Supriya Ghosh

Asterix at the Olympic Games

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Series  Asterix
Artists  Albert Uderzo
Language  French
Author  René Goscinny
Followed by  Asterix and the Cauldron
Writers  René Goscinny
Date of publication  1968
Originally published  15 February 1968
Artist  Albert Uderzo
Date  1972
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Preceded by  Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield
Similar  René Goscinny books, Asterix books, Other books

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Asterix at the Olympic Games is the 12th comic book album in the Asterix series. Serialized in Pilote issues 434–455 in 1968 (to coincide with the Mexico City Olympics), it was translated into English in 1972 (to coincide with the Munich Olympics). The story satirizes performance-enhancing drug usage in sports.

Contents

Plot

Gluteus Maximus, a muscular and arrogant Roman legionnaire, is chosen as one of Rome's representatives at the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece. Gaius Veriambitius, his centurion, hopes that the glory that goes with Olympic victory will reflect well on him as well. While training in the forest Gluteus Maximus encounters Asterix and Obelix, who unintentionally outdo him at running, the javelin and wrestling, thanks to the power of the magic potion. This leaves him demoralised, and he consigns himself to cleaning the Roman camp instead of training. When Veriambitius asks Vitalstatistix that Gluteus Maximus be left alone, Vitalstatistix decides that the Gauls should enter as well. Veriambitius argues that they can't, as Romans are the only non-Greeks allowed, but Asterix rationalizes that as Gaul is part of the Roman Empire, they are technically Romans (despite their resistance to Roman rule), making them a Gallo-Roman team, demoralising the centurion and his legionnaire further. The Gauls host trials, but since everyone is dosed with the magic potion the trials are inconclusive. Eventually the Gauls decide to register only Asterix and Obelix as competitors.

The entire male population of the village go to Olympia (aboard a galley where they have to do the rowing), where Asterix and Obelix register as athletes (with Getafix as their coach) and the others all enjoy a holiday. When Gluteus Maximus and Veriambitius discover the Gauls have come to compete, they are left in despair (Vitalstatistix telling them "We're not stopping you entering, it's just that we're going to win"), and this despair spreads to all of the other Roman athletes. They give up training and spend all their time having elaborate parties, washing their uniforms and sweeping the whole area. The scent from their feasts eventually causes the Greek competitors to complain about their own healthy food. Alarmed, the Greeks send a judge to warn the Romans that even if they think drinking will somehow make them better athletes, it will be held against them as all artificial stimulants are forbidden, prompting Veriambitius to tell him about the Gauls' magic potion. The Gauls are left gutted by the news that victory is not as certain as they had expected, but Asterix decides to compete anyway. Obelix, being permanently affected by the potion, now cannot compete and anyway doesn't quite get what's going on – he thinks he's been dismissed just because he fell into a cauldron and wonders if telling the officials he fell into a regular pot or amphora will change anything.

At the games itself Asterix and the Roman athletes are beaten at every turn by the Greeks, causing a dilemma to the Olympic officials. Although their victories prove what they've believed all along (that Romans are decadent barbarians and the Greeks are perfect beings), too much success will reflect badly on the country's reputation, so they announce a special race for just Romans. After the announcement, Asterix and Getafix start talking, very loudly, about a cauldron of magic potion left in a prominent place. Eager to win, the other Roman athletes steal the potion that night.

The race begins, and the Roman athletes easily beat Asterix. After the race Getafix accuses them of having used magic potion and, when the Romans deny the accusation, Asterix sticks his tongue out at them. When the Romans return the gesture, it is revealed that Getafix had added an extra ingredient to this particular batch of potion and the Romans now have blue tongues from drinking it. They are disqualified, and Asterix is declared the winner.

The Gauls return home for their traditional banquet. Getafix notices Asterix hasn't brought his Palm of Victory home. Asterix explains he gave it to someone who needed it more: Gluteus Maximus, whose apparent victory is shown to have pleased Julius Caesar greatly, promoting Maximus to centurion and Veriambitius to tribune.

Film adaptation

A live action movie of this book was released in France on January 30, 2008 to coincide with the Beijing Olympics. See Asterix at the Olympic Games (film).

Appearance by Goscinny and Uderzo

Asterix authors Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo make a small cameo in the comic. The two officials registering athletes for the Olympics sit in front of a wall with a mural, which shows two men in Greek attire talking while patting a cow and the names "Goscinny" and "Uderzo" below them in Greek letters.

References

Asterix at the Olympic Games Wikipedia


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