Chapter 24. Asterix in Belgium

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


When Caesar says that the Belgians are the bravest Gauls, an enraged Vitalstatistix sets out to prove them wrong. Together with Asterix & Obelix, he challenges the Belgians to a Roman-thumping competition...
This one has a lot of "guest appearances." I'm sure I've missed a few. This story was in the making when Goscinny died. After more than a year, Uderzo finished the story, writing most of the last pages.

The translators did an exceptional job. The translators give "Apologies to: George Gordon, Lord Byron, Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, Mr. John Milton, and Pieter Breughel the Elder". George Gorden Noel Byron is Lord Byron's full name. This is the reason why Ron Dippold could not find a separate reference for George Gorden ver. 1.0 of the annotations. Harry Fluks notes that in the Belgian version, Victor Hugo ("for the text") and Breughel ("for the drawings") are thanked separately.

Glen Koorey notes - Apparently, Victor Hugo's "Les Chatiments" (Waterloo) is used in the French version. Not sure where. In my book, the text is bolder than usual and rounded. It actually makes it much easier to read. Most of the subsequent books are like this.

Historical Note.  Caesar defeated the Belgian tribes like the Nervii (57-46 B.C.). Belgium was a Roman province beginning 16 B.C. Caesar actually thought that the Belgians were the bravest of all the Gaulish people because, given their location, they were furthest from polite manners and education of the Roman provinces.

Table 24.1. Asterix in Belgium - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 2, Panel 3 "When Gaius comes marching home again" = "When Jonny comes marching home again ..."; "Menhir a new day will come..." = "Many a New Day (from Oklahoma!)
Page 2, Panel 5 "It's plane infuriating... I shall never be in concorde..." = Ironic cosidering that the Concorde has now been grounded.
Page 3, Panel 1 "We're going to hang our washing on the Armorican line". A reference to the WWII patriotic song "We're going to hang out our washing on the Siegfried line". The Siegfried line was the German line of defence works.
Page 4, Panel 10 This is from "De Bello Gallico"
Page 5, Panel 5 This is the case today
Page 6, Panel 2 Is this the only example of talking "outside the story" in the entire series ???
Page 7, Panel 3 "It is a far better thing I do now than I have ever done before..." - The last lines from 'A Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens
Page 15, Panel 6 Pseudonymus is from Asterix's old legion/cohort/manipule/century from Asterix the Legionary
Page 16, Panel 3 Oppidums = Fortified places set on artificial hills; Belgium is known as a very flat country
Page 16, Panel 5 Bib and Tucker = an entire outfit of clothes.
Page 17, Panel 1 Bonanza is based on the Belgian actress Annie Cordy
Page 17, Panel 3 The Belgians are famous for their food
Page 21, Panel 11 "Gallant little Belgian". A WWII reference to the time Belgium refused to allow German forces free passage. The phrase "Gallant little Belgium" was much used in the press.
Page 22, Panel 1 Non licet omnibus adire corinthum = It is not given to everyone to reach Corinth. This is close to Horace, "Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum": Not everyone is lucky enough to get to Corinth (Horace, Epistles I.xvii.35)
Page 23, Panel 1 Name is Legion = Mark 5:9 (and Luke 8:30)
Page 25, Panel 1 This is the start of references to cabbages of which, Brussels sprouts are just one variety.
Page 26, Panel 8 "I shall go, I shall see and I shall conquer". The future tense of 'Vini, Vidi, Vici'.
Page 27, Panel 8 The Thompson Twins, from Tintin. The word balloons are done in that style as well.
Page 28, Panel 7 Waterzooi = A Belgian recipe which is basically eel in cream sauce.
Page 28, Panel 8 "meeting with Caesar on the playing fields when we've eaten". A reference to Lord Wellington's famous quote: "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton".
Page 29, Panel 7 This is Manneken Pis (the little pissing man), a famous fountain in Brussels, commemorating a legendary little boy who extinguished a bomb under the Brussels walls by urinating on the fuse... Another version has it that the boy was lost and his father said that if he (the boy) was found, he'd (the father) commission a statue of the boy whatever state he (the boy) was found in.
Page 29, Panel 8 A reference to the EEC (European Economic Community) as it was back then. See also Page 30, Panel 1.
Page 30, Panel 7 Belgium was famous for its lace (still is for the tourists)
Page 31, Panel 5 Moritorus te saluto = I who am about to die salute you. Again a reference to "Morituri te salutant" said by gladiators saluting the Emperor.
Page 35, Panel 4 This is Eddy Merckx, famous Belgian cyclist. Eddy Merckx won the Tour de France five times between 1969 and 1974.
Page 35, Panel 9 This scene is modeled on Ernest Meissonier painting showing Napoleon campaigning in France. The original is often called, wrongly, the retreat from Moscow.
"Napolean in the campaign in France" by Ernest Meissonier
"Caesar in the campaign in Gaul" by Uderzo
Page 36, Panels 3, 4 and 7 But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell! ... Arm! Arm! It is - it is - the cannon's opening roar! (Lord Byron, Beppo c.III.s.23)
Page 37, Panel 1 I suspect this is Beppo c.III stanza 24, but I don't have it to check against. ???
Page 37, Panel 3 Xenophobia: dislike of foreigners
Page 39, Panel 1 Did ye not hear it? No -- 'twas but the wind / Or the car rattling o'er the stony street; / On with the dance! (Beppo c.III.s.12)
Page 39, Panel 5 Nearer, clearer, deadlier than before... = Reference to Byron's 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage'
Page 40, Panel 1 Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar III.i.273)
Page 41, Panel 1 But yesterday the word of Caesar might / Have stood against the world (Julius Caesar III.ii.124); That day he overcame the Nervii (Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene II)
Page 41, Panel 2 Chaos umpire sits... Chance governs all. (Milton, Paradise Lost bk.II.l.907)
Page 41, Panel 5 "Publish and be damned!" Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington to Harriette Wilson, who threatened to publish her memoirs and his letters.
Page 41, Panel 7 With ruin upon ruin, rout upon rout, Confusion worse confounded (Paradise Lost bk.II.l995)
Page 43, Panel 1 This panel is an almost exact copy of the painting "Peasant Wedding Feast" (circa 1568) by Pieter Breughel the Elder.
"Peasant Wedding Feast" (c 1568) by Pieter Brughel
"Belgian Feast" by Uderzo
Page 43 "There was a sound of revelry by night." - Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (c.III s.21)
Page 44, Panel 6 "On with the dance. Let joy be unconfined." - Byron again. Ibid. (c.III s.22); Near the lower left corner of the final panel note the rabbit sadly looking over his shoulders towards Goscinny's signature. A cartoon good-bye to Goscinny who passed away before this book was finished.

Table 24.2. Asterix in Belgium - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Pseudonymus Pseudonym: a name used instead of the author's real name. E.g. 'thaths' ;-)
Beefix Beefy
Brawnix Brawny
Melancholix Melancholy: depressed
Alcoholix Alcoholic
Potbellix Potbellied
Bonanza Bonanza: a source of wealth or profits. As well as the western TV show.
Saintlouisblus Saint Louis blues. A style of Blues and the title of a song by Billie Holiday.
Wolfgangamadeus Wolfgang Amadeus: the first and middle names of Mozart
Monotonus Monotonous: boring
Botanix Botany: the study of plants
Califlowa Cauliflower