Asterix in Britain: Latin Jokes Explained

Book 8 - Asterix in Britain


The story - Julius Caesar invades Britain, sending his invincible army on hundreds of ships.  The Pirates get in the way.


Professor Ibrox explains: 

"The 'we weren't fleet enough' gag is ace. Fleet, ships, fleet, fast. (By the by, I quite like the Fleet Foxes. It's good bath music.) But you wanted to know what 'O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint agricolas' is all about.

"It's a quote from Virgil. He's BY A MILE the best Roman poet. He's also the best one in Thunderbirds. Virgil - the poet one - wrote a book about farming. Seems dull, right? WRONG. It's all about Augustan politics. It's like The West Wing, but in a poem.

"The quote means 'Oh how happy those farmers would be, if only they knew how lucky they are.' Like, right now the farmers are probably complaining about their sheep being too white or something, wishing they'd gone to pirate school. But Virgil says it's better to be a farmer than to have your ship mashed to splinters by a huge Roman navy."


The story - Later in the story, the pirate captain decides to run aground instead of being sunk again.


Professor Ibrox explains: 

"The old pirate is great. Here, he goes, 'Fluctuat nec mergitur.' It means, 'It is tossed by the waves but does not sink.' He's joking about the captain's so-called victory. Sure, technically they didn't sink...

"But I've started looking for hidden meanings in all these Asterix strips - there was something about the phrase that sounded like a motto. I had to look it up, to be honest, but it turns out to be the motto of Paris itself!

"A little Parisian in-joking never hurt anyone, except maybe Alfred Dreyfus."



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