|ASTERIX & UP, UP AND DOWN||
Have you ever seen soldiers who know how to fly? Asterix’s adventures feature some of the best examples of soldiers taking to the air. Together with his inseparable friend Obelix, who bounces Romans soldiers around like yo-yos, Asterix makes them fly. Poor things... Airplanes weren’t invented back in Roman times, but that didn’t stop Roman centuries from getting a bird’s eye view of their surroundings. All they needed was to run across a Gaul near the village, and, up they went! We’ll meet some of the soldiers who are tossed around like juggling balls.
The Gauls recall one of the great battles against Caesar and his legions - the battle of Gergovia in 52 BC. It remains forever etched in their memory. This was the site of Vercingetorix’s victory, and it symbolizes the Gauls’ resistance to Roman invaders. They never miss a chance to evoke this success: especially Geriatrix, who is quite a patriot. On the anniversary of the battle of Gergovia, the Gauls usually attack the neighboring Roman camps. In Asterix in Corsica, the soldiers of the camp of Totorum, one of the usual targets, decide to desert rather than get walloped. But it’s too late, and the Gauls pour into the camp to celebrate the occasion.
The Romans are constantly lambasted by the Gauls, and one of the main reasons for this is Getafix’s magic potion. He whips up a delicious beverage made from mistletoe (harvested with a golden sickle to give it magical powers), lobster, carrots, onions, salt, wildflowers, four-leafed clovers, fish and a drop of rock oil (which can be replaced by beet juice). Before each battle, the Gauls line up and they all drink a ladle of this potion. The miracle then occurs - they become overwhelmingly strong, untouchable, and send the Romans flying up to seventh heaven. Like a raging storm, they wipe out everything in their way.
But the Romans have their own tactics for trying to outsmart the Gauls, and stealing the magic potion. In Asterix and the Big Fight, Roman soldiers set out to capture Getafix. Disguised as bushes, they cross the forest shaking like leaves. They even keep their sense of humor...
Sometimes they use other, more sophisticated techniques. Their forte in attacking is the tortoise formation - the soldiers get together in a rectangle: those on the sides raise their shields to the outside; the soldiers in the front hold their shields in front of them; and those in the middle hold their shields horizontally above them - the formation is protected from all sides. Their strongest defensive formation is the staggered formation: the soldiers that face the enemy set up an iron wall, with their shields and spears in front of them.
In Asterix in Britain, our flying soldiers try out several approach techniques: centurions, decurions and legionaries get together in a square, triangle or circle. But they still get crushed by the Britons, with the help of Asterix and Obelix.
In general, the Romans work hard perfecting their combat techniques. Even when they fight among themselves. You can always count on them to mess things up! In Asterix the Legionary, Asterix and Obelix are in Africa looking for Panacea’s fiance Tragicomix, who was press-ganged into Caesar’s army. Caesar is fighting Roman enemies of the Pompeian party and needs reinforcement. Asterix and Obelix attack Caesar’s camp, pretending to be centurions from Scipio’s army. To spice things up a bit, they then attack Scipio’s camp and get the two Roman armies to fight each other. This is a hilarious moment!
The poor Roman soldiers... Always getting beaten up, thrown around, humiliated... They are resigned to their fate, are terrified of the Indomitable Gauls and do everything they can to avoid them. In Asterix and the Banquet, Inspector General Overanxious sends legionaries to attack the Gaulish village. Preferring the sick list to fighting the Gauls, the legionaries must nevertheless mount an attack. When they returned to the camp of Compendium, after a fierce battle, they were covered with bruises, bumps and sores. "Was it worth being thumped just to land up back here?” they ask, as they wait in front of the sick bay. In Burdigala (Bordeaux), one of the centurions can take it no more: "And don’t talk to me about battles any more! Don’t talk to me about Gauls any more! Don’t talk to me about anything any more!”
You have to admit that the legionaries are not the sharpest lot - in Asterix in Spain, the little boy they are holding hostage, Pepe, has them wrapped around his little finger. He gets them to play hide and seek in the forest and then skips out on them. In Asterix and the Banquet, some soldiers are stopped in their tracks by César Drinklikafix, the owner of a cafe in Marseille: he is playing petanque and won’t let the army by to chase after Asterix and Obelix. "Roman, I warn you, if you interfere with our game of bowls, if you touch that jack, it will mean bloodshed! Riots! Revolution!” And, as the four men go on playing, the soldiers watch the comical scene: "And now to aim for the jack . . .” “You’re aiming high . . .” “This is a long shot, but . . .” “Take your time.” When the game is over, Asterix and Obelix are already far away...
In Asterix and the Secret Weapon, Caesar, aware of the Gauls’ famous gallantry, prepares a new plan: he trains a century of women, thinking the Gauls would never attack them. And he’s right. But, our Gaulish friends have a fertile imagination. When the feminine legion attacks the village, screaming “Wheeeeeeeee!!” they are met by tailors, fashion designers and hairdressers. The attack fails, but the Roman women leave the village with their hands full of Lutetian fashions. In Rome, Caesar is the laughing stock of all the senators. But the Roman women show that they can adapt to anything.