Asterix and the Laurel Wreath

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Asterix and the Laurel Wreath
(Les Lauriers de César)
Asterixcover-18.jpg
Date 1974
Series Asterix
Creative team
Writers René Goscinny
Artists Albert Uderzo
Original publication
Date of publication 1971
Language French
Chronology
Preceded by The Mansions of the Gods
Followed by Asterix and the Soothsayer

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (French: Les Lauriers de César, "Caesar's Laurels") is the eighteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in the magazine Pilote, issues 621-642, in 1971 and translated into English in 1974.

Plot summary[edit]

The story begins in Rome where Asterix and Obelix are talking; but flashes back to Lutetia where Asterix, Obelix, Chief Vitalstatistix, and the chief's wife Impedimenta visit Impedimenta's brother Homeopathix: a rich businessman who immediately shows off his wealth. At dinner, Vitalstatistix quickly becomes drunk and boasts that as a Chief he can obtain for Homeopathix something money cannot possibly buy: a stew seasoned with Julius Caesar's laurel wreath; whereupon the equally drunk Obelix volunteers himself and Asterix to fetch the wreath.

In Rome, Asterix and Obelix see a man coming out of Caesar's palace; and upon discovering that he is a kitchen slave there, offer themselves to the slave trader Typhus, who supplies Caesar's palace. When Typhus' other slaves provoke the Gauls into a fight, the wealthy patrician Osseus Humerus is amused and offers to buy them; whereupon Asterix mistakes him for Caesar's major-domo, and completes the sale. Upon discovery of their mistake, the Gauls are placed under the supervision of Goldendelicius, Humerus' chief slave. Goldendelicius soon expresses dislike of the two Gauls on grounds that they come from Typhus (a mark of distinction among slaves), and fears that they might usurp his office.

Disappointed by their mistake, Asterix and Obelix cook a volatile stew, which accidentally cures Humerus' heavy-drinking son Metatarsus of his constant hangovers; and disturb the sleeping family by making noise, which only inspires the family to throw a party. As a result, Humerus suffers a headache and sends the Gauls to Caesar's palace to justify his absence to a secretary there. Goldendelicius, fearing that Asterix and Obelix will usurp his job, tells the palace's guards that the Gauls intend to kill Caesar. As a result, Asterix and Obelix are thrown into the palace prison upon arrival; but escape during the night and search the palace for the laurel wreath, to no avail. Frustrated and tired, they return to their cell, much to the confusion of the palace guards, and decide to seize the wreath from Caesar himself.

The next morning a lawyer comes to defend Asterix and Obelix in a show trial for the "attempt" on Caesar's life; but takes for granted that they will be found guilty and thrown to the lions in the Circus Maximus, which Caesar himself might attend. When the prosecutor announces the same initial speech intended by the defense lawyer, the latter calls for a suspension in proceedings. Anxious to be sentenced to the Circus in order to catch Caesar, Asterix himself speaks for the prosecution, outlining all the "wrongdoings" committed by himself and Obelix. The whole audience, including Typhus and the Humerus family, is moved by this plea, and the Gauls are sentenced to death in the Circus. In the cells, they enjoy luxurious food funded by Typhus and Humerus; but as they are about to enter the arena, Asterix and Obelix learn that Caesar is not present, having gone off to fight pirates. Therefore, the Gauls refuse to go into the arena until he returns, which results in the big cats in the arena eating each other, a mass riot of the audience, and everyone (including Asterix and Obelix and the last remaining lion) evicted from the circus.

That night, Asterix and Obelix sleep at a doorway, where they are woken by brigands. When the latter are defeated in the resulting fight, their chief Habeascorpus offers Asterix and Obelix shelter in return for their participation in their raids. The next night, the gang discover the drunken Metatarsus; and refusing to attack an innocent, Asterix and Obelix vanquish the bandits again. From Metatarsus, the two Gauls learn that Goldendelicius has been appointed as Caesar's personal slave, and Caesar himself is due to hold a triumph for his victory over the pirates. Asterix and Obelix corner Goldendelicius in a tavern (where he has fallen into a drunken sleep) and coerce him to exchange Caesar's laurel wreath for one of parsley. The next day, during the triumph, Goldendelicius holds the wreath over Caesar's head, and Caesar does not acknowledge the switch, but secretly "feels like a piece of fish".

