specialties of the towns they visit and inviting him to a banquet at the conclusion, with which Overanxius promises to raise the stockade if the Gauls succeed. Once they've mapped out a route, Asterix and Obelix take a large sack, start out and go through the stockade, while the rest of the village attacks the stockade on another front, sidetracking the Romans from stopping the pair. However, Lotuseatus knows who Asterix and Obelix are and dispatches a messenger under Overanxius's orders as Overanxius is determined to win his side of the bet.
Rotomagus (Rouen): The next day, Asterix and Obelix make their way to the Normandy region, where they spot a Roman rider, but upon arrival in Rotomagus, they realize the rider was a messenger when a Roman patrol recognizes them. The pair make their escape by winding through the streets (with the added help of the inhabitants of Rotomagus giving the patrol clueless answers) and taking over control of a wealthy Roman couple's yacht down the Seine.
Lutetia (Paris): After arrival in Lutetia, Asterix and Obelix make their way through the traffic jams and buy ham from a butcher shop (where from this point on, Dogmatix (unnamed until the next adventure) follows the duo through Gaul), but have to make a premature departure when a wagon driver spies a Roman patrol coming (only he wants the patrol to get a wine cart driver (revealed to be the source of the traffic jam) to move his cart out of the way). However, when Asterix and Obelix decide to get out of town by chariot, a con man sells them a chariot and horse where the horse is only painted black and the chariot has a loose wheel, but the duo gets back on track when they knock out the driver of a Roman break down chariot and take the chariot.
Camaracum (Cambrai): The Gauls stop in a humbug shop to buy humbugs, but after doing so are ambushed by a Roman patrol whom they beat up (trashing the shop in the process). However, the shopkeeper proves that all civilian Gauls are on the pair's side throughout this bet by knocking out the centurion just as he's beginning to recover. Out on the roads, as they've still got the break down chariot, Asterix and Obelix find the perfect opportunity to get past another Roman patrol when they "help" legionary Spongefingus get his disabled chariot past and then lose him.
Rheims (Reims): Asterix and Obelix abandon the break down chariot and buy some wine. Before they leave, they are ambushed by Spongefingus, who has recovered from his "accident," but Asterix manages to knock him out with the use of an amphora that pops its cork too easily.
Divodurum (Metz): After leaving Rheims, the pair are hungry, but can't eat the food for the banquet just yet, so they drop in on the home of Unpatriotix (where Obelix forgets he always ends up smashing in doors when he knocks) to ask for boar. However, instead of helping them, Unpatriotix intends to betray his fellow countrymen buy ratting the pair out to the Romans for money, but this plan backfires when the Romans only capture Asterix (as Obelix went out boar hunting at the time). When Obelix discovers the ruse, he knocks out a legionary to get to prison too and succeeds in rescuing Asterix. After beating up the Romans in charge of the prison, Asterix decides it was risky to buy any of Divodurum's specialties and decides to buy some in Lugdunum. As they leave, the Gauls commandeer a Roman postal cart.
Lugdunum (Lyon): The next day, upon arrival, the Gauls abandon the postal cart and, after crashing through a Roman blockade, meet Jellibabix, head of the resistance movement. To stall the Romans from finding the duo, Jellibabix pretends to betray the Gauls by coming to Prefect Poisonous Fungus, but lures them into the maze of back alleys where the garrison find themselves hopelessly lost (the prefect's plan to leave behind a trail of pebbles to find his way out backfires when a pea-brained legionary picks up the pebbles). Jellibabix gives the duo a parcel of sausages and meatballs and Asterix and Obelix leave by chariot.
Nicae (Nice): En route to Nicae, Asterix and Obelix get stuck in holiday traffic bound for the Gaulish Riviera and stop at an inn for lunch (where Obelix gets, to his disgust, veal). Once they arrive in Nicae, the Gauls buy salad and have to make a premature departure when a Roman patrol spies them. To lose the patrol, Asterix and Obelix escape by sea and commandeer a boat, which they take to Massilia, much to the protest of a vacationing Lutetian who already had too much trouble finding room and board in Nicae.
