Asterix and the Soothsayer – Book 19
Asterix and the Soothsayer (French: Le Devin, “The Divine”) is the nineteenth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 652-673 in 1972.
Frightened by a thunderstorm, the Gauls — with the exception of Getafix, who is at his annual druid meeting — are huddled in the chief’s hut, when they are visited by a soothsayer, called Prolix, who predicts that “when the storm is over, the weather will improve” and additionally predicts a fight (caused by the villagers’ habitual argument over the over-ripeness of fish sold by fishmonger Unhygenix). Asterix alone correctly identifies the soothsayer as a charlatan.
Upon Prolix’s departure, the chief’s wife Impedimenta preserves him in hiding near the village, where she and the other villagers question him at will; forbidding only Asterix and Obelix. Later, Obelix eludes Impedimenta and, upon encountering Prolix, chases him up a tree. Prolix diverts him by claiming to see a vision of a beautiful woman who loves warriors matching Obelix’s description. Obelix returns to the village and almost instantly falls for Mrs. Geriatrix. Prolix meanwhile is arrested by an optio, who brings Prolix before the centurion of the Roman camp Compendium, who decides to use the imposter’s persuasive skills against the Gauls. Upon Impedimenta’s discovery of Asterix near Prolix’s camp, consternation spreads among the villagers on grounds of a threatened sacrilege. At the Romans’ behest, Prolix returns, claiming dramatically that soon the air in the village will become polluted by a divine curse. Terrified, most of the villagers flee to a nearby island for the curse to exhaust itself, while Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix stay behind.
The Romans soon arrive to claim the village, while Asterix and Obelix hide in the undergrowth. Getafix the druid returns from his conference, and hearing of the situation, turns Prolix’s ruse against him by creating and spreading a foul-smelling mixture of gasses. These expel the Romans, Prolix, and Cacofonix the Bard, who returns to the other Gauls on the island to confirm Prolix’s prophecy. Prolix himself is perplexed by this confirmation, while the Centurion sends word to Caesar that “all of Gaul is now conquered”; and hoping to become dictator himself, he has the soothsayer tell him exaggerated stories of the luxuries emperors enjoy. Getafix, Asterix and Obelix join the other villagers on the island, where Getafix reveals he created the “foul air” that expelled the Romans; but Impedimenta and the other women remain convinced Prolix was genuine, on grounds of his having flattered them in earlier predictions. Asterix therefore determines to take the soothsayer by surprise and thus prove him fallible.
To this end, the Gaulish men and women attack the Roman camp together; and when the Centurion demands to know why Prolix did not warn him of this, the latter admits his ignorance. Convinced of the soothsayer’s fraudulence, Impedimenta beats him and the Centurion. Returning to the village, the Gauls meet Bulbus Crocus, an envoy of Julius Caesar’s, come to confirm the Centurion’s claim that the village is conquered, and expel him. In the Roman camp, Crocus demotes the Centurion to a common soldier, who is then commanded by the Optio to clean the camp alone. Prolix is expelled from the camp, swears to give up soothsaying, and is driven away by a thunderstorm. The Gaulish village is soon at peace, with the exception of Cacofonix, who still daydreams of himself as a famous singer.