Asterix and the Golden Sickle: Latin Jokes Explained

Book 2 - Asterix and the Golden Sickle

The story - Asterix has just discovered that the mastermind behind the plot to corner the golden sickle market was none other than the bored prefect of Lutetia, Surplus Dairiprodus.  He readily admits his crime, to the astonishment of his centurion.

Professor Ibrox explains: 

"This is a very clever one.  The centurion says 'Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando?' - meaning, 'Who, what, where, with what, why, how, when?' The whole set of question words. Then the prefect says it was 'just a parsing fancy'. That's funny because (as any IT geek will know) the verb to parse means to give a grammatical description of a group of words.

"Frinstance, you could parse Jesus wept by saying Jesus is of the noun group and wept is of the verb group. In the Asterix strip, the group in - aha- question is the group of question words.

"It reminds me of a dinner we had at a Latin Convention. A chap said, 'Could you parse the salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise?' He got a terrific laugh, but it turns out he wasn't clever, he was just posh and greedy."

"A minute later the prefect adds, 'Acta est fabula,' which just means 'the play is finished.' And he is finished - it's not long before he's in the dungeon in chains."