Massilia (Marseille): Once they arrive in Massilia, the Gauls stop in Cesar Drinklikafix's inn where, aside from having goat's milk and boar, they buy fish stew. Again, the pair makes a premature departure when they hear from a boy that a Roman patrol is coming, but Drinklikafix and his friends stall the patrol with a game of bowling.
Tolosa (Toulouse): En route to Tolosa, night is coming on, so Asterix and Obelix settle down (unknowingly) in a Roman camp. When they discover this in the morning, they beat up the Romans, but then pretend to surrender to them after learning that the Centurion intended to take them to Tolosa by cart. The Gauls are soon chained up, but break them (much to the blacksmith's dismay). Once out on the road, the Centurion rides on ahead to bring over the prefect, but in his absence, Asterix and Obelix beat up the Romans again, make off with the cart, and buy sausages in Tolosa.
Aginum (Agen): Uptotrix learns about the Gauls' arrival and tells the prefect of Aginum that he plans to serve them drugged food so there will be no resistance when the Romans come to apprehend Asterix and Obelix. When the Gauls do arrive, Uptotrix guides them to his inn, where he gives them a bag of prunes and serves them drugged boars. Asterix, however, has sensed that Uptotrix intends to betray them just like Unpatriotix did and demands Uptotrix to taste test the boar, of which his suspicions prove correct when the would-be traitor drops off to sleep after eating the boar (Obelix remains unaffected due to his overindulgence of the magic potion cancelling out the effects of the drugs). The pair then make a hasty retreat, but leave the cart in Aginum and take the horses (much to one of them's dismay as Obelix's weight plus the bag's are too heavy for him).
Burdigala (Bordeaux): En route, the Gauls rest for the night, but while they do, a pair of Roman highwaymen (Villanus and Unscrupulus) steal the Gauls' food sack. The next morning, after seeing they've been robbed, Asterix and Obelix pursue the thieves, only to hide when a Roman patrol intercepts the thieves and mistakes them for the Gauls. In the town square of Burdigala, General Motus shows the "Gaulish Outlaws" to the public, only to realize that he has the wrong men when Asterix and Obelix suddenly appear (to clear the highwaymen's names and reclaim their sack). Still proving they're behind their heroes' backs, the public attacks and beats up General Motus and his men while the duo reclaim their sack and buy oysters and white wine before leaving.
Gesocribatum (Le Conquet): Before leaving Burdigala, Asterix and Obelix spy a ship offloading menhirs and meet Captain Seniorservix, who is more than honored to let them on his ship as Obelix helps unload the menhirs before the ship's departure. Out at sea, the ship runs into the recurring pirates, who lose their own ship thanks to Asterix and Obelix. Soon after arrival in Gesocribatum, knowing that the place is a military port, Seniorservix smuggles the Gauls on to shore in sacks (along with the Gauls' sack). Asterix and Obelix end up getting out at the wrong time when a Roman patrol happens to pass by, but they beat up the patrol and are able to escape thanks to Gesocribatum's disorganized way of raising the alarm
Eventually, the pair reach the stockade outside their village and, after beating up the Romans yet again, give them a message to tell Overanxius that the Gauls have won their side of the bet. That night, after being welcomed home by the villagers, Asterix shows the food to Overanxius and Lotuseatus, then says they forgot the specialty of this village. He shows the special cut of the village to Overanxius, 'The uppercut,' which knocks him out. At this point, Dogmatix finally barks, making Obelix notice him and adopt him as his pet dog (and the village mascot) while the villagers have their banquet.
List of items
- Lutetia (Paris): ham
- Camaracum (Cambrai): humbugs (in the English translation; in the original a similar sweet called "Bêtises de Cambrai")
- Durocortorum (Reims): Champagne (not named as such)
- Lugdunum (Lyon) sausages and quenelles
- Nicæ (Nice): Niçoise salad (named "Nicæoise" salad)
- Massilia (Marseilles) fish stew (i.e. bouillabaisse)
- Tolosa (Toulouse): sausages
- Aginum (Agen): prunes
- Burdigala (Bordeaux): oysters and white wine
The idea of the story (and its French title) was inspired by the Tour de France bicycle race. The sack carried by Obelix reflects the race leader's jersey colour (yellow — with a patch for the number).
