Asterix and the Roman Agent: Latin Jokes Explained

Book 15 - Asterix and the Roman Agent


The story: In one of the best Asterix books, clever Caesar has sent a phenomenally annoying guy to sow discord in Asterix's village. Along the way, he practices his methods on the pirates.


Professor Ibrox explains: 

"Auri sacra fames - the accursed greed for gold. The old pirate is saying that men will do anything for money. It's interesting that his speech bubble isn't green - the green bubbles represent the insidious effect the annoying guy has on everyone.

"So maybe he's not saying it against the black guy who took the agent's gold, or against his shipmate whose only concern is with his share of the loot. Maybe it's a reference to whatever French political scandal was going on when it was written. Or maybe the old pirate had debased himself in his youth with his personal lust for cash so now he's above it all.

"Money makes us do crazy things, especially when we're young. Like the time this guy from Cowdenbeath asked me to wait outside a bank in Dunfermline in my car and then give him a lift to the station. He said he'd give me two thousand pounds, which was a lot of money at the time. I guess deep down I knew it wasn't kosher, but I needed some new flares and the plan went down like clockwork. But yeah, auri sacra fames."