The reason we know so much about the Gallic War that led up to the Asterix books is that Julius Caesar wrote a running commentary on them. It’s an invaluable resource for historians of ancient Rome. It’s unique to have this much written detail on any war of that era, so the scholars love to analyze this one to pieces. Parts of it are taught in military schools to this day.
Of course, some of it has to be taken with a grain of salt. The guy who wrote it won the war. He had good reasons for writing what he did to help further his career.
These writings can be found in a book called “Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War.” It’s been translated many times. You can read it on-line free. It’s not like the author’s heirs are going to sue for copyright infringement or anything.
It’s not exactly easy reading. I tried an audio book version of it and all the names lost me pretty quickly. It requires too much concentration.
Here are three direct references to Caesar’s Commentaries from the pages of “Asterix.”
1. The Missing Scroll
“Asterix and the Missing Scroll” by Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad is based directly on these Commentaries. Their angle is that Caesar wrote about Asterix’s village in his Commentaries, but his publisher convinced him not to include it in the final book. It was an embarrassment in his campaign, and would weaken Caesar’s attempts to get the Senate to pay for everything he wanted. And, hey, who in Rome even cares about those illiterate Gauls anymore, anyway?
They banish the scroll to prevent it from leaking out.
One of his ghostwriters doesn’t like this and leaks the missing scroll to the press.
Ferri takes this part of actual Roman history and tweaks it to not only fit the Asterix mythology, but also to make a parallel to the modern tale of WikiLeaks.
It is, arguably, the best of the three Ferri/Conrad albums so far.
2. “No Commentary”
When plotting a great triumph to rub it in the face of the Gauls that he won, he’s not happy that Vercingetorix’s iconic shield cannot be found. When told of this loss, Caesar replies, “No commentary.”
Yup, that’s a reference to his published commentaries on the Gallic Wars, too.
3. The Third Person
Perhaps because Caesar was using his Commentaries as a political tool, he wanted to make it sound legitimate and almost journalistic. To that end, he wrote them in the third person.