Chapter 26. Asterix and the Black Gold

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


When the magic potion runs out Asterix & Obelix must travel to the Middle East to obtain a vital ingredient. Along the way, a Roman spy tries to thwart their progress...
"Asterix in the Middle East" Another one that proves that Uderzo isn't bad at all on his own. Quite a bit of good James Bond parody.

Table 26.1. Asterix and the Black Gold - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 3, Panel 6 MI6 is a British espionage agency
Page 4, Panel 6 Papyrus: paper; The fly is constantly infatuated with Dubbelosix, in the same way that Miss Moneypenny always has a crush on 007.
Page 4, Panel 8 The chariot and its many devices (see pages 10-12) is typical of the gadgets featured in Bond moves.
Page 5, Panel 2 Glen Koorey thinks that the self-destructing message comes from "Mission Impossible". ???
Page 9, Panel 7 Quaestor = Roman inspector / auditor.
Page 11, Panel 6 Hors de combat: out of action, disabled
Page 18, Panel 8 Non omnia possumus omnes = we can't all do everything (Virgil, Eclogue vii.63 attrib to Macrobius Lucilius, Saturnalia vi.1.35)
Page 19, Panel 3 Magnum opus: someone's greatest work
Page 22, Panel 8 Bireme = two sets of oars on each side; trireme=three; quadrireme=four, quinquireme=five (big as they got)
Page 27, Panel 1 Shalom: "peace," traditional Jewish greeting or farewell. Note that Joshua Ben Zedrin asks the news from a prophet.
Page 27, Panel 10 Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem
Page 28, Panel 10 A reference to the wailing wall of Jerusalem.
Page 30, Panel 7 Mazel tov: "good luck" traditional
Page 31, Panel 1 Matthew 27:25 "My hands are clean of this man's blood"
Page 32, Panel 8 Akkad was an ancient region in N. Babylonlia, 3.00-1100 BC. Sumer was an ancient region of the lower Euphrates, back past 4000 BC
Page 33, Panel 5 Hittite: Asia Minor and Syria from 1700-700 BC
Page 33, Panel 10 Assyria: Upper Tigris, peak was about 700 BC
Page 34, Panel 5 Media: What is now NW Iran
Page 41, Panel 5 ave atque vale = hail, and farewell evermore (Catullus 87-54 BC, Carmina ci)

Table 26.2. Asterix and the Black Gold - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Baal Hebrew for 'master,lord". God of lightning, thunder and rain.
M. Devius Surreptitius Devious: clever; surreptitious: sneaky, unnoticeable. M is the guy in charge of James Bond's agency, and he looks like him. A caricature of French actor Bernard Blier (1916 - 1989).
Dubbelosix 006: James Bond is 007. Caricature of Sean Connery.
Ekonomikrisis Economic crisis. From Asterix the Gladiator.
Samson Alius (Rosenblumenthalovitch) Samson: as in Samson and Delilah; alias: because his real name is about as stereotypical Jewish as you get... the "ovitch" even suggests Russian Jew; (alt.) According to 'Reilly: Ace of Spies' by Robin Bruce-Lockhart, the (in)famous British spy of the late 19th - early 20th Century, Sidney Reilly, was the illegitimate son of a married Russian woman and a Viennese Jewish doctor. Reilly's birth name was "Sigmund" and his real father's name was, here is the kicker, Rosenbloom. Rosenbloom/ Reilly was associated with the early British oil explotations in the Middle East - specifically, Persia - and was also known for the many disguises and aliases he would use.
Joshua ben Zedrin Benzedrine is an addictive amphetamine (drug).
Isaiah Isaiah: a prophet
Saul Ben Ephishul So beneficial. A caricature of Goscinny
Pontius Pirate Pontius Pilate. Modelled on the French actor Jean Gabin who played Inspector Maigret in many movies based on the Simenon novels.
Classis Tyrannicus Classic tyranical: typical tyrant