Asterix and Obelix All at Sea: Latin Jokes Explained

Book 30 - Asterix and Obelix All at Sea


The story. Caesar's galley is stolen by slaves. The slaves join forces with Asterix, but Obelix imbibes some magic potion that turns him into a toddler. On their way to solve the problem they sail towards the pirates. The pirate captain yells 'Ave Caesar!' because he doesn't want trouble with the Romans he assumes are sailing the craft, but the landlubber Gauls accidentally crash into him.


Professor Ibrox explains:

"This scene seems a bit of a mess to me. What looks like the second speech bubble, from the black pirate, only makes sense if it's the third bubble. Pegleg's Latin quote should be read second. The gag is the black pirate's use of the words injury and juicy, puns on the Latin injuria and jus.

"Translation time: Summum jus summa injuria is a maxim meaning ‘extreme justice is extreme injustice.’

"It's used in law to say that if you make inflexible rules you're only creating more injustice. Let's take the classic example of stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family. If you would imprison a man for that crime, some people might agree, some might disagree with you. But if you chopped his hand off, that's clearly too extreme and summun jus would apply.

"I can think of a real-life example if that helps. You know how in shops they have signs saying 'shoplifters will be prosecuted'? That's a bit summun jus summa injuria, because what if it's a mother stealing bread for her child, or a penniless academic who borrows a four-pack of Stella Artois? If the world was just, the world would understand their plight."


The story. The pirates have struck a deal with Asterix and are now in possession of Caesar's galley. All is going swimmingly for them, until Pegleg offers a drink to their enslaved enemy, Admiral Crustaceous. Pegleg doesn't realise it is actually some of Getafix's magic potion.


Professor Ibrox explains:

"Didn't we have this six or seven times already? It must be one of the more common bits of Latin in Asterix, along with alea jacta est. This one is a quote from Horace, and Pegleg is saying, 'Wazzup dude, it's party time! Get your drink on!' I would just like to repeat that Pegleg is the best character in the Asterix books - look at him bringing some booze to a thirsty man. He's a true born gent.

"I suppose one is compelled to furnish a proper translation. For that, I'll bring up the whole quote from the Odes. It goes: Nunc est Bibendum, nunc pede liberi pulsanda tellus. That is: Now it is the time to drink, and now it is time for the loose feet to hit the floor.

"Other translations use the phrase 'to dance footloose upon the earth'. I wonder if that's where the movie got its name? Remind me to tweet to Kevin Bacon when they let me out of this cell."


The story. Giving magic potion to a burly prisoner isn't a good idea - the admiral biffs the pirates off his ship and retakes command. The pirates lick their wounds.


Professor Ibrox explains:

"I love this! For once Pegleg has messed up, so it's the captain who comes out with the Latin stylings.

"He says, Felix Qui Potuit Rerum Cognoscere Causas, meaning 'Happy be he who can recognise the cause of things.' That's from Gerogica 2 by quote-machine Virgil. It's super passive aggressive.

"Then the black guy does his bit, punning on potuit (potty) and causas (causes). I think he's talking about a bowel problem that makes ones poop come out weird, but I'm no expert in such matters. I haven't eaten solid food in 4 years. Hops and wheat are the only nutrients this body needs!"