Ils sont fous, ces Romains!
eel saw FOO, say roh-MAA! Click below to hear the phrase:
These Romans are crazy!
If you’ve never read the stories of these courageous Celts (Bretons, to be specific) who held off the Romans long after the rest of Gaul had been conquered, you’d better hurry off to your favorite bookstore and buy an album or two. Widely translated, there’s an excellent chance they are available in your language. They are full of Gallic humor, puns, word and image play, and Celtic pride. (To this day, the Bretons–people from Brittany, or Bretagne, not to be confused with Britons, from Great Britain) claim a measure of independence–cultural, if not governmental–from France.)
Astérix and Obélix, conceived by Goscinny and Uderzo and pictured above, are the two main characters: Astérix (aass-tay-REEKS) the star (as in astérisque*), and Obélix (oh-bay-LEEKS) his sidekick (as in obélisque, called a menhir in Breton (men-HEER, meaning tall stone, the version of Stonehenge found all over Bretagne).
Astérix, the “little guy”, is the clever one. Obélix is not overly bright, but is totally loyal to Astérix. And, since he fell into the vat of magic potion as a baby, he is permanently endowed with the superhuman strength that the rest of the villagers get by drinking the potion. Obélix can carry menhirs, knock a whole garrison of Romans silly, and then go off and catch himself a whole boar to eat.
Since the ways of the Romans are obscure to these valiant and impossibly clever Celts (why on earth do they keep attacking the little village, when they know they are going to be repulsed time and time again?), Obélix frequently shakes his head, taps his temple with his finger, and exclaims, Ils sont fous, ces Romains! The phrase has permanently entered the language, used whenever the intelligence of someone else’s ways eludes you, and now it’s yours, too. Have fun with it!
And, by the way, you can find downloadable and printable coloring pages of Astérix and Obélix at THIS LINK. Feel free to scan your artwork and send it to My Spk Frnch! Be sure to include your name or username…unless you want to remain anonymous.