Chapter 1. Geography — The World According to Asterix

Table of Contents

Cities and Countries
The Roman Camps

The World According to Asterix

In the world of 50 BC the world looks different because of different borders and places and countries are sometimes known by other names.

Cities and Countries

Table 1.1. Cities and countries that appear in Asterix comics and their modern names

Location Current Name. Comments
Agylla A city on the east coast of Corsica. See map at the beginning of Asterix in Corsica.
Aleria A Roman fortress and port on the east coast of Corsica. See map at the beginning of Asterix in Corsica
Alesia Capital of the Gaulish tribe of Mandubians, on the Mount Auxois, near Alise-Sainte-Reine in the Cote-d'Or in Burgundy. A Celtic hill fort and center of Celtic resistance where Vercingetorix surrendered to Caesar in 52 BC. The surrender marked the beginning of the complete romanization of the country. For years nobody could agree on the exact location of Alesia (this angle is played well in the Asterix books). Some people were convinced that the historic Alesia was near the small town of Alaise, in the Franche-Comtè, while others thought it was in a town barely larger, called Alise-Sainte-Reine in Burgundy near the upper Seine, near the hill of Vix. The debate could have continued for years, but the believers of the second version were lucky in having Napoleon on their side. He funded archaeological studies to verify his hypothesis. The campaign undertaken between 1861 and 1865 near Alise-Sainte-Reine unearthed enough evidence for this town to claim the name of Alesia.
Alexandria Merchant port at the western top of the Nile. Egypt's second largest city. Founded in 323 BC by Alexander the Great. Most of Asterix and Cleopatra takes place here.
Armorica Western France. Home of Asterix's village. An ancient and literary name for the northwest part of France, especially Brittany. In 56 BC, Julius Caesar conquered the region of Brittany for Rome. This addition to the Roman Empire was known by two names: Armorica, a Romanization of the Celtic word for seaside, and Gallia Lugdunensis. (In 440 BCE the Gaulish town of Ys, in Armorica (modern Brittany), is overwhelmed by a great flood, and submerged beneath the sea — the foundation of many such legends of lost cities.)
Arvenia Central France (now Auvergne). The Arvenians rose up against Caesar in 53 BC. This is the location of Asterix and the Chieftains Shield
Aquitania SW France
Babylon Ancient city located on the banks of lower Euphrates (Southern Iraq). It was the capital of the Babylonian empire in the 3rd Century BC. Destroyed in 482 BC by Persian king Xerxes I.
Belgica NE France / Belgium
Brittany (Armorica) Brittany (Armorica (q.v.)) is Celtic not because it resisted Romanization, but because it was settled by Britons fleeing the Germanic invasion of Britain. The modern Breton language is most closely related to Welsh and Cornish.
Briton Britain
Caledonia Scotland
Carnac City on the south coast of Britanny.
Carnutes, Forest of Place where Gaulish druids used to meet to hold counsel and resolve disputes. Julius Caesar mentions this in his writings.
Celtica West France
Condatum Rennes, France. Large town in 50 BC.
Corsica Island in western Mediterranean.
Durocortum Reims. The center of the Champage region. Asterix and Obelix take an amphora of the beverage in Asterix and the Banquet.
Durovernum Canterbury in the south-eastern tip of England.
Gaul Formerly Gallia. An ancient region of western Europe south and west of the Rhine River, west of the Alps, and north of the Pyrenees. Corresponding roughly to modern-day France and Belgium. The Romans extended the designation to include northern Italy, particularly after Julius Caesar's conquest of the area in the Gallic wars (58-51 BCE). The historical name for the region where Celts lived from the 6th century B.C. It seems only Armorica was able to conserve its Celtic culture after the Roman invasion.
Gergovia Site of battle in 52 BC where Vercingetorix beat Julius Caesar (temporarily), in France. Fortified town of the Arvenians. South of Clermont-Ferrand.
Goth (Germania) Germany.
Helvetia Switzerland. Well, not completely, but...
Hibernia Ireland
Hispania Spain (the Spanish are Iberians)
Londinium London
Lugdunum Lyons, France. Capital of Roman Gaul
Lusitania Portugal
Lutetia Paris (or actually the city on an island which expanded to become Paris). Greatest city in Gaul. Founded as a fishing village, it was captured and fortified by the Romans in 52 BCE. Clovis I made it the capital of his kingdom after CE 486, and Hugh Capet (Frank invader) established it as the capital of France after his accession to the throne in 987. In Asterix Leutatia mostly signifies the city as opposed to the village and all the consequent contraptions like traffic jams, height of fashion and modern lifestyle.
Massilia Marseilles, Mediterranean port in France. The Romans Latinized it to Massila.
Mesopotamia Land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, today part of Iraq
Nicae Nice, France.
Nubia Africa (south of Egypt)
Phoenicia Coastal region from the eastern Mediterranean to Jordan and Lebanon.
Provincia SE France