Μηδίζω! The World of Achaemenid Hellas

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Daeres, Jan 10, 2015.

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  1. Threadmarks: Introduction and Raison d'etre

    Daeres Well-Known Member

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    Μηδίζω! THE WORLD OF ACHAEMENID HELLAS
    INTRODUCTION


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    Welcome, one and all, to my newest alternate history concept! It's one that I've been circling around and avoiding for a little while now, but one that I've been brought back to time and time again; a successful (however you interpret that word) conquest of the Greek mainland by the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In addition, I work best when I have a cloud of projects to move between, and this one is very different from my last two alternate history ideas. In other words, if by chance you have read either of my other timelines and worry this signals their abandonment, it does not.

    I'm far from the first person on the website to write a timeline about the Achaemenids successfully conquering Greece, that's been attempted multiple times before. But it's a concept that seems to beg for certain very cliched developments most times it's presented, and I'm very keen on demonstrating that there's a lot of interesting ideas to be explored in such a scenario that do not rely on such things. The Achaemenid state is also one that I'm closely familiar with on an academic level, and have a lot of access to primary source material for, so I don't feel like I'm going to fall into the trap of viewing the Achaemenids through the Greek lens.

    That brings me on to the main conceits of the timeline. This is going to be like my earlier alternate history, and primarily presented through 'discovered' material. Some will be ancient material, particularly from faux-ancient historical works, but some of this material will also have 'commentary' from a later author in the timeline's universe which calls some of the actual stated narrative into question. Some will be direct historical commentary on the period in question by later authors. This means that some of the updates will be presenting matters in a way that is not actually 100% accurate to the 'real' events as they happened in this timeline, and this is entirely deliberate. So whilst I am not writing this timeline from a Hellenic perspective, a sizeable number of the updates will be! Others will not. There is also a third genre of material involved in the timeline, but I do not want to state what this is ahead of time. It will distinguish itself the moment it's presented.

    There is another major conceit as well, which is regarding transliterations of Greek and also some of the translation- they will not be following the norms that the English language has developed around Greek history. This is partially to emphasise that this is not humans from our timeline speaking and discussing the history. But it's also a reminder that the English transliterations we use have a particular historical existence in their own right, and are not always the closest to the original Greek in form. The pattern will not be uniform, some demonyms or city names will be more like our own or even identical. Some Greek terms will remain untranslated, whereas other Greek terms will never be used.

    My hope is that these elements will not interfere with this being enjoyable to read, and possibly even add to the experience. A controlled dislocation.

    For those curious, Μηδίζω transliterates loosely as Medizo, and means 'I medize'.
     
  2. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend Gone Fishin'

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    You've caught my interest. I look forward to seeing what you do with this.
     
  3. Threadmarks: The Shape of Greece to Come

    Daeres Well-Known Member

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    Μηδίζω! THE WORLD OF ACHAEMENID HELLAS​
    CHAPTER 1:NIKAO! or AVAJANAM!​


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    EXTRACT FROM COMMENTARY ON THE XERXOU ANABASIS

    There exists two prevailing opinions about the matters of the Athenians that ensued. The first is that they were medising cowards, stout-hearted only when things were going their way and perfidious at the moment things turned otherwise. The second is that it was the Peloponnesians who failed the Athenians, by failing to recognise what a blow had been dealt to the morale of the citizens, and who trusted more to their Isthmian wall than to the arms of the Athenians. Thus, for some years afterwards, both the Athenians and Peloponnesians were of a tarnished reputation among the other Hellenes1. Regardless of these arguments, it is entirely without doubt that the Athenian decision came as a result of the defeat of Salamis, this cannot be argued against. Disheartened at defeat and at the deaths of many prominent citizens, they were moved to take the offer of peace extended by Mardonios. This thus sealed the course of the Thermopylaian phase of the war with the Persians2.

    But many Athenians could not stomach this arrangement, or bear to be part of a city which behaved in such a manner. Nor was this, as some other tellers of tales have said in error or malice, solely motivated by the poorer citizens being intimidated by the imminent revocation of their demokratic powers3. Some of the best among the Athenian community were those who rejected the peace with the Persians- Aiskhylos of Abdera, Sophokles son of Sephilos, Xanthippos son of Ariphron, Simonides of Keos, Phyrnikhos son of Polyphrasmon, and among those who fled were many children who would become great in later years. This also resulted in the division of the Athenian land and naval forces. Many of the men-at-arms were in the party resolved to leave, and the navy voted by trireme whether to leave or stay. This resulted in chaos for the remaining Athenians until it could be ascertained exactly who had left, for the exodos was conducted extremely abruptly. It was a good thing that the Athenians had already made peace with Mardonios, for once the exodos was complete they were no longer in any position to continue to resist the Persians. This, then, was the exodos of Athenians that would lead to the founding of Megathenai and many subsequent events, but that shall be dealt with in full later.

