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The untold tale of Asterix and the brain-damaged Romans

by  in Comic News Comment

Poring over 34 volumes of Asterix, German scientists were astonished to discover 704 cases of traumatic head or brain injury, a staggering 65 percent of which involved Roman soldiers, making you wonder whether the conquest of Gaul was really worth it.

René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s heroes, Asterix and his sidekick Obelix, delivered more than half the blows, which The Telegraph points out frequently left the victims unconscious or amnesiac, but never, y’know, dead. Surprising … in a children’s comic? Well, the scientists seem to think so.

“The favourable outcome is astonishing,” lead researcher Marcel Kamp is quoted as saying, “since outcome of traumatic brain injury in the ancient world is believed to have been worse than today and also since no diagnostic or therapeutic procedures were performed.”

Hey, maybe the Romans were swigging that druid-brewed magic potion, too.

The study found that although Romans accounted for 450 of the victims, there were plenty of injuries to go around: 120 Gauls, 59 bandits or pirates, 20 Goths, eight Vikings and five Britons.

If, like me, you thought this study sounds vaguely familiar, you’re probably thinking of the 2004 analysis of Tintin, which attributed the boy reporter’s delayed puberty and lack of libido to a growth-hormone deficiency and … repeated blows to the head. Specifically, “50 significant losses of consciousness in 16 of Tintin’s 23 books.”

There’s no word yet as to whether the Romans suffered the same problems.