rome ii

“A Celtic woman is often the equal of any Roman man in hand-to-hand combat. She is as beautiful as she is strong. Her body is comely but fierce. The physiques of our Roman women pale in comparison.” —Unidentified Roman Soldier

I love the height variations in Total War: Rome II. Iceni (I think?) swordswoman versus Roman Auxiliary. (Screencap taken from game play.)

Warship Battering-Rams

In 2004, underwater archaeologists began making an extraordinary discovery. Eleven warship rams, helmets and other debris were recovered from the seabed in exactly the area where historians speculated that the Battle of the Egadi Islands between Rome and Carthage had taken place.

The Carthaginians had the best navy in the Mediterranean, and the Romans were expert fighters on land but not at sea. But on 10 March 241 BC the Roman fleet successfully ambushed a convoy of Carthaginian ships near Sicily. Caught by surprise, 50 Carthaginian ships were sunk and 70 were captured while the Romans lost just 30. This unexpected victory changed history and won Sicily for Rome.

See three of the enormous recovered warship rams, used on that day, as well as a video re-enactment of the battle, in our Storms, War and Shipwrecks exhibition. 

Creative Assembly, makers of the Total War games, created the realistic video re-enactment of the Battle of the Egadi Islands in the exhibition using the Total War game engine and art. Find out more about the battle, and see some of the re-enactment, in their short video below:


the children and wards of caesar augustus

over the course of his life, emperor augustus took many children into his care. some were slaves or the children of defeated monarchs while others were members of his own family, as he failed to produce a male heir to succeed him. many of them stayed with his sister octavia, and among them were queen cleopatra selene and her future husband king juba, as well as the future emperor tiberius.

who you should fight: Versailles historical edition

Louis XIV: who do you think you are? William of Orange?? Nah buddy best case scenario here is you both end up dead ok unless you’re really that eager to beat up that ugly lil moustache there is literally nothing you can gain from this scenario

Philippe D’Orleans: Even as a child boi wasn’t afraid to give people a good smack but also like??? Why would you want to hasn’t he been through enough

Madame de Maintenon: might be satisfying, or you might end up smacked down by God himself. Who knows.

Comte de Guiche: please, please fight him. Stealing his boyfriend’s wife and beating him up at parties?? someone’s gotta get revenge for that. Ruin his pretty lil face.

Liselotte: try it m8 if she doesn’t destroy you i will

Chezzles McFezzles: the brave warrior? the war hero? One of the biggest snakes at court?? There’s no point trying tbh but i’m sure there’s some kind of anti-Chev support club at court you can join

Charles II: y e s. 


Turnbull Early-Printed Fragments 1: Letter from the Pope

Following on from our most recent post about unidentified early-printed leaves held by the Alexander Turnbull Library here is the first - and what may turn out to be our most interesting - identification.

This bifolium is part of a lengthy letter written by Pope Pius II (1405-1464) and addressed to the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II better known as Mehmed the Conqueror (1432-1481). 

In what is known as his ‘Epistola ad Mahumetem’, Pius sought to convert the sultan to Christianity by attempting to convince Mehmed that Christ was the redeemer. Although it is agreed the letter was never sent, scholarly opinion remains divided over Pius’s true motivation for writing it.

The letter was originally written in 1461 and first published in Cologne in 1464. The Turnbull fragment comes from an edition printed in Rome by Stephan Plannck around 1490. Plannck is perhaps best known as the printer of the 1493 Latin translation of Christopher Columbus’s letter describing his discoveries in the New World the previous year.

This structure is also known as “Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II” (“National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II)  to honor Victor Emmanuel, who was the first king of a unified Italy. 

Altar of the Fatherland, Rome, Italy 


Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II—Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero—that he left his first transformative mark on cinema. With their stripped-down aesthetic, largely nonprofessional casts, and unorthodox approaches to storytelling, these intensely emotional works were international sensations and came to define the neorealist movement. Shot in battle-ravaged Italy and Germany, these three films are some of our most lasting, humane documents of devastated postwar Europe, containing universal images of both tragedy and hope.