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Asterix and the Secret Weapon
Asterixcover-29.jpg
Original
French title
La Rose et le Glaive
Story Albert Uderzo
Illustrations Albert Uderzo
French edition 1991
English
translation
1991
Preceded by Asterix and the Magic Carpet
Followed by Asterix and Obelix All at Sea

Asterix and the Secret Weapon is the twenty-ninth volume of the Asterix comic book series and the fifth by Albert Uderzo alone. It parodies feminism and military secrets.

Plot summary

The story begins when a female bard named Bravura comes to the village to teach the children. She has been hired by the women of the village who think that Cacofonix, the current teacher of the village, is giving the children a poor education. Upon hearing this, Cacofonix leaves the village. When Bravura arrives, the women are stunned by her singing and the men laugh at it (the only difference between Bravura's singing and Cacofonix's is that when Bravura sings it doesn't rain!). Bravura is insulted and wonders how the women put up with them.

The next day Bravura asks Impedimenta about this, and tells her not to let her husband boss her around. Impedimenta then tells Vitalstatistix that since she is the chief's wife, she has as much power as he does. They both lose their tempers and Impedimenta hits Vitalstatistix. He then leaves the village, joining Cacofonix in the forest. Impedimenta is then made chief by majority vote (all the women vote for Impedimenta, but the men don't dare vote or even speak up against their wives).

Meanwhile, Julius Caesar has another plan to take over the village of indomitable Gauls. His special agent for the task, Manlius Claphamomnibus, swears to bring the "secret weapon" over the ocean discreetly.

Back at the village, the "woman dominance" has caught on to every family, basically destroying the village. Asterix, troubled by all of this from the start, is met by Bravura who tells him that if both of them settle down together they could become chiefs of the village. Asterix accuses her of coming to the village to do just that and loses his temper. Bravura picks Asterix up and kisses him, and Asterix hits her, though he feels sorry immediately after.

Asterix is brought before the new chief for breaking their laws by striking a woman, and is given temporary exile. Getafix objects to this, but Bravura argues with him, getting him angry and causing him to leave the village also. And not only does Obelix join them, but every other village man as well. The men actually have a good time in the forest, drinking beer and eating wild boar.

Claphamomnibus's ship lands at Gaul, and he unleashes the secret weapon ... female legionaries (strongly resembling amazons). Claphamomnibus's reasoning for the forming of this strange unit is that because of the Gaul warriors' code of chivalry, they cannot fight women and thus could be easily defeated. Asterix, while scouting the Romans, learns of the arrival of Claphamomnibus and his female legionnaries and is sent as an ambassador to warn the village women of the threat (they worriedly send clothes to their husbands via Asterix and Obelix, in case it gets cold at night in the forest).

Bravura tries to meet the women as an ambassador, claiming that since they are all women, they are sisters. The Roman sentry pounds her and Claphamomnibus insults her. Following this, Asterix approaches Bravura with a plan to get rid of this new problem. Part of his plan is to have Cacofonix sing songs in the forest, causing it to rain and scaring off all animals such as rabbits and snakes (and in one scene even a dragon). This scares the female Roman scout parties, causing them to retreat many times.

The rest of the plan involves the women of the village setting up a mall with the latest styles and accessories from Lutetia, and thus when the Roman women arrive to attack the supposedly undefended village they immediately become absorbed in shopping. In the meantime, the men of the village take out the fortified camps filled with male legionaries; Obelix is even allowed to destroy one of the camps single-handedly, as acknowledgment that he has not been much involved with the storyline until that point. Finally, Cacofonix sings once again as the Roman women leave the village with their shopping, and the terrified women flee Gaul on their ship with Claphamomnibus left behind.

The story ends with the Gauls in a good mood, and there seems to be a good mood in Rome as well, for Julius Caesar is the laughing stock of his nation for having had to hire women to defeat the Gauls, and, on top of this, it is again a failure.

Notes

  • An audiobook of Asterix and the Secret Weapon adapted by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge and narrated by Andrew Sachs was released on Hodder and Stoughton's Hodder Children's Audio in 1987.
  • The original French title is La Rose et le Glaive (The Sword and the Glaive). A glaive is a long spear with a shaped blade on the end. The French title may refer to 1953 film "The Sword and the Rose", and possibly also Paul Verhoeven's gruesome medieval film "Flesh & Blood" (1985) which is also known as "The Rose and the Sword".
  • The name of the Roman official, Manlius Claphamomnibus, is a pun on the English expression "the man on the Clapham omnibus" -- a legal term for a reasonably educated and intelligent but non-specialist person, an everyday person against whom a defendant's conduct might be judged in a court of law.
  • Cacofonix gets to beat up Fulliautomatix for once.
  • It borrows plot elements and visual gags from a large number of previous stories, including:
  • This is the second album in which Asterix is exiled, the first being Asterix and the Cauldron
  • Bravura is a caricature, but Uderzo would never confirm who it is. The episode came out just before Edith Cresson was named Prime Minister of France, and Uderzo says in a preliminary note that the two events are not related, even if Bravura does resemble Cresson slightly. She also resembles Christine Ockrent, a famous French journalist and television host.

In other languages

  • Ancient Greek: Μεταξύ ρόδου και ξίφους
  • Catalan: La rosa i l'espasa
  • Cretan Greek: Σπαθί και τριαντάφυλλο
  • Czech: Růže a meč
  • Danish: Rosen og Svaerdet
  • Dutch: De roos en het zwaard
  • Finnish: Ruusu ja Miekka (also translated into the Karelian dialect under the name Kallija tyttölöi (roughly translatable as Girls of Gaul))
  • German: Asterix und Maestria
  • Greek: Ρόδο και ξίφος
  • Norwegian: Damenes Inntogsmarsj, translates "The Women Marching In"
  • Italian: La Rosa e il Gladio
  • Portuguese: A Rosa e o Gládio
  • Polish: Róża i miecz
  • Pontic Greek: Σπαθιά και τριαντάφυλλα
  • Serbian: Ружа и мач
  • Spanish: Astérix, la rosa y la espada
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