One of the best ways to learn is through a book that’s engaging and fun. And a great way to learn about Roman times is to read the hilarious Asterix and Obelix comics by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Through these books, readers learn about early French, British, Roman, and Egyptian culture. They discover what it’s like to live in that era and how difficult it would have been to navigate Roman ruling powers.
As a young homeschooler, I spent many hours pouring over children’s Asterix cartoons that were so witty they often made even my parents laugh. I didn’t realize how much I was learning because I was so thoroughly engaged and entertained. For this reason, I realize how special these cartoons are and hope every child can become intimately familiar with them!
What are the Asterix and Obelix Comics About?
The basic theme across the Asterix and Obelix comics is ‘the little guy against the big guy’ or the little guy against the system.
It’s a story of two Gaul’s (ancient Celtic people) who live in a small Celtic village with a druid who makes a magic potion. This magic potion makes the whole village indomitable. Consequently, their village is the only place in the Roman Empire that hasn’t been conquered.
While Asterix needs to drink the potion to become strong, Obelix is permanently strong by virtue of having fallen into a cauldron of magic potion when he was a baby.
Although Obelix is permanently strong, he’s also stupid. In contrast, Asterix is the brains of the two – and generally the brains of the whole village.
These two heroes go out on missions from time-to-time to help their village or to help strangers who come to them in need.
What Was Happening in History At This Point?
Asterix and Obelix comics are set roughly around the time Caesar conquered Gaul. Political tensions were high as country after country was taken over by Rome.
Thanks to Gallic Wars, we now know a lot about the conquest of Gaul. Gallic Wars is an ancient manuscript outlining a series of military campaigns waged by Julius Caesar. These wars lasted 8 years from 58-50BC.
Although the Gauls were as strong as the Romans, divisions between the tribes meant a coalition between Gaulish tribes – which eventually began to form – was less effective than the Roman war machine. Eventually, Rome conquered Gaul (present-day France and part of Belgium) in a decisive victory around 52BC.
What Time Period was Asterix and Obelix Comics Set In?
Roughly set about 40BC when Julius Caesar was in charge of many of the Roman armies.
Why Read Asterix and Obelix
Asterix and Obelix are engaging, educational books. They are great learning tools for teaching history and Latin.
We ought to always reach our children using books that engage them while simultaneously teaching them useful concepts such as behaviour, culture, and logic.
Charlotte Mason, a Classical educator, called books like these ‘living books‘. She said that, in order to foster a love of learning, we must avoid dry, uninteresting texts and educate using books that garner interest in a topic. And this is exactly what Goscinny and Uderzo’s books do with ancient history.
In addition to being an interesting book, reading Asterix and Obelix comics will whet the appetite so children want to know more about history. For example, by reading:
- Mission Cleopatra students learn about Egyptian culture and the tensions between Egypt and Rome at the time. It’s a great book for launching learning into an ancient Egyptian history study and
- Asterix and Obelix in Belgium students learn about another tribe whom Rome considered the strongest.
Asterix and Obelix comics also help children learn Latin by showing them bits of Latin throughout the books.
What Books are in the Series?
There are currently 38 books in the series (including Omnibus books). These are some of my favorites below:
- Asterix and the Mansion of the Gods
- Asterix the Gladiator
- Asterix in Spain
- Asterix and the Big Fight
- Asterix and the Cheiftan’s Sheild
(If you can’t choose, you can get the whole set here or an omnibus set which has a few titles in one book.)
The authors began publishing the books in 1960 and kept doing so until Goscinny died in 1977. For a while, there were no more books. But, Uderzo soon decided to give writing a go for himself and wrote 8 more books.
The most recent books are no longer written and illustrated by Uderzo, but by two others called Jean-Yves Ferri (writer) and Didier Conrad (illustrator).
The latest book was released in 2017 and is called Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter.
How Much Do the Asterix and Obelix Comics Cost?
There are many Asterix and Obelix cartoons making the series quite expensive to purchase as a whole set which includes 37 titles. Alternatively, you can buy them individually for around $10 each or in an omnibus that comes with three titles for about $20.
Given the price is so huge, homeschoolers may find it more cost-efficient to borrow these books from the local library.
Reading Asterix and Obelix cartoons is a must-do for every student, especially those who are being trained in Classical education. These books tell the story of the history of Rome and Gaul, whetting a student’s appetite for further study around this significant time period. It also encourages children to want to learn Latin so they’re able to understand the jokes in the books more often. There are many books to choose from – I’m sure you’ll find them all great reads!