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Asterix

Asterix (originally Astérix) is the hero of a series of comic books created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in France. The books have been translated into many languages (including Latin and ancient Greek) and are available in most countries.

Asterix lives in a village in northwest Gaul, the only part of that country not yet conquered by Julius Caesar. The inhabitants of the village gain superhuman strength from drinking a magic potion prepared by the druid Getafix (originally Panoramix - names of all characters exept "Asterix" and "Obelix" vary from one translation to another). Many books in the Asterix series have as their main plot the attempt by the Roman army of occupation to prevent the druid from making the potion, or the attempt to get some of it for their own use. Such attempts are inevitably foiled by Asterix and his friend Obelix.

The humour encountered in the Asterix comics often centres on anachronistic caricatures and stereotypes of contemporary European nations. In Asterix and the Goths, for instance, the Goths are represented as militaristic and regimented, reminiscent of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germans. The helmets worn by these Goths even resemble the German pickelhaube helmets worn up to World War I and one of their leaders bears an uncanny resemblance to Otto von Bismarck. The British are shown always cutting their green with scissors, drinking hot water (before the first tea has been brought to England by Asterix) and cooking badly.

However, in many other respects the series reflects life in the 1st century BC as accurately as can be expected from the medium. The text makes relatively regular use of original Latin proverbs.

A key feature of the text of the Asterix books are the constant puns used as names of characters; English language examples include the chief (VitalStatistix), the druid (Getafix) and the woeful bard of the village (Cacofonix). Incidental characters often feature names like "Hiphiphurrax" and "Mykingdomforanos". This punning tradition occurs in other languages; for example, in the French original, the chief is called "Abraracourcix", derived from the phrase "bras raccourcis" meaning 'with arms raised and ready, ready to punch'. The Egyptian in Astérix Légionnaire is named "Courdeténis" in French, "Ptenisnet" in English.

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