Chapter 16. Asterix in Switzerland

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


A Roman tax inspector is poisoned by a greedy Roman governor, and only Getafix can save him. Asterix & Obelix travel to Switzerland in search of a vital ingredient, with the governor's men hot in pursuit...
Actually, Helvetia is not fully Switzerland, and Geneva isn't all of Switzerland, but... Probably translated this way for ease of recognition. The Swiss are famous for all the things they're lampooned for here... melted cheese, banking, watches, neutrality, and cleanliness.

Historical Note.  The whole story about the bridge is that when Caesar attacked the Helvetes, they burned down their homes and the bridge and went to fight Caesar. The bridge was one of the rare ones above the Rhone river, and thus a strategical one. Caesar rebuilt it when he eventually pounded the Helvetes to submission.

Table 16.1. Asterix in Switzerland - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 2, Panel 8 Half pint of mild and bitter: British beer.
Page 3, Panel 6 Tripe = part of the stomach, aurochs = a large, almost extinct European bison.
Page 7, Panel 1 Looks similar to a scene from Fellini's Satyricon.
Page 8, Panel 4 Valetudinarium = place of poor health
Page 8, Panel 7 Air in the arteries is a quick way to kill someone
Page 8, Panel 8 Aesculapius = god of medicine; staff with snake.
Page 14, Panel 3 Il Milia Passum = Two miles to go
Page 14, Panel 5 Servitutes = Servitude
Page 15, Panel 1 Chariotel = like motel
Page 16, Panel 1 In the original, this is a little man with a horned helmet, the emblem of a garage company. The company sued, and the guy has been redrawn as the Michelin Man.
Page 19, Panel 10 Maior e longinquo reverentia = Greater is the respect [that comes] from a long time ago.
Page 20, Panel 9 Leman Lake is the name of Lake Geneva in French: Lac Leman.
Page 23, Panel 4 Sicambri = A Gaulish tribe, which later joined the Franks; Aedue = Gauls from between the Loire and Saone rivers; Triboci = Gauls on the left bank of Rhine; Sequani = Gauls in modern Burgundy
Page 28, Panel 7 Curriculum Vitae = running of life. Life story, biography.
Page 30, Panel 7 This building must be the Palais des Nations. One of the two UN headquarters. Here, the building has a definitively Roman style the actual hasn't.
Page 32, Panel 1 Carduchi = Corduene, also known as Cordyene, Cardyene and Gordyene, was a province of the Roman Empire located in the northern mesopotamia.
Page 32, Panel 5 Nunc est bibendum = now for drinks (Horace, Odes I.xxxvii.1)
Page 35, Panel 11 William Tell, in case anyone missed it.
Page 38, Panel 3 Elephants refer to Hannibal's crossing of the Alps.
Page 39, Panel 3 The Red Cross was formed in Switzerland

Table 16.2. Asterix in Switzerland - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Varius Flavus Various flavors
Impresario Fellinus Impresario: manager of theater/orchestra/opera company. Fellinus is the famous Fredrico Fellini.
Caius Eucalyptus Eucalyptus: tall Australian evergreen trees.
Geometrix Geometric
Vexatius Sinusitus Vexatious: irritating; Sinusitus: inflamed sinuses
Curius Odus Curious odors
Malodorus Caseus Malodorous caseous: smelly and cheeselike.
Petitsuix Petit Suisse (Little Swiss): a French version of blancmange.
Zurix Zurich: a Swiss city famous for banking