Recap / Asterix and Caesar's Gift

In the twenty-first Asterix volume, Goscinny and Uderzo skewer local politics, and especially election campaigns.

Having completed twenty years of service in the Roman Army, Veteran legionaries Tremensdelirius and Egganlettus await their honesta missio (Latin:honorary discharge) for the morning but that night Tremensdelirius (who has hardly ever been sober in his twenty years in the Legions) expresses his opinion on Julius Caesar in his drunken state and gets arrested.

The following morning Caesar is informed of Tremensdelirius's mishap the night before. Caesar suggests playing a practical joke. He will receive his honorary discharge after all but Caesar has a "special" gift for him. In the ceremony, Egganlettus receives a share in Nicaea and the still drunk Tremensdelirius receives his special gift: the village inhabited by Asterix and his friends.

A few days later in Arausio (today known as Orange), Tremensdelirius is drunk again and is unable to pay the innkeeper. So, he offers his land share. The innkeeper, Orthopaedix, agrees to the bargain. Soon Orthopaedix, his wife Angina and Influenza, their daughter, arrive at "their" new village only to be disappointed to find it already inhabited but hope the seal of Julius Caesar will convince the villagers to leave. Instead, the village laughs at them, and Vitalstatistix points out that nobody can offer a gift not already possessed by himself. The rule includes Caesar and this particular village is the only one not held by him.

Angina starts berating her husband for his decision to leave Lutetia for Arausio and envies her sister for marrying a successful businessman. Vitalstatistix is reminded of his own rivalry with his affluent brother-in-law Homeopathix, and decides to offer Orthopaedix a chance to get out of his situation and informs him that their village has no inn and offers him a building for him to use next to the fish-stall. Obelix helps the new family and soon has a crush on Influenza. The opening night of the new inn, the villagers are invited to attend but the merriment seems to end when Vitalstatistix and his wife Impedimenta arrive. Impedimenta and Angina greet each other coldly and soon the two women enter an argument about who owns the village. Meanwhile a comment by Impedimenta about the smell of fish has set off Unhygienix and Fulliautomatix's rivalry. A fight starts with all the villagers present.

The morning finds the inn abandoned except for the bruised Orthopaedix, a sobbing Angina and Influenza. Orthopaedix is ready to quit and return to Lutetia, but Angina wants to have revenge on Impedimenta and makes a claim to the leadership of the village on behalf of her husband. Vitalstatistix is shocked to have his long-held position challenged but soon has Cacofonix obtain an opinion poll of the villagers and the results are disappointing for Vitalstatistix (Geriatrix is only supporting Vitalstatistix out of xenophobia; the rest of the villagers don't care who reigns as chief). Soon both candidates and their families search for supporters by offering their markedly insincere voice of support to the individual concerns of each villager.

The villagers become very involved in the political race, with Geriatrix entering as a third party candidate. Asterix, however, becomes worried that internal conflict could benefit the Romans. Meanwhile, Tremensdelirius arrives at the village to visit Orthopaedix and explains that since their last meeting he unsuccessfully tried all kinds of trade. Thus he wants to claim his land share saying that veterans are not allowed to sell their shares to Gauls. The family attempts to throw him out but he draws the sword on the family. Asterix interrupts the confrontation, and the two proceed in a demonstration of their swordsmanship. Asterix wins. Influenza is impressed by the diminutive Gaulish warrior and Tremensdelirius leaves; when Obelix learns of Asterix' dashing display in front of his crush, the two fall out.

Tremensdelirius visits Laudanum, one of the four Roman camps surrounding the village, and finds his old friend Egganlettus serving as an aide-de-camp under the local centurion, as he found retirement boring and signed up for another 20 years. With his support Tremensdelirius makes an official request on the centurion to restore a stolen land share to a veteran soldier. The centurion is rather reluctant to face the Gauls but the veterans threaten to report him to Caesar who would not like the Gauls taking advantage of his veterans. He agrees to prepare a military attack.

The following day, Asterix attempts to express his concerns about the mysterious Roman from the previous day but it falls on deaf ears. Hence, Asterix decides to investigate the forest area himself and soon finds that in one of the Roman camps they are preparing siege weapons for an extended campaign. He listens to their plans but lacks the magic potion needed to end their preparations. The Romans see him, but are afraid to attack, enabling him to escape. However his escape means the Romans become convinced that the Gauls can no longer resist the Romans, thus Roman morale rises.

Asterix returns to the village and attempts to sound the alarm, but the village pays no attention to him, until the debate is interrupted by rocks thrown into the village by the Roman catapults outside. Vitalstatistix begs for Getafix to give them magic potion but the druid refuses even though he must know the village is under attack. He is just too disgusted by the Gaulish in-fighting. There is a change of attitude in Orthopaedix and Vitalstatistix and they stop fighting each other. Getafix approves of this and agrees to help them. The rival factions of villagers combine their efforts against the Romans and counterattack, demolishing the war machines. Orthopaedix himself confronts Tremensdelirius and returns the stone tablet that claims ownership of the village and smashes it on Tremensdelirius' head.

The Gauls are reconciled following their victory. A much more confident Orthopaedix befriends his former rival, and decides to withdraw his claim for leadership and return to Lutetia. Now he has something to brag about to his brother-in-law. Impedimenta and Angina have nothing left to fight about, and they exchange recipes and addresses of their relatives in Lutetia. With Influenza due to leave the village, Asterix and Obelix are friends again. There is a victory celebration at night and everyone (men and women alike) takes part.note 

This album has examples of:

  • Drowning His Sorrows/Drunk on Milk: When Obelix gets upset with Asterix, he goes to Orthopaedix's inn and starts ordering goat's milk. According to Cacofonix, he does this every time he gets into an argument with Asterix.
  • Henpecked Husband: Orthopaedix and Vitalstatistix. It's actually an important part of the story, as not only does Vitalstatistix invite Orthopaedix to stay in the village as a gesture of sympathy after seeing Angina hector him, but Angina and Impedimenta drive their husbands into their feud. Orthopaedix eventually grows a backbone, and when Angina tries to object to his decision to return to Lutetia, he angrily puts her in her place, making it clear that the decision has been made and there is no room for argument.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Asterix tries to warn the village that the Romans are about to strike, but Orthopaedix and Vitalstatistix don't want to interrupt the debate. They only do so once a rock shot by a catapult hits the table near them.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Asterix flees Laudanum instead of bashing it up, the Legionaries take this to mean that the Gauls have lost their magic potion and prepare to attack.
  • Ornamental Weapon: averted; this album features one of the rare moments where Asterix actually uses his sword to fight off an opponent (a very drunk Tremensdelirius) since he doesn't have any magic potion with him at the time. Granted, the fight is limited to Flynning, but still.
  • Opt Out: Rather than get mixed up in the election, Getafix locks himself in his hut and refuses to give anyone magic potion.
  • Rescue Romance: After Asterix saves Orthopaedix's family from Tremensdelirius, their daughter Influenza becomes infatuated with him.
  • Shout-Out: During Asterix' swordfight against Tremensdelirius, he quotes from Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac in the original French edition, and from Hamlet in the English translation. He finishes by cutting a Z in the front of the Roman's tunic, anticipating Zorro by thousands of years.