Life Of Brian

MontyPython delivers the life and death of Brian of Nazareth, a typical Galilean with no similarities to Jesus of Nazareth other than, er, being visited by wise men from the east at his birth (before they realize their mistake and move on to the stable next door), being thought to be the Messiah by large crowds of devoted followers, and being crucified by the Romans.

Centurion: What's this then? "Romanes Eunt Domus"? People called Romanes, they go to the house?

Brian (defiantly): It says "Romans go home."

Centurion: No it doesn't. What's Latin for Romans? (slaps him) Come on...come on...

Brian: Romanus!

Centurion: Goes like?

Brian: Er...annus.

Centurion (tweaking Brian's hair): Vocative plural of annus is...?

Brian: Anni.

Centurion (crossing out Es and substituting I): Romani...

In my experience, this scene is a good yardstick of the difference between how Americans and English understand MontyPython's comedy. Americans seem to understand it as a joke about school and teachers. English understand it as a joke about the class system.

Sorry, but I'm just not getting the class system angle. Is the ability to use proper grammar a stereotype of class in Britain?

Learning LatinLanguage is largely restricted to public (i.e. private) schools now American says Bwah?

I'm British, and i think it's a school joke. But then, i did Latin despite going to a state school ... -- TomAnderson

The sketch is multilayered: it is both a school joke and a joke about the class system. The Centurion has an upper-class British accent, while the Jews have working class British accents, reflecting the upper-class minority ruling over the working class masses. In Britain at the time, a classical education was seen as the mark of a gentleman: state-funded schools rarely teach latin while in public (privately funded) schools it is often compulsory to take at least a few years of latin. Finally, the Centurion acts as a complete idiot, making the Jewish partisans paint anti-Roman slogans all over the walls before finally realizing what they have done. The Python team often portrayed the upper classes, and especially the aristocratic officer class, as idiotic twits: c.f. the Upper Class Twit Of the Year sketch, and many other sketches in Python, Sorry I'll Read That Again, That Was the Week That Was, The Frost Report, etc. -- Anonymous?

I think it is a joke about the LatinLanguage itself!!! -- JimmyCerra

In Pompeii some Latin graffiti were preserved. As you would expect, their spelling and grammar were no better than in modern graffiti (in fact some of the misspellings were instructive for deducing how Latin was pronounced). I think part of the joke is that people forget that Latin was not always learnt perfectly, even in Roman times.

A bit of a different topic here: Notice the accents the (American made) Charlton Heston Ben Hur movie. The Jews and Arabs have American, Israeli, etc. accents, and the Romans speak upper-class British.

My favourite piece of graffiti is some original Latin "B Muir Stupedos est" carved over Egyptian hieroglyphics on the wall of a temple.... (Can't remember which temple. Will find out & edit in) I thought it showed a fantastic glimpse of Roman personality similar to the Python movie. You know some ancient Roman chiseling away defacing text that would have been even ancient to them. -- Penni

"Nobody is to stone anybody, until I blow this whistle. Even - and I want to make this absolutely clear - even if they do say Jeho--OW!!!"

Brian: Look. You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!

Crowd (together): Yes, we're all individuals!

Brian: You're all different!

Crowd (together): Yes, we are all different!

Individual: I'm not.

Always look on the bright side of life...

Gotta love the stoning sequence. Men playing women dressed as men.

My favourite MontyPythonQuote? is from the LifeOfBrian: "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"

Blessed are the cheesemakers.

I like the Judean People's Front, the People's Front of Judea, and the Popular Party (he's over there).

CategoryMovie, CategoryOffTopic

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