    Xerxes was extremely pleased at this turn of events. The task of admonishing the Athenians for their slights against the Akhaimenid dynasty had been, for the Great King, a legacy handed down to him from his mighty father, and this had at last been accomplished. He set a garrison in the city of Athens, but was otherwise minded to generous terms, leaving the city otherwise unmolested. Then came the matter of its manner of constitution. Xerxes was inclined to elevate one or other of the prominent citizens to the status of tyrannos, but Mardonios advised the Great King against such actions, correctly judging that the Athenians might again be excited to violence should their civic pride be humbled. Neither, at first, did they ask for land forces or triremes to aid them militarily. But the absence of these forces alongside the rest of those Hellenes opposed to the Persians was in itself a gain for the Persians, and so it was not generosity of spirit which stayed the hand of Xerxes, but the prudence of Mardonios4.

    The Peloponnesians reacted with alarm at this turn of events. Some of the Athenian ships had remained with the allied fleet, but after Salamis and the disappearance of most Athenian vessels the fleet was at greatly reduced strength. They feared that the Persians would imminently attack the Peloponnese by sea, bypassing the newly completed Isthmian defences. It was at this point that ambassadors were sent by Xerxes to the Lakedaimonians offering terms. The ambassadors told them that so long as they did not any longer take up arms against the Persians, Sparta would be left in peace, and their kings honoured as allies of the Great King. However, whilst this offer was being made, secret embassies were made to the Argeioi inducing them to attack the Lakedaimonians, who had been a thorn in their side for a considerable length of time. The Lakedaimonians refused the offer, citing that their forces were still intact along with the remaining allies, and that so long as Persian arms could not be carried on land it did not matter that they possessed mastery of the sea. But the Argeioi were more easily swayed to the Persian point of view, and so became enthusiastic at the notion of humbling their ancient foes. They then assembled an expedition of as many men-at-arms as expediency allowed, under the command of Alektor son of Meltas, and endeavoured to set out after winter. The Persian army wintered in Thessalia and Boiotia.

    This year, the Capuans elected as medix toutis Dekis Kalaviis5 son of Ofilis Calaviis, and the Athenians were required by special lot to appoint a new arkhon due to the departure of Xanthippos. The exiled Athenians continued to treat Xanthippos as their appointed Arkhon.

    When Xerxes and his army had returned to Thebes, the Peloponnesians and the other remaining allies had gathered with renewed fear. There was suspicion of the Argeioi, who continued to remain neutral. But there was suspicion too of the Lakedaimonians, for after the Athenians had made peace the smaller cities had become worried that the largest allies might similarly surrender to the Persians, or make alliances with them. But Leotykhidas the Lakedaimonian reassured them that Persian overtures would not work, and that the Isthmian wall would be held by Lakedaimonian arms. This calmed the nerves of many of the smaller confederates. The Korinthioi, now providing the largest contingent of ships, similarly reaffirmed their commitment to fighting the Persians6. But it was also resolved that new embassies would be sent to the Syrakusans, in the hope that their mighty fleet and arms could be brought to the rescue of matters in Hellas7.

    Notes

    1- This is the first antique source on the Helleno-Persian wars which mentions the idea that Peloponnesians were equally infamous among the Hellenes as the Athenians were, following the Athenian peace with King Xerxes. Surely, if the Peloponnesians were infamous among the Hellenes, it was for subsequent catastrophes? But it is also true that the ire for the Athenians burned so hot among other Hellenes that it clouds the judgement of many chroniclers in the subsequent era post-conquest. Herodotos of Halikarnassos being one of the more kindly disposed towards the Athenian decision, he nonetheless lavishes much of his attention and ire upon their cowardice, and is also primarily interested in the subsequent doings of the exiled Athenians. It is possible that, more removed from events as he was, Aristonikos consulted the reports of his ancient peers more carefully and objectively.

    2- This schema of dividing the war is a novelty of this work, and accordingly later establishes the later divisions of ‘Makedonian’, ‘Kretan’, and ‘Boiotian’. Thus at one stroke it is demonstrated the debt of scholarship to the mind and quill of Aristonikos.

    3- Here Aristonikos is actively seeking to correct a trend among the chronicles of his peers; the Kimonist school, being inclined to the oligarkic and seeking to rehabilitate the aristokratia of Athens, had sought to blame the division of the city squarely on the greedy of the poor and needy. But as Aristonikos indicates, this is a false reasoning- many great Athenians, or Athenians soon to become great, were party to the leaving of Athens, including the city’s own eponymos arkhon!

