Chapter 10. Asterix the Legionary

Rene Goscinny

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge


When the fiancee of a village maiden is forced to join the Roman legion, Asterix & Obelix join up to rescue him. With their new fellow legionaries they travel to Africa where Caesar is busy fighting...
End of the early period. Although almost none of the other villagers are named yet. The drawing is nicely settled in, though, and they've all taken their final appearances. Tragicomix is a caricature of French actor Jean Marais (1913-1998).

Table 10.1. Asterix the Legionary - Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 6, Panel 5 "Quomodo Vales?" = How are you?
Page 9, Panel 1-2 Historically accurate
Page 12, Panel 6 Parody of the British WW II propaganda song — "We're going to hand out the washing on the Siegfried Line"
Page 13, Panel 2 Timeo Danaos et dona Ferentes = I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts (Virgil, Aeneid ii.48).
Page 14 Panel 7 Ptenisnet's hieroglyphics are hotel and restaurant rating symbols from the "Guides Michelin," a popular series of French travel guides.
Page 17, Panel 9 Note how the translator translates the Centurion's swear words into Gothic.
Page 17, Panel 11 "An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman..." = Common starting line of jokes. The Belgian has the haircut of Belgian character Tintin.
Page 20, Panel 9 The British have a reputation for some of the world's worst cuisine.
Page 21, Panel 10 Crystallized fruits = candied fruits.
Page 22, Panel 1 Maniple = 1/3rd a cohort. Century = originally 100 menu, but here just a further subdivision of maniple.
Page 24, Panel 6 Vis comica = The strenght of the comical. It is a quote from an epigram from Caesar about the Latin poet Terentius.
Page 27, Panel 5 Gateau a la creme = A very rich cake with cream.
Page 28, Panel 2 Pluto is the god of Hell
Page 29, Panel 2 Thapsis/Thapsus = Older editions had this misspelled as Thapsis. The 2004 English edition has this corrected to "Thapsus". Thapsus was where Julius Caesar defeated Pompey and King Juba in 46 B.C.
Page 29, Panel 5-6 Black Fox / Wolf Emblem = ???. This is the same as the one in Page 36, Panel 5 of Asterix and the Great Crossing.
Page 29, Panel 6 The blue shield looks like the United Nations logo. But on Page 31, Panel 8 it has changed!
Page 30, Panel 1 "Never on Sunday!" - a popular movie and song from the 60's, starring Melina Mercouri. The French is 'Tu te des beux dimanches, quand tu mettais la toge blanche' = "Do you remember the beautiful sundays, when you wore the white gown" (From the French song "C'est loin tout ça, Paroles de Georges Ulmer et Géo Koger, Musique de Georges Ulmer - 1946). Most translations seem to have something to do with Sunday in them.

"Cruising down the river..." = "Cruising Down the River (on a Sunday Afternoon)" by Blue Baron Circa 1949

Page 30, Panel 3 This layout corresponds to 'The Raft of the Medusa' (1819) by the French artist Theodore Gericault. Hence the pirate saying "...framed by Jericho."
"The Raft of the Medusa" (1819) by Theodore Gericault
"Framed by Jericho" by Uderzo
Page 31, Panel 8 Thapsus - port of Ras Dimas, in modern day Tunisia.
Page 32, Panel 1 Quo vadis = where are you going? The camp layout is authentic.
Page 33, Panel 1 Numidia = North Africa
Page 33, Panel 6 The guy to the left of Caesar is Charlier - a textwriter colleague of Goscinny.
Page 35, Panel 7 Dignus est intrare = He is worthy of entering. A watchmaker was accepted into the Watchmaker's Guild of Geneva (Founded 1601) with these words.
Page 37, Panel 5 Cry in the wilderness refers to John the Baptist (Mt 3:3; Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4; Jn 1:23)
Page 37, Panel 7 Cogito, ergo sum = I think, therefore I am (Rene Descartes).
Page 38, Panel 4 Alea jacta est = the die is cast (Julius Caesar)
Page 40, Panel 4 Phalanx = wide and deep formation, shields and spears overlapping; Quincunx = square with one at each corner and one in the center; Tortoise = formation with shields locking over heads, for when besieging walls.
Page 40, Panel 6 (American) Cleopatra's Needle is either of two ancient Egyptian obelisks, one in New York City, the other in London today.

Table 10.2. Asterix the Legionary - Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment
Panacea Panacea: a cure-all
Soporifix Soporific: something that induces sleep
Postaldistrix Postal districts: areas for mail delivery.
Tragicomix Tragicomic: something having both tragic and comical aspects.
Pompey Historical person - Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (106-48 BC), Roman general and triumvirate. Not pleased when Caesar dissolved the triumvirate to become supreme, civil war ensued.
Erroneus Erroneous: something incorrect
Neveratalos Never at a loss
Selectivemploymentax Selective employment tax: British tax
Gastronomix Gastronomics: the art of good eating
Hemispheric Hemispheric: like half a sphere
Allegoric Allegoric: an allegory is basically a parable
Ptenisnet Tennis net
Nefarius Purpus Nefarious purpose: a fiendish goal
Dubius Status Dubious status
Juba, Afranius Both historical
Scipio Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, Pompeius' father-in-law and one of Caesar's hardest enemies in the civil war. He was captured several times in Italy and Spain, but caesar always let him go.

Could also be Q. Metellus Pius Scipio. He was defeated at the Battle of Thapsus when Caesar's men turned his (Scipio's) elephants against his own men. Caesar was unable to control his troops, and they slaughtered the Pompeians. Scipio committed suicide while fleeing to Hispania

H2SO4 (Vitriolix) Sulfuric acid: H2SO4 is the chemical formula, it's occasionally known as vitriol
Garrulus Vinus Garrulous: talkative about unimportant things, Vinus: wines.