The Gauls were afraid of nothing save the sky falling on their heads. Be it Roman legions, seafaring barbarians or even Julius Caesar himself -- nothing fazed their indomitable spirit.
It is thus strange to find within the pages of of the comic series that was started by Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny mentions of the deadly viral epidemic that had gripped the planet in 2020.
A chariot racer with "MCDLXII victories" otherwise known as 1,462, to his name, he enters Asterix and the Chariot Race straight from Rome.
His moniker is "The Masked Auriga" and according to reports, the writers were inspired by race car driver Alain Prost while creating the character.
And while we remain against coronavirus, both in the fictional world as well as in reality, he was being pressured to win the chariot race, and by Emperor Caesar no less. He does seem to be a it more scrupulous that his name might indicate in today's world, quitting the race when he learns that his co-driver cheated.
In the opening pages of the comic book, there are several pages where spectators are depicted chanting coronavirus, even ash he takes the reigns for a race.
This has naturally prompted netizens to link the book to the pandemic, with some even wondering if it had been foreseen or predicted by the writers. And while we cannot vouch for the writer's thought processes, there does not seem to be any link between the two. It must be kept in mind that the comics follow a certain style when it comes to character names. All the Gauls have names that end with the suffix "ix" while Romans have names ending with an "us".
The word "corona" is incidentally Latin for crown" or "halo". And while the current outbreak is indeed called the coronavirus, that is a collective name applied to a group of viruses. Human coronaviruses were first discovered in the 1960s.
Ultimately, Coronavirus is defeated by the heroes of the comic book. But perhaps that's where the symbolism ends in this case?
Unfortunately coronavirus rumours are not the only reason why the comic series is in the news today. On Tuesday, illustrator Albert Uderzo passed away. The French comic book artist who had created the series in 1959 had continued to work even after Goscinny's death in 1977.
Netizens were quick to reassure each other that his death was unrelated to the novel coronavirus outbreak, even as others took to Twitter to call him prescient.
Take a look at some of the reactions: