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Re-visiting the famous (at least outside of America!) Asterix series which I loved from my more impressionable days as a kid. Now wondering if I missed an issue in the canon or if the Romans simply never dealt with the indomitable village of Gauls by either

  • Stealing and mass producing the Magic Potion to neutralize the Village's advantage.
  • Assassinating Getafix (if he's essentially the Abraham Erskine of Druids, i.e. the only one who can recreate the super-human formula).

Seems silly that the Romans would always try to solve their problems with the Gauls in any way but the above (and keep getting clobbered.)

Or is this whole magic potion thing just a naive plot device? :)

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But Obelix fell into magic potion couldron. So he could easily beat anyone. –  huseyin tugrul buyukisik Dec 11 '13 at 13:39
Agreed ... but they've never really scaled the extent of its power clearly across the canon yet. Obelix has limits, for instance: in Egypt, Getafix had to actually give him a few drops of potion to actually augment his strength to break out of a chamber inside the Great Pyramids. Can Obelix single-handedly destroy ALL of Caesar's forces in one battle? :) I think the authors have the license to scale it back as per the story's demands. –  shivsky Dec 11 '13 at 15:19
You think "Seems silly" is a problem for a comic book? Loved Asterix! –  zipquincy Dec 11 '13 at 15:39
I think every other story is about the Romans trying to get their hands on the potion, or neutralising Getafix. They just failed at it! –  Nick Dec 11 '13 at 16:22
The plot synposes at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Asterix_volumes indicate otherwise. Counting Michael's answer about the 1st Volume and the Goths, there are far fewer plots revolving around neutralizing/stealing either Getafix or the potion. –  shivsky Dec 11 '13 at 17:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Actually, this occurs in the very first story, Asterix the Gaul: the centurion of the Roman garrison uses a spy to learn about the potion and abducts Getafix to make it for his own (the centurion's) use, with the goal to overthrow Caesar.

Another instance is in the third volume, where the Goths kidnap Getafix, panning to use the potion to conquer both Gaul and Rome.

There is also a volume where Getafix refuses to provide the potion when the Gauls quarrel amongst themselves.

So threats to the supply of the magic potion are actually part of the story in many cases, but since it's a kids' story after all, the good guys always overcome these threats.

As for an in-universe explanation why the Romans don't make this a priority: there are other instances where the Gauls end up helping Caesar, and it seems not illogical to conclude that he eventually considers them having the potion to be useful to him, and most certainly better than anyone else having it.

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Adding to Michael Borgwardt's answer, there's even an instance of Caesar re-building the village of Asterix and Obelix, so the stalemate between Rome and the Gaul village seems a choice of sorts. You could perhaps say that there's an unspoken non-proliferance treaty in place. After all, isn't it better for Rome to have one unbeatable village, that wants nothing but to defend itself, than to risk all the barbarians at the border getting hold of the potion recipe?

This is linked to a recurring theme in the Asterix series: The cultural dominance of Rome is even stronger than their military dominance and what Asterix and Obelix does is often asserting their own culture. There's Obelix' disrespect for finer Roman cuisine, patriotism and the communal meal, Asterix journey across "France" to gather objects of cultural significance and their friendship with other european "minorities" which also assert their own identity in defiance of Rome. In the world of the comics, many of the gauls outside the village are "romanized" and do not contemplate an uprising (with or without potion) against the empire they have become a part of.

So from an in-comics persepctive, it's perfectly clear that the potion alone cannot beat the empire and so an all-out offensive from the romans carry little benefit, but with the risk of potion-proliferation.

From an outside perspective, it's pretty clear that Goscinny and Uderzo were referencing, in veiled terms the cultural dominance of the USA over their native French culture, complete with loanwords, imported cuisine and foreign luxury goods. If this seems far-fetched, be aware that this is such a central talking point in France and elsewhere in Europe that you can hardly discuss "French culture" for five minutes before referring to the issue of anglo-american cultural dominance.

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In Asterix and the Black Gold, Getafix is out of rock oil, a crucial ingredient to the magic potion. Asterix and Obelix are sent to Mesopotamia to get it. A Roman spy called Dubbelosix has infiltrated, posing as a druid, and attempts to thwart their attempts.

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Well Goscinny and Uderzo have portrayed Caesar as a man of honor you can see this attribute in "Asterix and the Gladiator" where he grants freedom for cacofonix in the colloseum and "Asterix and son" where he rebuilds the entire village which was burnt by Brutus. So that is why Getafix is not assassinated.Since Assassination is considered a cowardly trait.

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