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? :)

  • 2
    But Obelix fell into magic potion couldron. So he could easily beat anyone. Dec 11, 2013 at 13:39
  • 1
    You think "Seems silly" is a problem for a comic book? Loved Asterix!
    – zipquincy
    Dec 11, 2013 at 15:39
  • 2
    Certainly not a problem, but when the authors who have shown such a remarkable OCD level of attention to detail in their work (rivaled probably only by the likes of Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes), I think it odd that they are somewhat loosey-goosey on this Popeye::Spinach type of plot device, that's all. Love the series to death no matter what though :)
    – shivsky
    Dec 11, 2013 at 15:59
  • 7
    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, 2013 at 16:22
  • 3
    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, 2013 at 17:46

5 Answers 5


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.

  • 2
    The volume where Getafix refuses potion to the village while the chieftainship is resolved is Asterix and Caesar's Gift. Getafix also temporarily leaves the village in protest in Asterix and the Secret Weapon and (if I remember) Asterix and the Roman Agent. Feb 25, 2015 at 7:55
  • There's also at least one comic where a Roman 007 expy is sent to infiltrate the village, get into Panoramix' confidence and obtain the potion recipe for Caesar. Of course, his secret orders are to obtain the recipe for the intelligence service rather than Caesar so they can take over -- and his actual plan is to keep the recipe for himself and overthrow both. Jan 26, 2022 at 12:54

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.

  • 5
    +1 The subtext of the Romans actually representing the USA in the modern world is well-known (at least to me; I always read the comics with that subtext!).
    – Andres F.
    Feb 24, 2015 at 12:40
  • +1 for this answer minus the last paragraph. I think it's also fair to acknowledge it's also a plot device. The stalemate guarantees the setup with an indomitable village which in the end does not pose a challenge to Rome and Caesar, yet I cannot think of a single instance where this is described as a calculated decision by Caesar. With respect to the last paragraph, while the contention of post-WWII cultural dominance in France is indeed very real, IMO it is very subtle in the Asterix series, at best.
    – Patrice M.
    Jun 15, 2020 at 20:22

Dealing with the Druid is not as straightforward as you suggest, and the Asterix canon explores this:

  • The secret of the Magic Potion is coveted and Julius Caesar cannot trust any Roman who possesses it - for example Crismus Bonus in Asterix the Gaul, and also Admiral Crustacius in Asterix and Obelix All at Sea - who contemplate treason as soon as the secret of the potion comes within reach

  • Likewise in Asterix the Gaul (and Asterix and the Goths) the druid proves to be immune to torture or coercion

  • Hunting the druid down is actually very dangerous - it's a good idea, but no-one wants to do it (Asterix and the Big Fight)

  • Removing the druid does not remove the threat of Obelix, who can defend the village indefinitely or enact reprisals on the Romans

  • The potion cannot be reverse-engineered (it is a magic potion) and Getafix will not share the secret, even with another druid (Asterix and the Black Gold).

The Romans come quite close to victory in Asterix and the Big Fight when they (somewhat haphazardly) adopt two strategies at once: neutralizing Getafix and using the custom of the Big Fight to depose Vitalstatistix in favour of a Gallo-Roman collaborator. In the end both plans fail; Vitalstatistix wins the Big Fight without the magic potion, and Getafix is cured of his memory loss in the nick of time.

In my opinion the most effective Roman stratagems are those that do not rely on hard power; such as in Asterix and the Roman Agent, The Mansions of the Gods, and Obelix and Co, where non-military means are used to erode the resistance of the little Gaulish village.

  • 1
    Thanks for reminding me about the Big Fight! That clearly was a magic-potion neutralizing solution.
    – shivsky
    Feb 25, 2015 at 19:10
  • It is unusual that in the Big Fight the Gauls are opposed by an intelligent Roman soldier in Felonious Caucus. Feb 26, 2015 at 8:07

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.


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.

  • 1
    The 'honourable Caesar' explanation doesn't help with the stories where the local Romans are using their own ideas and plans, rather than something cooked up by Caesar and his advisers in Rome. Mar 16, 2015 at 11:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.