Asterix and the Soothsayer (1972)
A+O's predictions tend to come true
Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent...
Highly sceptical critique of fortune-tellers, the stance being that they are all charlatans who prey on people's superstitions.
The Gauls' adaptibility to each threat is contrsted with Roman rigidity. (Kessler)
- Prolix: False Soothsayer.
- Voluptuous Arteriosclerosus: Centurion.
- Stasistix: Druid at conference who makes presentation on future Druidical trends.
- Bulbus Crocus: Special envoy from Julius Caesar.
Continuity; lack thereof and other gaffes…
- Getafix's re-visit to the Conference in the Forest of the Carnutes presumably dates this story one year on from Asterix and the Goths. It seems that Getafix does not need A&O as escorts this year (p1). It also seems that Getafix has won the top award for two successive years (p25).
- The first indication that Unhygienix's fish is not of the freshest (p7).
- 3 Fishfights (pp 7, 8 and 34).
- Unsubtle chield gag: someone ought to put a max-headroom sign on that branch (p9).
- We learn that Impedimenta's pet name for Vitaslsatistix is 'Piggywiggy' (p11).
- Geriatrix wife is not called Myopia - the footnote explains that Impedimenta is invoking a goddess (p13).
Cleverness and contemporaneity…
- The parenthesis includes a charming depiction of pate-de-fois-gois production and of a soothsayer predicting 1960s office blocks (p5).
- The parenthesis also includes a depiction of Uderzo's own house (p5).
- The Roman soothsayers have undermined their competitors by insisting/predicting that all Gaulish soothsayers be arrested (p18).
- The optione is portrayed as an utterly dense but conscientious London Policeman, who insists on following his instructions to the letter - he will only arrest Prolix if he is, indeed, a real soothsayer (p18 etc).
- Getafix anticipates urban pollution two millennia years too soon (p27).
- Cacofonix sings "Oh I do like to be beside the Litus" (p29).
- Cacofonix takes his usual banquet place gagged and tied to a tree. Here he fantasises about performing on a proscenium-stage before an adoring crowd (p44).
Those charlatan divination methods in full…
- Examining the flight of birds.
- Examining how much meal can be force-fed to a goose.
- Examining entrails of sacrifical animals.
- Examing the entrail-equivalent of definitively entrail-deficient foodstuffs like beer.
Obelix has a tender side...
Flattered by the soothsayer to believe that he is a great warrior with red pigtails - to the extent that he makes a pass to put the cuckhold's horns on Geriatrix (pp 16 and 40).
Good or what?
Not particularly funny, but a moderately effective story. Prolix the false soothsayer is quite likeable (always a sign of good story telling to have a half-way-sympathetic bad guy) - one admires his cheek in getting the villagers to bring him cakes and beer to read; and sympathises with his no-win attempts to persuade the Romans he really isn't a soothsayer. There's a sort of poetic justice in the fact that he gets off - more or less - scot free.