Surplus Dairiprodus

Getting in trouble as a way to stave off boredom could well have been the motto of Surplus Dairiprodus, Prefect of Lutece in the album Asterix and the Golden Sickle

This unusual character, who Albert Uderzo imbued with the features of American actor Charles Laughton (famous for playing Roman statesmen in films such as Cecil B. DeMille's Sign of the Cross or Spartacus by Stanley Kubrick), only begins to show the merest hint of a smile when it becomes clear that the trade in golden sickles (that he has masterminded) may in fact earn him a place as a galley slave or have him served up as dinner to the lions in the circus! The rest of the time, he tries in vain to keep tedium at bay while stuffing his face with food, all the while maintaining a countenance of the most abject world-weariness imaginable as he languishes on a sofa strewn with cushions.

There can be no doubt that the portrait painted of this high-placed Roman official is deliberately calculated to show an irreverent view of the grandeur of Rome! The authors thereby drive home one of the pillars of the Asterix philosophy: the conflict between the Gauls and the Romans is to symbolize the triumph of indomitable joie de vivre over imperial gloominess!

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