The Latin phrase "Exegi monumentum aere perennius" is uttered by a legionnaire during the construction of a wall (page 7). This is a reference to the same quote made by the Roman poet Horace. Translated, it means: "I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze." Fun is poked at various French regional stereotypes:
- The inhabitants of Normandy are shown as being unable to give a direct answer and smothering their food in creamy sauce.
- The traffic jams in Paris (Lutetia in the comic strip) are spoofed.
- The phrase: "Je vous promets qu'on n'a pas fini d'en parler de l'affaire du courrier de Lugdunum !" is a reference to the trial "le courrier de Lyon", where an innocent one was sentenced for the murder of postmen and the theft of their mail in 1796.
- The inhabitants of Lutetia (Paris) are shown going to Nicæ (Nice) for their summer holiday. (Obelix refers to Nicae as the "Gaulish Riviera".) Like modern Parisian travelers, the visitors from Lutetia cause huge traffic jams with their carts on the road into Nicæ, and huge crowds on the beach.
- The inhabitants of Massilia (Marseille) are hot-blooded and shown to exaggerate enormously.
The idea of using pebbles to find one's way back is a reference to Hansel and Gretel or the French fairy tale Hop o' My Thumb. However a 'helpful' Roman Soldier picks up the pebbles for the Roman Official, trapping him in the maze also.
The scenes in the tavern in Massilia on page 36 are references to the films Marius (1931), Fanny (1932) and César (1936) by Marcel Pagnol, which all take place in Marseille. The characters are caricatures of the actors in the film, including Raimu. . The card game scene is a reference to "Marius" and the pétanque scène to "Fanny". 
After Asterix and Obelix sink the pirates ship, an elderly pirate quotes Lucan in The Pharsalia: "Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa catoni." ("The victorious cause was pleasing to the gods, but the lost cause was pleasing to Cato.")
- On the cover of the album, the sack is coloured incorrectly (green with a yellow patch).
- In the original French version, the camp centurion in this story (Gracchus Nenjetépus) is the same as that of the previous volume, Asterix the Gladiator — the only time a centurion appears in more than one album. However, in all major translations, he is given a different name in this volume (in the English version, he is named Gracchus Armisurplus in Asterix the Gladiator, and Lotuseatus in this album).
- Dogmatix is introduced in this book. He is first seen outside the pork butcher's shop in Lutetia. He follows Asterix and Obelix (who do not notice him during the entire journey) all across Gaul back to their village. Obelix notices him before the victory feast because he barks for the very first time and is rewarded with a bone.
- Dogmatix was originally supposed to be a literally running gag in this story alone. However, the authors decided that he should stay in the series as a mascot, violating Goscinny's original no-pets rule.
- In the first version, the tour was supposed to go the other way around.
- In another initial version, other towns were considered but eliminated for lack of space:
- This marks the introduction of the running gag of Obelix vehemently protesting the implication that he is fat; while he had referred to himself as 'medium' in size in Asterix and the Goths, in Asterix the Gladiator Asterix informed him that he was too fat to pose as a lion to infiltrate the Circus and Obelix merely commented that he wished he had known that, while here he shows evident anger at anyone who calls him fat or even indirectly refers to him as 'the fat man', claiming that he is 'just not skinny'.
- First time an Asterix book makes reference to past adventures. The first instance being after Overanxius agrees to lift the stockade if the Gauls win the bet, Obelix tells him to give Asterix and Obelix's best regards to Caius Fatuous, whom the pair humiliated in Asterix the Gladiator. The second reference to a previous adventure comes when Asterix and Obelix discover that Lutetia's traffic problems haven't been sorted out since their last visit there, of which a footnote tells readers to look back at the book Asterix and the Golden Sickle.
- The book is notable for a major plot hole: at the beginning of the book, Asterix and Obelix promise to bring back French food and drink from all of the French towns they visit on their journey: is they succeed in doing so, Overanxius will remove the barricade. In fact, the duo fail to complete their promise - they do not manage to collect specialties from either Rotomagus or Divodurum, and thus in fact lose the bet they make with Overanxius, however everyone (Romans and Gauls) behave at the end of the book as if the Gauls actually had won the bet.