Asterix and Caesar’s Gift (1974)

Le cadeau de César

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

Village under crisis story becomes electioneering lampoon. The satire is in one sense contemporary and in another sense historically accurate because this manner of electioneering was already rife during the late Roman Republic – indeed modern American presidential elections are directly based on the ancient Roman model.

Notable Nomenclature…

  • Tremensdelirious: inebriate Roman veteran.
  • Claudius Egganlettus: horticulturally minded Roman veteran.
  • Orthopaedix: Itinerant Gaulish innkeeper.
  • Angina: his wife, another Impedimenta.
  • Influenza: his coquettish daughter.
  • Tonsillitus: centurion.

Continuity; lack thereof and other gaffes…

  • Asterix and the Big Fight expounds a somewhat more knockabout method of Gaulish electioneering.
  • Vitalstatistix being the leading character of this story allows for ample usage of the unsubtle shield gag. (Just open book at random: there’ll be one.)
  • Vitalstatistix’s annual ablution is once again interrupted (p8).
  • There is a bar-room fishbrawl (p15).
  • More buddy buddy scenes between Asterix and Obelix – this time more male-bondy than cry-on-each-other’s-shoulders-y (pp 30 and 44).

Cleverness and Contemporaneity…

  • Geriatrix puts himself forward as the xenophobic third-way canditate (p25).
  • Orthopaedix serves goat’s-milk on draught (p14).
  • Impedimenta and Angina despise each other mainly because they are so alike to the extent that they both have well-to-do brothers living in Lutetia (p14).
  • It is the wives of the contenders who are the real motivators; and who have the real ambition (throughout electionering sequences).
  • A chicken makes amorous advances to Vitalstatistix’s feathered helmet (p18).
  • Obelix and Influenza’s date does not go to plan (p21).
  • Orthopaedix has a point: surveyors are not likely to interpret a cache of fish bones as the product of electioneering bribery (p22).
  • The Villagers are right to doubt the freshness of Unhygienix’s stock – his last fish delivery was the previous summer (p23).
  • The sword-fight between Asterix and Tremensdelirious offers us Hamlet by way of Zorro (p27).
  • A family of birds laments the environmental pollution that has caused them to take up nest elsewhere (p36).
  • Geriatrix maximises the potential of his election placard (p41).
  • Cacofonix’s best feast yet – not only does he get to eat, but he gets the girl as well (p44).

Those Election strategies in full…

Political espionage…

Cacofonix acts as Vitalstatistix’s informer before turning coat (p17).

Protest songs…

Cacofonix composes “We shall overcome” especially for the occasion (p17).

Bribery, Flattery and outright dishonesty…

  • Angina complements Bacteria’s fish-gutting apron and congratulates Unhygienix on the freshness of his stock (p20).
  • Impedimenta orders 12 anvils from Fulliatomatix (p32).

Sex…

Influenza is sent to ‘persuade’ Obelix that his vote may be appreciated. He is not the most sensitive of lovers though (p20).

At the hustings…

  • Cacofonix is a less than impartial umpire (p37).
  • Orthopaedix accuses Vitalstatistix of intimidation and the misuse of statistics (p38).
  • Vitalstatistix includes his own election bribe to Fulliautomatix when he propunds his economic successes (p38).

Devasting Dialogue…

Geriatrix: You know me, I’ve got nothing against foreigners, some of my best friends are foreigners, but these particular foreigners aren’t from this village! (p12)

Obelix has a tender side…

Picks up Influeza. Literally. (p11)

Chubby-cheeked bloke…

On page 2 – left hand side of the parade. About-to-retire common legionary.

Good or What?

Good. And then some. Goscinny and Uderzo back to form with very assured story that is both satirical and – more to the point – funny.