Of all the characters in the Asterix series of books Cacofonix is the one who exhibits the most Aspie-like traits.
He’s rather an outcast, which is chiefly due to his atrocious singing, but he is different to the villagers in a number of other ways. He’s a loner, and is often to be found on his own, writing songs up a tree or practicing his lyre on the beach where no one but the fish can hear him.
He dismisses those who diss his music as philistines and barbarians. Many of us Aspies feel that way about certain folk around us who don’t get excited about the things we do! Some of us sing in the shower, imagining it to be a stage set above a sea of adoring faces.
His distinctive hairstyle also sets him apart from the other Gauls.
He’s the only one who lives up above ground level in a tree house, which could be symbolic of being on a higher plane than the rest! Since noise tends to travel upwards, his style of residence is practical because he’s less likely to be heard by the villagers when practising his new songs!
He’s also an early example of a pacifist. He’s never thumped a Roman in his life. He is never seen going with the village guys to clobber the Romans and doesn’t participate or hit back when there is a village fight. Once he was clobbered by Fulliautomatix who can’t bring himself to beat up the elderly Getafix, whom he refers to as an old relic.
Cacofonix, Getafix and Asterix are far and away the three smartest people in the village.
Despite the unpopularity of his singing voice Cacofonix is the village schoolteacher which means his knowledge of the ancient world is generally superior to the rest, except possibly Getafix the druid. He is also a member of the village council of elders along with Getafix , Geriatrix and Chief Vitalstatistix, thus is actually rather an important individual. He’s generally well liked in a non-singing capacity and the chief was very offended when the Romans kidnapped him in Asterix the Gladiator. They immediately organize a punitive expedition to the Roman camp, only to learn that he’s being shipped to Rome as a gift for Caesar.
Almost everyone finds his singing unbearable, whether Gauls, Romans or indeed any nationality or species including animals, birds and snakes. They all show a clean pair of heels when he opens his mouth.
His singing was probably an early example of many a modern band’s repertoire. Maybe he was just too ahead of his time! They wouldn’t have appreciated Mick Jagger or Freddie Mercury either.
At the end of most books, Cacofonix is tied up to prevent him from singing at the banquet. However I like to think they save him some boar for later, when the party’s over. This would have to be successfully hidden from Obelix!
One of his few fans was Justforkix, Vitalstaistix’s nephew from Lutetia who visited the Gaulish village. Justforkix told him about the Rolling Menhirs, whom he decided to go and look for. On Asterix’s instructions Obelix reluctantly set out with Dogmatix to find the bard when the Normans expressed a desire to learn the meaning of fear. His singing caused a cow’s milk to turn sour during the trip back, during which Obelix used parsley sprigs as his defence and Dogmatix just cried until Obelix told him to be brave.
In this album, Asterix and the Normans, where he turns out to be the instrument to teach the Normans the meaning of fear by means of his singing and thus becomes the hero, Cacofonix is for once the guest of honour at the banquet on the last page, and Fulliautomatix the one to get tied up.
Fulliautomatix the blacksmith has been called “the ancestor of music critics” and hates his singing the most, but it’s a wonder he can hear at all after all that anvil hammering.
I would have loved to see Cacofonix in a reincarnated crossover to Tintin territory in a duet with Bianca Castafiore, the Sparrow of Milan, who is able to break glass with her high notes and seems to have only one major song on her repertoire which she sings ad nauseum, namely the Jewel Song from Faust. Tintin was glad in King Ottokar’s Sceptre to see that the car in which she sang for him in Syldavia, was equipped with safety glass. Snowy howls when he hears her, more likely as a form of protest than accompaniment. According to Captain Haddock her singing reminds him of a hurricane he once encountered while on his ship. Just like Cacofonix, her singing is by no means universally popular.
Well, a bard isn’t always appreciated in is home country but Cacofonix has other talents, even if singing isn’t one of them. However, he uses what he considers to be his talents, even if they are not appreciated by others! The same could be said of an eccentric Scottish poet called William McGonagall, whose poetry was so atrocious in his efforts to make things rhyme that his full works are available online and better remembered than the works of more distinguished wordsmiths.