16. Asterix in Switzerland
French title: Astérix chez les Helvêtes
Originally published: 1970

previous - next

translations of this book
Asterix Annotations
Review at Alea Iacta Est
Asterix Switzerland Condatum (Rennes) seems to be the Roman centre for their famous orgies. It costs the governor Varius Flavus (Gracchus Garovirus) most of the taxes he collects. Rome has its suspicions, so they send the questor Vexatius Sinusitus (Claudius Malosinus) to check the finances of the province.

Flavus poisoned Vexatius to get rid of him. Sick to death he asks for Getafix (Panoramix) in the hope he can help him. Getafix (Panoramix) does know an antidote but he needs a very special flower, which only grows high in the mountains of Helvetica. Getafix takes Vexatius to the village of the Gauls to protect him against the governor and sends Asterix and Obelix to Helvetia (Helvetica), to get the flower named Edelweiss.

Here our friends take note of the Helvetians neatness, their banking business, Alphorns, the predecessor of the League of Nations, yodel and, not to forget, white wine and cheese fondue. In their search for the flower they are sabotaged by Curius Odus (Diplodocus), governor of Geneva (Genève). Obelix is no big help either due to consuming too much wine, but with some help of the local Petitsuix (Petitsuis), Asterix succeeds in getting the flower. After their return to Gaul, Getafix prepares the antidote and puts some of the magic potion into it. It gives Vexatius enough strength to show governor Flavus who's the boss after all..
Banquet Pirates Guests
For the first timee a Roman takes part in the banquet which traditionally celebrates the return of our friends, Questor Sinusitus, who has been held 'hostage'. Obelix did not see any mountain during his trip and thinks Helvetia is flat. Cacofonix does not argue, being tied to a tree. None. They could not cross the Alps. Wilhelm Tell, and Bibendum the logo of Michelin tyres.
Allusions and Details
(page 6)
Friends for once.
The joke of Obelix 'serving' his chef as if he is a pint of beer is present in the original edition. Even the cloth Obelix was using to polish a menhir perfectly blends in the final frame of the page, where he acts as a waiter.
(page 7)
This orgy is supposed to be modelled after Fellini's movie Satyricon. (see ⇒IMDB) Orgies are a recurring joke in this album.
(page 16)
Obelix is worried. He is feeling the wrist of this legionary, just as Getafix (Panoramix) is doing next to him.
(page 18)
This one I never understood before. The distance to the next high-way restaurant is given, II mille passuum = 2000 feet. In modern times the sign has fork and spoon, here it depicts greasy hands!
One of the next frames shows the restaurant built over the road, with parking lots for the chariots.
(page 19)
Yes, it is hard to organize a real orgy in Switzerland... it is supposed to be dirty. Of course, fondue with melted cheese is a Swiss speciality. (don't loose your bread!)
Same page: The 'chariotel' is an early version of our motel. Also: note the person with only the upper part of his body on wheels.
(page 20)
The tyres company Michelin is represented by its mascotte Bibendum (⇒Wikipedia). This figure appears in several translations, whereas in the original French edition a figure of the French oil company Antar is placed.
(page 20)
image Antar was a French oil company with its own gas stations. It was taken over by the company 'Elf'. The Antar logo is from the original (French) edition. The picture right has been taken from a keyring found on the web. (In fact, there is one edition where the colour and black & white films do not match, and both logo's are visible.)
(page 22)
Border checks at the Swiss frontier can be rather thorough. This side of the border is extremely clean, note the waste-bin next to the signpost marked 'detritus' (waste).
(page 28)
No, we do not know the time at night by using a sundial (⇒Wikipedia)!
(page 34)
The meeting of the tribes is of course an allusion to the United Nations in Geneva. The building seems more like a Roman version of the United States Capitol in Washington DC. [can we have picture of that one]
(page 39)
Wilhelm Tell (⇒Wikipedia) the legendary Swiss freedom fighter, was supposedly forced to shoot an arrow from great distance into an apple placed at his son's head. He succeeded. The joke here is that Asterix hits the bull's eye, leaving the Swiss disappointed (they do not know exactly why..)