Asterix in Spain: Latin Jokes Explained

Book 14 - Asterix in Spain


The story: The Romans have kidnapped a little Spanish boy in order to keep his troublemaking father in check. Stupidly, they decide to take him to Totorum, one of the forts near Asterix's village. Sure enough, Asterix and Obelix beat up the soldiers and rescue the kid. The Romans are glum, until one has a sudden realisation: 

Professor Ibrox explains: 

"The first soldier says it'll be all right because it doesn't matter if the kid is holed up in Totorum or in Asterix's village. Either way, the kid will be a long way from home and his father kept in line.

"The second one says, 'Beati pauperes spiritu', which means 'blessed are the poor in spirit'. As you know, that's from the Bible. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"You can imagine him saying it pretty sarcastically, I would have thought. He's just had a thrashing and doesn't share the first guy's optimism."



The story: Asterix has, unusually, been outwitted by an undercover Roman, and is now locked up. A Roman general comes to his cell to tell him that Obelix is still at large, and has the Spanish kid.

Professor Ibrox explains: 

"The general complains that Asterix has disturbed the Pax Romana, the roman peace. But, he says, it's an ill wind that blows no good. That is, every cloud has a silver lining.

"The silver lining in this situation is that he can use Asterix as entertainment in a circus. Circuses are the focus of the Latin phrase he uses. 'Panem et circenses' simply means 'bread and circuses', a phrase used by Juvenal to describe governments who distract their citizens through spectacles, showmanship, and starchy food instead of running the country in a fair and humane way.

"Juvenal was spot on and thousands of years later his message holds true. This London 'government' (that no-one in Scotland voted for) - they're quite happy for us to have the X-Factor, trashy tabloid viewspapers, and fast food, but don't invest in education or social programmes. The country is becoming a cultural wasteland; it's 20 years since one of my students came to class knowing  what a comma splice is."


Have you seen Asterix vs Hitler yet?