Upon Asterix and Obelix's return, Homeopathix arrives in his brother-in-law's village in order to eat the stew containing Caesar's laurel wreath, and Vitalstatistix states that a wealthy man like him would never eat such a meal in his own house. Homeopathix "agrees" by sarcastically pointing out that it is overcooked and of poor quality, which provokes Vitalstatistix to strike him senseless. The album ends with the note that, with Asterix's cure for drunkenness now available to the Romans, they initiate a series of ever-increasing parties that result in the collapse of the empire.

Named characters[edit]

  • Asterix
  • Obelix
  • Vitalstatistix
  • Impedimenta - Vitalstatistix' wife
  • Homeopathix - Impedimenta's brother
  • Tapioca - Homeopathix' wife
  • Kumakros - One of Caesar's slaves
  • Typhus - Owner of The House Of Typhus
  • Osseus Humerus
  • Fibula - Osseus Humerus' wife
  • Tibia - Osseus Humerus' daughter
  • Metatarsus - Osseus Humerus' son
  • Goldendelicius - Osseus Humerus' slave, now Caesar's slave
  • Titus Nisiprius - lawyer
  • Habeascorpus - Chief of a group of thieves
  • Julius Caesar

Notes[edit]

  • This is by far the most adult-oriented of all the Asterix stories. It includes drunkenness, human slavery, debauchery, particularly graphic violence, androgyny, and instances of humour requiring (for Asterix) an unusually sophisticated knowledge of art and history to fully understand it. There is an implicit acknowledgement of this in that Dogmatix (a favourite with younger readers) makes only a token (2 panel) appearance, and the lettering in the original version of this album uses a style more cursive and difficult to read than usual, again discouraging younger readers (the updated version released in 2004 uses the same lettering style as all the other Asterix stories).
  • At Typhus's store (page 16), a male slave makes poses based on famous statues: Auguste Rodin's The Thinker, Apollon of Olympia, the Laocoon, and the Discobolus.
  • The lawyers in Asterix and Obelix' trial intend to make use of the phrase Delenda Carthago for dramatic effect. This sentence ("Carthage must be destroyed") was a favorite finishing sentence of Cato the Elder in each of his senate speeches.
  • The Circus Maximus jailer makes a cameo appearance in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix. He is the only one-shot background character to do so.
  • The trainer standing next to the lion on page 40 is a caricature of Jean Richard, a French actor who ran a zoo and a circus outside Paris.
  • Caesar's campaign against the pirates (here the ones Asterix and Obelix frequently encounter) was inspired by a real incident wherein a younger Caesar was captured by pirates who demanded a ransom for his return — and which he himself subsequently increased on the grounds that he was worth more. The ransom was paid and Caesar released; but he later captured and executed the pirates,[1] as he himself had promised them during his captivity.

In other languages[edit]

  • Arabic: أستريكس و إكليـل الغار (Asteriks we-iklil el-ghar)
  • Catalan: Els llorers del Cèsar
  • Croatian: Cezarove lovorike
  • Czech: Asterix a Vavřínový věnec
  • Danish: Cæsars laurbær
  • Dutch: De lauwerkrans van Caesar
  • Finnish: Asterix ja Caesarin laakeriseppele (also translated into Helsinki slang under the title Kessen rehukotsa, roughly meaning "Caesie's weed hat")
  • German: Die Lorbeeren des Cäsar
  • Greek: Οι δάφνες του Καίσαρα
  • Italian: Asterix e gli allori di Cesare
  • Norwegian: Cæsars laurbær
  • Polish: Laury Cezara
  • Portuguese: Os louros de César
  • Serbian: Цезаров венац
  • Spanish: Los laureles del César
  • Swedish: Caesar Lagerkrans
  • Turkish: Asteriks ve Sezar'ın Tacı
  • Welsh: Asterix a choron Cesar

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pirates by Joshua B. Feder, published by Friedman Group, 1992