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In Asterix and the Gauls, Caesar says that he will send Crismus Bonus to Outer Mongolia, to deal with a "Barbarian Rebellion".

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As far as I know, Outer Mongolia is quite far away from the borders of the Roman Empire at the time? The Romans might have have had some trade with the Far East, but certainly they would not be concerned with rebellions, or be sending troops there?

Or is that the point? Sending Crismus Bonus and his men to Mongolia means he will be killed by the nomads there? Or is Ceasar just joking?

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    Outer Mongolia is slang for "very far away". Think Timbuktu.
    – Valorum
    Jan 25 at 13:43
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    @Valorum that is actually the answer in this case, it probably comes under the cultural translation and may be different in French
    – Separatrix
    Jan 25 at 14:00
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    There is a legend of a powerful emperor ordering a legion to march east to the end of the world. That might also have inspired Caesar's order here. Jan 25 at 14:52
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    "Mongolie inférieure" (Lower Mongolia) in French, according to Wikipedia.
    – Taladris
    Jan 26 at 8:11
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    @Taladris Can confirm that it's indeed what Caesar says in the the original French dialogue. Jan 26 at 12:15

2 Answers 2

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This question probably belongs somewhere like Literature rather than here as there isn't strictly a canon response.

The translations of Asterix are highly localised, even the character names are language specific rather than being translations.

In terms of the plot, what you're looking at here is a person whose loyalty to Caesar has been called into question. Caesar's response to this is to post him and his men (who are likely loyal to him rather than Caesar) to Outer Mongolia.

Outer Mongolia had a specific meaning in English culture at the point in time when these comics were being translated. It was considered to be the most remote and hardest to reach place in the world. You may find in other languages that the actual location of the posting is different.

Ultimately Caesar is disposing of a problematic person by sending him as far away as possible using an idiomatic location rather than a historically accurate one.

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    A very good user name for anwering questions about Asterix. Do you by any chance have a friend called Dynamix? Jan 25 at 20:40
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    This calls to mind Andrew Jackson's remarks on appointing his Ambassador to Russia: "If we kept a ministry at the North Pole, I would have sent him there."
    – Cadence
    Jan 25 at 23:06
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    @IanThompson, 'tis true, Asterix had a considerable impact on my online naming conventions, though I tend to use names on the theme rather than the actual names from the comics.
    – Separatrix
    Jan 26 at 8:15
  • Relevant TVTropes article: Reassigned To Antarctica.
    – Mark
    Jan 26 at 23:41
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Might be worth pointing out that these jokes about Outer Mongolia are somewhat based on actual historical events: Vyacheslav Molotov was the Soviet foreign minister from 1939 to 1949 under Stalin and again from 1953 to 1956. He was made the Soviet ambassador in Mongolia after Khrushchev came to power and served there from 1957 to 1960 or so.

If this question is about the first Asterix comic, Molotov's "appointment" would have been quite current affairs (Asterix the Gaul first being published around 1960).


According to the comments below the OP, the French version has "Mongolie inférieure" which looks like a misspelling for "Mongolie intérieure", i.e. Inner Mongolia, which is part of China. This makes the connection to Molotov somewhat less likely. On the other hand Inner Mongolia and Mongolia get mixed up quite frequently, and this may just be another example of this confusion.

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    We could check this if someone has access to the French version of the comic, and see if it also talks about Outer mongolia. Jan 26 at 19:46
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    @DJClayworth just realized that the French version probably mentions Inner Mongolia.
    – Jan
    Jan 26 at 20:14
  • Mongolia is an immediate neighbour to Russia, so it has different implication there. Low status perhaps, but not so far away and an important buffer between Russia and China over which both are/were likely trying to exert influence.
    – Separatrix
    Jan 27 at 8:19
  • @Separatrix: A provincial backwater with a capital that at that time had 50000 or 100000 inhabitants and an annual average temperature of -4°C. A country that is rather uninteresting if you are not into animal husbandry. Great power competition about as interesting as in Belarus today, but without the civil unrest because people actually prefer Russia over China. 3000 or 4000 km away from Moscow. Of course Mongolia has a lot of good sides too, esp. if one is into outdoor stuff. But it sure is not for everybody.
    – Jan
    Jan 27 at 9:12
  • In short, zhis was probably one of the less attractive diplomatic posts available, especially since most African countries were not independent yet (and most of these countries have at least beaches). It's also a post were it was especially hard to defect.
    – Jan
    Jan 27 at 9:18

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