The traumatic experiences inflicted by Asterix the Gaul

Maybe, like me, you enjoyed reading the comic book stories of Asterix the Gaul, by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. It is just possible that neither you nor I read the stories as being factual historical accounts. And if that was so, we might not have concerned ourselves unduly with the physical consequences of all the fighting, facilitated as it was on occasion by magic potions.

But then again, maybe that was a wholly irresponsible way of engaging with the Asterix adventures. At any rate, a group of German academics from Düsseldorf have spent some time analysing the oeuvre, and they have come up with a significant finding: the Asterix adventures as recorded contain 704 cases of violently inflicted head injury – mostly committed by the eponymous hero and his associates. Of these cases, 390 involved ‘severe trauma’, from the physical symptoms that were visible.

The Guardian‘s careful report of all this focuses ultimately on an important health and safety element: the tendency of the Roman victims to be careless about wearing or keeping on their helmets, as this made the trauma worse.

What do I conclude, myself? Well, it seems to me that the Heinrich Heine Universität in Düsseldorf is the place to be. If you feel that the Roman victims of Asterix need more advice. Or maybe if you just like reading Asterix.

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8 Comments on “The traumatic experiences inflicted by Asterix the Gaul”

  1. iainmacl Says:

    Yes, it seems the lack of chin straps on the helmets is the major issue here, as is the tendency for mistletoe-based drugs to lead to enhanced strength. Fortunately, however, recovery from most of these trauma cases was rather rapid and led to no fatalities.

  2. Steve B Says:

    What I conclude from this post is that this is yet another example of a University carrying out utterly useless research and wasting money.
    The same lot are probably also whinging about not having sufficient money to spend on teaching.
    God Almighty would the University sector wake up to this nonsense and stop promoting pointless research.

    • Vincent Says:

      And if it was called A study of national propaganda; the use of soft power in the reinforcing of French Nationality.

    • no-name Says:

      Steve B: Could you please expand on why you think this research is “utterly useless”? Personally I think that research into popular literature is great and beneficial to society as a whole (I think we have discussed this before). I would think long and hard before declaring that another person’s research, while it may be different to yours (and, therefore, you may not understand it), is “useless”. Not funding such projects means that one is drawing a line somewhere in critical thinking. This should never be done.

      Further, what qualifies one to determine what is or isn’t “pointless research”?

    • iainmacl Says:

      ach come on, it was done in their spare time for amusement as are a number of papers – not least of which was the recent one that showed that Guiness really does taste better in Ireland – based on several tasters sampling Guinness every time they went to an international conference! People have senses of humour and its not that they are wasting tax payers’ money. Lots of groups use this kind of approach for fun but also to make a point and in this case it got the issue of brain injury into the media spotlight. Lighten up.

  3. cormaccormac Says:

    And here’s me grappling with the intricicies of quantum theory and relativity. Not for the first time, I wonder did I pick to wrong subject to study

  4. Dan Says:

    Funny, when I read that story, I laughed…you could just imagine them planning the paper at coffee, agreeing the different tasks, and then filling out a database over a few evenings with a glass of wine.

    No doubt if we googled the authors, we’d find they had a respectable list of serious publications…

    If you assumed however that all academics are a waste of space, and was badly in need of a sense-of-humor transplant, then I could see how you’d leap to an annoyed state….


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