Asterix and the Secret Weapon
|Asterix and the Secret Weapon
(La Rose et le Glaive)
|Date of publication||1991|
|Preceded by||Asterix and the Magic Carpet|
|Followed by||Asterix and Obelix All at Sea|
Asterix and the Secret Weapon is the twenty-ninth volume of the Asterix comic book series and the fifth by Albert Uderzo alone. It parodies feminism, gender-equality/relationships, and military secrets.
The story begins when a female bard named Bravura is being hired by the women of the village, who think that Cacofonix is giving their children a poor education. Upon hearing this, Cacofonix secludes himself in the forest nearby. When Bravura arrives, the women are stunned by her singing and the men laugh at it; much to her annoyance. Over the next few days, Bravura exhorts Impedimenta (and later other village women) to resist the authority of her husband. Impedimenta then quarrels with Vitalstatistix, who joins Cacofonix in the forest. Impedimenta is then made chief by the women, while the men do not dare vote against their wives. Meanwhile, Julius Caesar, to take over the village, sends his agent Manlius Claphamomnibus, with orders to bring the "secret weapon" over the ocean discreetly. At the village, Bravura's reforms spread discord among all the locals. Asterix, troubled by all of this from the start, is met by Bravura, who offers to marry him and assume joint chieftainship; whereupon Asterix accuses her of coming to the village to seize power. When she kisses him, Asterix hits her out of reflex, but feels shame and regret immediately after. For striking a woman, Impedimenta expels Asterix from the village; when Getafix objects to this, Bravura insults him. Immediately, Getafix and the other village men join Vitalstatistix in the forest.
Claphamomnibus's ship lands at Gaul, and he reveals the secret weapon: female legionaries, whom the Gaulish men would refuse to fight for fear of being dishonored. Asterix, when he learns of this, is sent to warn the village women of the threat, whereupon the women supply him and Obelix with warm clothes for their husbands. Bravura tries to meet the women as an ambassador, but she is refused, and Claphamomnibus insults her. At this, Asterix approaches Bravura with a plan. His initial step is to have Cacofonix sing onomatopoeia in the forest, causing rain and scaring all animals (in one scene exposing a dragon), which in turn terrifies the female Roman scout parties. When the Roman women attack the village, Bravura converts the village into a shopping mall where the women buy clothes and get their hair and makeup done. In the meantime, the men of the village defeat the male soldiers stationed around the village; and finally, Cacofonix sings again to expel the women. Julius Caesar is made the laughing stock of Rome, and Bravura leaves for Lutetia, reconciled with Asterix.
- The original French title is La Rose et le Glaive (The Rose and the Glaive). The word glaive in French is used to designate both a Roman Gladius and a long spear with a shaped blade on the end. The French title may refer to 1953 film "The Sword and the Rose", and possibly also Paul Verhoeven's gruesome medieval film "Flesh & Blood" (1985) which is also known as "The Rose and the Sword".
- The name of the Roman official, Manlius Claphamomnibus, is a pun on the English expression "the man on the Clapham omnibus"—a legal term for a reasonably educated and intelligent but non-specialist person, an everyday person against whom a defendant's conduct might be judged in a court of law.
- Cacofonix gets to beat up Fulliautomatix for the second time since Asterix and the Magic Carpet.
- It borrows plot elements and visual gags from a large number of previous stories, including:
- Sending Obelix back to school from Asterix and the Class Act
- Bard sweeping old musical notes out of the tree house (which fall on passersby below) from Asterix and the Goths
- Using female legionaries to defeat the chivalrous Gauls from Asterix as you've never seen him
- Animals fleeing the bard's song we see the same scene as in Asterix and the Normans including a turtle running on its hind legs
- Cacofonix's singing causes rain as in Asterix and the Magic Carpet.
- The village children (with conflict between Unhygenix' and Fulliautomatix') from Asterix in Corsica
- An outsider causing an election to replace the chief from Asterix and Caesar's Gift
- This is the second album in which Asterix is exiled, the first being Asterix and the Cauldron
- Bravura is a caricature, but Uderzo would never confirm who it is. The episode came out just before Édith Cresson was named Prime Minister of France, and Uderzo says in a preliminary note that the two events are not related, even if Bravura does resemble Cresson slightly. She also resembles Christine Ockrent, a famous French journalist and television host, as well as Diana Damrau and boisterous American actress/contralto Lisa Kirk.
In other languages
- Ancient Greek: Μεταξύ ρόδου και ξίφους
- Catalan: La rosa i l'espasa
- Cretan Greek: Σπαθί και τριαντάφυλλο
- Croatian: Ruža i mač
- Czech: Růže a meč
- Danish: Rosen og Svaerdet
- DutchDe roos en het zwaard
- Finnish: Ruusu ja Miekka (also translated into the Karelian dialect under the name Kallija tyttölöi (roughly translatable as Girls of Gaul))
- French: "la rose et le glaive
- German: Asterix und Maestria
- Greek: Ρόδο και ξίφος
- Italian: La Rosa e il Gladio
- Indonesian: "Mawar dan Pedang Bermata Dua"
- Norwegian: Damenes Inntogsmarsj, translates "The Women Marching In"
- Portuguese: A Rosa e o Gládio
- Polish: Róża i miecz
- Pontic Greek: Σπαθιά και τριαντάφυλλα
- Serbian: Ружа и мач
- Spanish: Astérix, la rosa y la espada
- Swedish: Rosen och svärdet