Chapter 8. Asterix in Britain

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


The Romans have invaded Britain, but a village still holds out against them. Asterix & Obelix cross the Channel to help the Britons repel the Romans...
This is advertised on the English translation as "The Greatest Asterix Adventure." It's very good, especially the "Britishisms," but I suspect this is just good advertising... More early Asterix. The final Fulliautomatix begins to harass Cacofonix here.

Table 8.1. Asterix in Britain - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 1, Panel 7 O fortunatos... = O farmers excessively fortunate if only they recognized their blessings! (Virgil, Georgics ii.458)

(alt.) 'O Fortuna' from 'Fortuna imperatrix mundi' the well known orchestral work by Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana'.

Page 3, Panel 10 Oxbridge - Oxford and Cambridge, the two universities famous for their boat race.
Page 5, Panel 5 "A Garden is a lovesome thing, god wot!" - The first line of a famous 19th century poem by Thomas Edward Brown called "My Garden".
Page 5, Panel 6 Note the souvenirs on Asterix's shelf
Page 7, Panel 5-6 "Smaller than the garden of my uncle, but larger than the pen of my aunt" - From the high-school English as taught in a popular English method of instruction in France. The French edition uses "the helmet of my nephew" for "the pen of my aunt". The book in French is full of odd-sounding literal translations of English phrases like "I say", "that's a bit of luck", "all that sort of thing", "goodness gracious", "I beg your pardon"; the English edition conveys the effect by overdoing the Bertie Wooster-ish talk.
Page 10, Panel 6 Alea jacta est = the die is cast (Julius Caesar)
Page 10, Panel 9 The Channel Tunnel or Chunnel.
Page 11, Panel 9 "In Rome do as Romans do" = St Augustine of Hippo was used to eating on Saturdays, but in Rome was obliged to fast on this day. When he mentioned this, St Ambrose replied "When I am in Milan I eat on Saturday; when I am in Rome I fast on Saturday." Robert Burton, c. 1600 restated this phrase in "Democritus to the reader" (Pt. 3 Sec. 4 Memb. 2 Subsec. 1), and it was also mentioned more famously by Miguel Cervates in "Don Quixote" (Ch. 71)
Page 14, Panel 1 Does this refer to to the St. Andrews (even though it is further north) golf course???
Page 15, Panel 10 The Beatles. It must be said that George Harrison looks strange.
Page 20, Panel 6 Uderzo momentarily forgets that the English drive on the left side of the road. He got it right in Page 13, Panel 4.
Page 20, Panel 8 "London Bridge is falling down" - traditional children's song.
Page 21, Panel 4 The statue that Asterix and Obelix walk by is a take off of a famous statue called 'Diana on the Hunt'. Except, in this version, Diana is big and crushing the stag. This might explain Obelix's affectionate gaze at her.
"Diana crushing the Stag" by Uderzo
"Diana on the Hunt"
Page 22, Panel 7 "Little Brown Jug" — a well known drinking song written by Joseph A. Winner (1837-1918).
Page 25, Panel 8 The present-day Tower of London, a popular tourist attraction, was built on the site of an old Roman fort.
Page 28, Panel 6 Park Lane is a famous high-class residential area.
Page 28, Panel 9 The UK has many housing areas featuring identical dwellings (mind you, so do many countries).
Page 32, Panel 1 "Drink to me only with thine eyes" - Ben Jonson, "The Forest. To Celia", c. 1600.
Page 32, Panel 3 Rugby
Page 32, Panel 8 Mufti: plain clothes
Page 33, Panel 1-2 A Caricature of a "British Bobby" (policeman), complete with swinging truncheon.
Page 33, Panel 5 Scottish bagpipes
Page 33, Panel 6-7 Sacred goose and hen???
Page 40, Panel 3 "that's not cricket" = not fair play; a common expression (also an anachronism, given that cricket wasn't developed until the 16th century)
Page 44, Panel 6 Fluctuat nec mergitur = It is swayed by the waves but does not sink. Motto of city of Paris.

Table 8.2. Asterix in Britain - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Cassivellaunos Cassivellaunus: historical, fought Julius Caesar in 54 BC
Mykingdomforanos Bang-on Cockney for "My Kingdom for an 'Os" ie., My Kingdom for a Horse, the cockney dutifully leaving off the 'H' sound and consequently having to use 'an' before a vowel instead of 'a' before an 'h'. "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a HORSE!" - Richard III (Shakespeare).

(alt.) "my kingdom for a nose". Interestingly, the British chief is the only character in the entire book with a small nose. In fact, compared to the nose sizes of every other character (Gauls, Brits, and Romans) his nose is so small that it almost looks like he doesn't have a nose at all."

Anticlimax Anticlimax: a drop after a peak (climax). Note that Anticlimax, a member of the tribe of Oxbridgienses, has extraordinary rowing skills.
O'veroptomistix Over optimistic: too favorable in prediction
McAnix Mechanics
Tullius Stratocumulus Tullius is a Roman name, Stratocumulus: a type of storm cloud.
Encyclopaedicus Britannicus Encyclopedia Britannica: extremely comprehensive reference encyclopedia
Dipsomaniax Dipsomaniac: Drinks too much
Haystax Hay stack
Anthrax Anthrax: virulent livestock disease
Tintax Tin tacks
Surtax Surtax: additional tax
Boadicea Boadicea was a queen of the Iceni in Britain who led a futile revolt against the Romans in 61 AD.
Camulodonum Modern city of Colchester, England
Cantium Kent
Durovernum Canterbury
Hiphiphurrax Hip hip hurray