A New Hercules? The Twelve Tasks of Asterix
The popular French comic strip Asterix is a modern day myth, which provides the readers with an imaginary world of heroes, living in the timeless year of 50 BC, in a fantasy land which is supposed to be Roman Gaul. The mythographers, as it were, the author René Goscinny and the artist Albert Uderzo, succeeded in turning harsh history into a popular illustrated tale, creating an image more powerful than any historical account. While this aspect has been explored to a certain extent, most notably in the collection Ils sont fous… d’Astérix! (Catalogue de l’Exposition, Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires; Paris: Éditions Albert René, 1996), subtitled un mythe contemporain, there are still areas which are worthy of further study, particularly the relationship of Asterix to ancient mythology.
Of particular interest is the animated feature film The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (Les Douze Travaux d’Astérix) produced in 1976, the only film to be based on an original screenplay that was firstly not preceded by a comic book in the series and, secondly, to be written by Goscinny and Uderzo. This chapter focuses on the unique medium of the screen in presenting the story, as opposed to the written/illustrated one of the Bandes Dessinée, to address the plot, which casts Asterix as a Hercules surrogate, and examine the de-construction and re-construction of the myth of Hercules in the context of the only representation of Greco-Roman gods and goddesses in this series.
Provisional content for The Modern Hercules (Volume 1)