Exploring the Classical World with the Help of Asterix

Dr Dr Lisa Dunbar Solas is an archaeologist and educator who runs the Ancient Explorer program in Adelaide, South Australia. She’s interested in the overlap between the ancient world and modern thought, for adults, and for children, and we’ve been lucky enough to have her writing entries for the Our Mythical Childhood survey. Here, she writes of her experiences surveying some of the Asterix books–the famous French comics by Goscinny and Uderzo, which have drawn so many young readers to think about the ancient world.

Front cover of Dear Earth by Isabel Otter

Over the past six months, I have been exploring the classical world with the help of Asterix and his side-kick, Obelix. In fact, I have been reading and analysing some of Asterix’ adventures as part of the Our Mythical Childhood Project. This international project is providing invaluable insights into how myth helps our youth.

What is the Mythical Childhood Project?

Our Mythical Childhood is an international project that is bringing together researchers from different disciplines, including English. Led by Professor Katarzyna Marciniak from the University of Warsaw, Poland, the project includes researchers from the United Kingdom, Israel, Cameroon and Australia.

The project explores classical myths and their influence in our tech-savvy, modern world. In particular, it explores their influence on our youth. While our world is vastly different from that of the ancient Gauls, Greeks and Romans, classical myths contain themes and topics we can all relate to. Myths can act as a moral guide, helping us to reflect on experiences and issues.

The Mythical Survey

In Australia, Dr Elizabeth Hale from the University of New England, Armidale, is leading the project in the Asia-Pacific region. Dr Hale is conducting a survey of literature and multi-media for children and adolescents. This survey will help us understand how classical literature is passed on to our younger generations and how it helps guide them into adulthood.

To date, more than 350 researchers have contributed to Our Mythical Childhood Survey and 1150 entries have already been completed.

Exploring the Classical World with the Help of Asterix

Since mid 2020, I have been reading and analysing a range of texts, including several Asterix compilations. Recently, my first two entries have been added to the survey’s online database and these come from Asterix Omnibus 6.  I invite you to read my entries for The Mansions of the Gods and The Asterix and the Laurel Wreath.

I thank Dr Hale for the wonderful opportunity to contribute to the survey. I am also grateful to Asterix and Obelix. By reading their adventure, I have learnt so much about the Ancient Rome and its relationships with the Gauls, especially during the Gallic Wars.

The next entries will come from the Spanish-speaking world and will include reimagining of famous Greek legends, such as the Odyssey by Homer. Stay tuned!

Thanks, Lisa!

Check out Lisa’s work on the Ancient Explorer program, here.

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