Chapter 3. Asterix and the Goths

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


After the annual druid conference in the Forest of the Carnutes, Getafix is captured by the Goths. So Asterix & Obelix travel eastward to bring him home.
The drawing still isn't up to later form, and some characters are still underdeveloped, most notably the other villagers. The great naming has begun. Goth (Germania) is Germany, pretty much. That's gothic script when they speak.

Table 3.1. Asterix and the Goths - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 1, Panel 1 Forest of the Carnutes: meeting place of the druids, the Celtic tribe of the Carnutes lived in the neighbourhood of where Orleans and Chartres now are. Caesar (Yes. Old Julius himself ;-), in his writings, mentions the yearly druid conference where they conferred and resolved conflicts. The Forest of Carnutes is also mentioned three times in the previous album 'Asterix and the Golden Sickle' (page 2, panel 7; page 10, panel 9; page 16, panel 8).
Page 2, Panel 5 Visigoth = west goth, Ostrogoth = east goth
Page 2, Panel 9 Errare humanum est = to err is human (Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism l.525)
Page 6, Panel 3 Dariorigum = Town of Thiers. Famous for its knives. Especially for those called "Laguiole."
Page 15, Panel 8 Quid = what
Page 16, Panel 1 A bad pun. The closest translation for visi is probably as a pun for "vici" (I was victorious).
Page 16, Panel 4 Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor = I see and try the better things [but] follow the worse ones. (Ovid, Metamorphoses vii.20)
Page 23, Panel 2 An anachronism. Alaric captured Rome in 410 AD. The song is a parody of "The Noble Duke of York,":

"Oh, the noble Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down."

The leader of the troop is Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) or Emperor Wilhelm, the Kaiser (1858-1941). This is probably a period caricature that also appeared in Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Page 23, Panel 4 "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" WW I-era music hall and marching song written by Jack Judge and Harry Williams in 1912.
Page 32, Panel 1 In 1654 Otto von Guericke, a German physicist and burgomaster of Magdeburg showed the existence of vacuum in the presence of the Imperial Assembly. He joined hemispheres airtight and pumped the air out with a tap. The force created by the atmospheric pressure was so big that 16 horses (8 on each side) could not manage to disconnect the hemispheres. Based on Guericke's experiments Denis Papin, a French Doctor, twenty years later (and on page 36 ;-) built the relief-valved pressure cooker.
Page 33, Panel 1 "Fire burn and cauldron bubble" = From the three witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
Page 34, Panel 3 We call it Battleship. A quinquereme is a Roman warship with five sets of oars on each side.
Page 34, Panel 7 The Black Eagle is an old German military symbol. It originated as the Prussian black eagle, some say adopted in the seventeenth century to contrast with Poland's (at that time) white eagle flag. It was maintained throughout the 19th century, the unification of Germany, the 3rd reich, and is still on the coat of arms of Germany.

Table 3.2. Asterix and the Goths - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Arteriosclerosus Arteriosclerosis: hardening of the arteries, can lead to heart attacks
Gastroenteritus Gastroenteritis: infected stomach and intestines.
Choleric Choleric: quick tempered, irritable
Tartaric Tartaric: containing tartar or tartaric acid (not tartar sauce, but the crust formed in wine jugs)
Athmospheric Atmospheric: Relating to or located in the atmosphere
Prehistoric Belonging to or existing in times before recorded history
Esoteric Rare, unusual
Valueaddetax Value added tax: a British indirect sales tax paid at each step of production and distribution of a good based on the value added at that stage
Cadaverus Cadaverous: like a corpse
Botanix Botany: study of plants
Prefix Coming before something
Suffix Coming after sometime, usually in language. "ix" is a suffix. :)
Cantankerus Cantankerous: crabby, choleric
Marcus Ubiquitus Ubiquitous = everywhere, omnipresent
Julius Monotonus Monotonous = boring, monotony inducing
Metric System of measurements. A standard in most parts of the world.
Rhetoric The art of using words effectively
General Electric A U.S. company (GE)
Euphoric Vigorous, high spirited, happy
Lyric Song-like, also a form of poetry
Satiric Engaging in satire.
Eccentric Deviating from some accepted pattern.