Asterix and Cleopatra

Asterix and Cleopatra

Infobox Asterix
Title=Asterix and Cleopatra

Frenchtitle=Astérix et Cléopâtre
Story=René Goscinny
Illustrations=Albert Uderzo
Preceded="Asterix and the Banquet"
Followed="Asterix and the Big Fight"|

"Asterix and Cleopatra", the sixth book in the Asterix comic book series by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. It was first published in serial form in "Pilote" magazine, issues 215-257, in 1963.


The book begins with an argument between Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and Julius Caesar, in which Caesar belittles the accomplishments of the Egyptian people. Infuriated, Cleopatra makes a wager with Caesar promising to build a new palace in Alexandria within three months. Cleopatra summons Edifis, who claims to be the best architect in Egypt. She promises Edifis that if he builds the palace on time he will be covered with gold; if he fails, he will be a meal for the sacred crocodiles.

A worried Edifis enlists the help of the Gauls, Asterix, Obelix, Getafix, and Dogmatix. Thanks to Getafix and his magic potion, the work goes forward on schedule, despite multiple attempts by Edifis's arch rival, Artifis, to sabotage the construction.

Just before the palace is due to be completed, Caesar intervenes by sending legions to try and destroy the palace. The Gauls fight off the Roman soldiers, but Caesar proceeds to shell the building with his catapults. In desperation, Asterix and Dogmatix deliver the news to Cleopatra. A furious Cleopatra then hurries to the construction site to give Caesar a thorough tongue lashing. Caesar's legions are required to fix the damage they caused (without any magic potion to help them) and the palace is successfully completed on time. Cleopatra wins her bet and covers Edifis with gold.

Cultural references

* The title is a reference to William Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra". However, the book is largely an extended parody of the then-recent film "Cleopatra", starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The book's cover parodies the film's poster (right).

* A lot of the names of the Egyptians have a suffix on "-is": Edfiis (Edifice), Artifis (artifice)

* A running gag throughout the album (and also later albums) is Cleopatra's beautiful nose, which is admired by everyone around. Cleopatra's nose has become legendary in historical writings.

* In the original version Edifis says to Getafix on page 7: "Mon cher ami, Je suis très heureux de te voir." ("My dear friend, I'm very glad to see you.") Getafix responds: "C'est un alexandrin" (A pun which can mean : "An alexandrian" (someone from Alexandria) or "an alexandrine" (a verse with 12 syllables, like the sentence he says to Getafix)).

* On page 8 Vitalstatistix salutes Asterix and Obelix by saying that they represent the spirit of the Gauls at the banks of the Nile. An allusion to the Suez Canal which was built by French engineers.

* On page 9 Edifis says that Artifis has "many talents". Asterix asks him if he is a fine architect? Edifis responds: "No, a rich one. He has many golden talents! That's the name of our coins.". A pun on the coin talent and talent as a type of something one could be good at.

* On page 10 Obelix is baffled by the Lighthouse of Alexandria which guides ships to the harbor. Getafix responds: "It's a world wonder, Obelix." The Lighthouse of Alexandria was indeed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

* When Edifis introduces the Gauls to his writer he says that he "speaks several living languages such as Latin, Greek, Celtic and Gaulish." All these languages, except Greek, are now dead languages.

* The writer on page 10 says that "if you can draw, you can write and vice versa". A reference to the graphical nature of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

* The way Obelix pulls the ships forward while running on the shore references water skiing.

* A famous scene in the album occurs on page 20 when Obelix climbs the sphinx and accidentally breaks its nose. Many sphinx statues don't have a nose. Two theories circulate as an explanation. One states that the Egyptians didn't know how to built noses. Another says that Napoleon's soldiers shot the nose off during their Egyptian expedition in the 19th century. For other theories see .

* On page 23 while looking at the pyramids Getafix says to Obelix: "20 centuries look down upon you." This references Napoleon's citation to his soldiers in the 19th century in front of the pyramids : "40 centuries look down upon you."

* When the Gauls visit Luxor Obelix wants to take one of the obelisks with him. Obelix' name is a pun on the word "obelisk". This joke also references the fact that centuries later Napoleon's soldiers took one of the obelisks with them to France. It still can be viewed on the Place de la Concorde.

* On page 30 Cleopatra says she wants to be portrayed in profile. Her sculptor mentions: "Ah, you like modern art?". A reference to the one dimensional paintings and portraits in Ancient Egyptian art.

* Artifis read the "Pharaon Soir" (pun on "France Soir) and the feuilleton "Chère-Bibis" can be viewed on the back page. In the English version the comic has been replaced by "Pnuts" (Peanuts) and Tarzan.

* On page 39 the Roman legion makes uses of their "tortoise attack". When they flee a small caption says they use the tactic of the hare. A pun on the story of The Tortoise and the Hare.

* Edifis says on page 45 that the palace is finished AND before the deadline. A small caption states: "A rare occurrence for buildings in those days." The underlying joke is that in ancient centuries buildings took years or even centuries to build in comparison with nowadays. The joke could also be meant to mean exactly the opposite: that buildings are built at a generally slow pace in comparison with the speed in the album.

* Asterix says to Cleopatra on page 47 that if the Egyptians need some more Gaulish help to built a channel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea for instance, she can always contact them. Again, a reference to the Suez Channel.

Relationship to other "Asterix" books

In most "Asterix" books, Obelix is not permitted to drink the Magic Potion, but Getafix makes an exception due to an extraordinary requirement (the need to force open a solid stone door inside a pyramid). Obelix notices no difference, but keeps asking for more potion in subsequent volumes.

Obelix's dog, Dogmatix, is named for the first time in this story. It is also the first story in which Dogmatix takes a significant role (rescuing the heroes from a maze inside a Pyramid).

The recurring pirate characters appear in this book; unusually, the captain expresses his determination to wreak revenge on the Gauls (in other books, he simply wishes never to encounter them again).

Film adaptations

This album has been adapted for film twice: first as an animated 1968 film entitled "Asterix and Cleopatra"), and then as a live-action 2002 film called "".

In other languages

*Ancient Greek: "Αστερίκιος και Κλεοπάτρα"
*Bengali: "Asterix o Cleopatra"
*Catalan: "Astèrix i Cleòpatra"
*Danish: "Astèrix og Kleopatra"
*Dutch: "Asterix en Cleopatra"
*Finnish: "Asterix ja Kleopatra". This was the first Asterix adventure to be translated into Finnish.
*German: "Asterix und Kleopatra"
*Greek: "Αστερίξ και Κλεοπάτρα"
*Hindi: "Estriks aur Klyopetraa"
*Icelandic: "Ástríkur og Kleópatra"
*Italian: "Asterix e Cleopatra"
*Norwegian: "Asterix og Kleopatra"
*Polish: "Asteriks i Kleopatra"
*Portuguese: "Astérix e Cleópatra"
*Serbian: "Астерикс и Клеопатра"
*Spanish: "Asterix y Cleopatra"
*Swedish: "Asterix och Kleopatra"
*Turkish: "Asteriks ve Kleopatra"

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