Asterix at the Olympic Games
|Asterix at the Olympic Games
(Astérix aux Jeux olympiques)
|Date of publication||1968|
|Preceded by||Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Cauldron|
Asterix at the Olympic Games is the 12th comic book album in the Asterix series. Serialized in Pilote issues 434–455 in 1968 (to coincide with the Mexico City Olympics), it was translated into English in 1972 (to coincide with the Munich Olympics). The story satirizes performance-enhancing drug usage in sports.
Gluteus Maximus (a muscular, arrogant Roman legionnaire) is chosen as one of Rome's representatives at the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece in order to be promoted to centurion. Gaius Veriambitius, his centurion, hopes that the glory that goes with Olympic victory will reflect well on him as well by being promoted to consul, but while training in the forest Gluteus Maximus encounters Asterix and Obelix, who easily outdo him (unintentionally) with the power of the magic potion and leave him demoralised, reduced to sweeping the camp with broom. When Veriambitius asks Vitalstatistix to see to it that Gluteus Maximus is left alone - and after Getafix explains about the Games - Vitalstatistix decides that the Gauls should enter as well. Veriambitius argues that they can't, as Romans are the only non-Greeks allowed, but Asterix rationalizes that as Gaul is part of the Roman Empire, they are technically Romans (despite their resistance to Roman rule), making them a Gallo-Roman team, demoralising the centurion and his legionnaire depressed further. The entire (male) population of the village go to Olympia (aboard a galley where they have to do the rowing) where they meet the pirates again, where Asterix and Obelix register as athletes (with Getafix as their coach) and the others all enjoy a holiday. When Gluteus Maximus and Veriambitius discover the Gauls have come to compete, they are left hopeless (Vitalstatistix telling them "We're not stopping you entering, it's just that we're going to win" is no comfort at all), and this spreads to all of the other Roman athletes. They give up training and spend all their time having elaborate parties, washing their uniforms and sweeping the whole area which causes the Greek competitors to complain about their need for healthy diets.
An Olympic judge ultimately warns the Romans that even if they think drinking will somehow make them better athletes, it will be held against them as all artificial stimulants are forbidden, prompting Veriambitius to tell him about the Gauls' magic potion. Our heroes are left gutted by the news that victory is not as certain as they had expected, but Asterix heroically vows he will compete anyway. Obelix, being permanently affected by the potion, now cannot compete and anyway doesn't quite get what's going on - he thinks he's been dismissed just because he fell into a cauldron and spends the story wondering if telling the officials he fell into a regular pot or amphora will change anything.
Asterix (sensibly only competing in the races) and the Roman athletes are beaten at every turn by the Greeks - causing a dilemma to the Olympic officials. Although their victories prove what they've believed all along (that Romans are decadent barbarians and the Greeks the perfect beings), too much success will reflect badly on the country's reputation, so they announce a special race for just the Romans and Asterix. After the announcement, Asterix and Getafix start talking, very loudly, about a cauldron of magic potion left in a prominent place. That night the Romans get into a shed that isn't guarded at night, and take the potion.
The race begins, and every Roman easily beats Asterix by several laps. Getafix suddenly accuses them of having used magic potion and, when the Romans deny, Asterix sticks his tongue out at them. When the Romans return the gesture, it is revealed that Getafix added an extra ingredient to this particular batch of potion and the Romans now have blue tongues from drinking it. They are disqualified, and Asterix is declared the winner.
The Gauls return home for their traditional banquet and Getafix notices Asterix hasn't brought his Palm of Victory home. Asterix explains he gave it to someone who needed it more: Gluteus Maximus, whose apparent victory is shown to have pleased Julius Caesar greatly, promoting Maximus to centurion and Veriambitius to cconsul.
Appearance by Goscinny and Uderzo
Asterix authors Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo make a small appearance in the comic, not as characters. The two officials registering athletes for the Olympics sit in front of a wall with a mural, which shows two men in Greek attire talking while patting a cow and the names "Goscinny" and "Uderzo" below them in Greek letters.