Recap / Asterix and the Goths

The third Asterix volume is the first one in which the heroes leave Gaul's borders, as Goscinny and Uderzo turn a particularly vicious satirical eye to France's wartime enemy, Germany.

Getafix leaves for the druids conference in the forest of Carnutes. Since the road could be dangerous, Asterix and Obelix go along as an escort. Meanwhile, a group of Goth barbarians enter Gaul and attack a Roman patrol. They're also going to the forest of Carnutes, planning to kidnap one of the druids there.

At the conference, Getafix shows off his magic potion and wins the top prize. The Goths quickly kidnap him. When their druid doesn't leave the forest, Asterix and Obelix become worried and start looking. Finding a visigoth helmet lying in the grass, they realize what has happened. However, an encounter with some legionaries causes the two Gauls to be mistaken for the Goths, and soon the local Romans are looking for the duo while ignoring the very obvious Goths trekking towards Germania.

Both Goths and Gauls enter Germania. While Asterix and Obelix pose as Goths and end up falling in with a Gothic company, Getafix is taken to the Goth leader Metric. Metric demands for the druid's magic through interpreter Rhetoric, promising that if Getafix refuses, Rhetoric will die with him. Naturally Getafix refuses, and Rhetoric lies that Getafix agrees, buying a week to escape. Along the way, Rhetoric bumps into Asterix and Obelix and all three are brought before Metric. It's here that Getafix reveals that he can speak Gothic, and that Rhetoric was lying to Metric. The four (Asterix, Obelix, Getafix, and Rhetoric) are thrown into the dungeons, awaiting public execution. Getafix has a plan to throw Germania into chaos, and asks for the ingredients to the magic potion, under the ruse of final meal. Rhetoric is powered up, and uses his strength to overthrow Metric. The Gauls then go on to give magic potion to Metric and other Goths, creating what are known as the Asterixian Wars. With the Goths busy fighting each other, they will be of no threat to Gaul, and our heroes leave for home.

Tropes present in this work:

  • All Germans Are Nazis: The Goths (Germans) in this story are represented as villains. This story was drawn only 20 years after the end of World War II when anti-German sentiment was still strong. Later Uderzo apologized for this one dimensional portrayal and in later Asterix stories Germans are shown far more sympathically.
  • Artistic License – History: Valueaddetax pulls fries out of boiling oil to demonstrate his anesthetic, even though potatoes had not reached Europe yet.
  • Bad Boss: Kuningaz Metric.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Asterix and Obelix do this twice; first as Legionaries, and then as Goths.
  • Enemy Civil War: Getafix decides that the best way to protect Gaul from a Goth invasion is to instigate a civil war between the Goths, and does so with liberal distribution of magic potion.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: In the French version, Getafix asks for "un druide debile." "Debile" used to mean weak and feeble, but nowadays is used almost exclusively to mean "dumbass" or even "retard."
  • Historical In-Joke: Getafix mentions at the end that the Goths are now too busy to fight between themselves to think about invading Gaul before a few centuries. In 1870 Bismarck unified Prussia mainly through a war with France. For that matter, the scene where all the Roman soldiers suspect each other for espionage, taking turns in betraying oneanother, can easily be interpreted as a Cold War joke, because of the constant fear of East Bloc infiltration.
  • National Stereotypes: The Goths (Germans) are depicted as obese, militaristic war mongers.
  • No Name Given: Three of the rival kuningoz.
  • The Starscream: At least nine of them. To be fair Getafix is deliberately looking for subservient, bullied potential rivals.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Poor Cantankerous, after his troops start accusing each other of being Goths: "They're all thick and I'm the leader! (Sob Sob)"
  • Symbol Swearing: Explained as (untranslated) Gaulish and Gothic cuss words.
  • Tactful Translation: Each time Getafix refuses Metric's order to brew the magic potion for them, Rhetoric translates his answer as "Yes" to avoid angering his boss. Getafix, who speaks perfect Gothic, finally snaps and tells Metric that Rhetoric has been lying to him.
  • Time Marches On: Asterix talks how the Goths are divided in a Western and Eastern part. Visigoths and Ostrogoths did exist back in Antiquity, but the joke is aimed more at Germany in the 20th century, when it was divided in a Western and Eastern part from 1949 to 1990. Since 1990 Germany has been unified again, making this reference outdated. Another thing that makes this story particularly outdated is the general anti-German atmosphere, typical for post-World War II stories.
  • Vacation Episode: This is the first album in which Asterix and Obelix travel to another country, in this case Germania (Germany).
  • You Have Failed to Buy Off the Druid
  • You Keep Using That Word: The Gothic people as such did not exist yet — in fact, there was only one Germanic language in those days.