    4- The notion of Xerxes as King being imprudent, contrasted to Mardonios as satrap being impatient but wise, is present in all antique sources on these times. But the theme, I deem, is more subtly woven in Herodotos and other early sources, and becomes more bastardised and hyberbolic as time passes and the tale is retold. Nor am I aware of what the west Hellenic chroniclers’ source for this characterisation is exactly. But whilst in Herodotos Xerxes is presented as a wise and good king who suffers under a command of heaven to finish the tasks of his father, later it is purely portrayed as Xerxes being the unworthy offspring of his illustrious father, as well as less able than Mardonios.

    5- A mistake? The prainomina of this family is well explored, no other Dekis of this family in its unmixed days is known.

    6- Tis odd indeed that the Korinthioi be so enumerated here, until one realises that the author seeks to foreshadow their importance in events soon afterwards. Otherwise it would seem perverse to mention the Korinthioi and not other major allies, such as the Thespians and Plataieis. But Aristonikos has not forgotten these important peoples, and their seminal roles shall be remembered later.

    7- Note well the difference from Herodotos, compare ‘rescue matters in Hellas’ to ‘save the Hellenes’.


    EXTRACT FROM THE MILITARY OF THE AMAVADATID KINGDOM- ADMINISTRATION

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    A document from the Theban satrapal archives, dating to 381 BCE.​
    The foremost quality of the Amavadatid military machine was its formidable logistics, and the root of that lay in the Akhaimenid era that preceded it. One cannot understand the former without the latter.

    Transforming the lands of the Hellenes, with their many and diverse states and peoples, into something capable of being harnessed in a single system of management was no easy feat, and should be understood as a difficult process. Traditionally, west Hellenic sources pointed to Mardonios as the principal person responsible for the initial taming of Greece. The reality is that this must equally have been the responsibility of the numerous governors and administrators who were brought into Hellas in the initial post-conquest period. The situation as presented in this period is patchwork, resembling less a system then a web with Thebes at its heart. Thebes, having been amenable to an alliance with the Akhaimenids, and also the winter capital of Xerxes expedition on multiple occasions, had established itself as the semi-permanent centre of Akhaimenid control of Hellas before Xerxes even returned home. But the growth of a Persian bureaucracy in Thebes was also seen as a method of repressing the ability of the Thebans to act independently, and the presence of a major Persian fortress kept them from thoughts of insurrection. Arrangements with other Hellenic states were very different- in Makedon, Alexandros continued to reign as king, albeit as the vassal of Xerxes. Some specific regions, like Lakedaimonia,had an actual Persian (or at least non-Hellenic) governor. But other cities or regions were governed by Hellenes. Some were led by a pet tyrant or a pet oligarchy. But in others, the Persians felt secure enough to only appoint an observer, or an extra official who served as the voice of Persia. In the case of Athens, for example, a 10th arkhon was created. This patchwork arrangement was not always successful, and was stressed multiple occasions in the initial post-conquest period.

    Then the synoikism of the Hellenes began, as a slow but firm acculturation. Roads were expanded and waystations were built upon them. Cities that rebelled were either punished harshly upon their continued resistance, or treated mercifully upon their capitulation, thus slowly reducing the array of forces that could be used to threaten Persian control. In addition, the boundaries of Persian control were expanded to deal with emergent threats. The Korkyran League, Taras, and the Epeirotes were all brought under Persian control, at least for a time. In addition, the initial xenophobia directed at the Persians began to ease, and vengeful attitudes from the Hellenic exiles began to reduce. Part of the populations who had left due to Persian control returned back to their home cities. This was, however, not without consequences. Not only did this increase the potency of a number of the areas under Persian control, but part of why comfort had increased was the adaptation of local Akhaimenid officials to Hellenic mores and customs. When Amavadata first declared independence by attacking the client state of Makedon, he did so with enormous resources at his disposal. The process of taming the Hellenes had resulted in the satrap of that area possessing a huge ability to resist and rebel from his Akhaimenid overlord, especially as Hellas was on the very margins of the Akhaimenid Empire in the first instance. The roads, fortresses, and other supply stations meant that he was able to muster his rebellious forces extremely quickly, and also they were able to attack outside of the traditional campaign season in Hellas. In its years of strength, this ability to quickly and efficiently mobilise would characterise he Amavadatid state that he created with his actions, carrying Perso-Hellenic arms across the Mediterranean.

    Neither did the Amavadatids rest on their laurels; ruler after ruler expanded the naval forces at the kingdom’s disposal, whilst also continuing to maintain the kingdom’s roads and infrastructure. New and enlarged ports were built at key locations, most famously at Korinthos which transitioned into being a secondary capital of the Amavadatid kingdom. But the Amavadatids were also able to create cultural capital; their satrapal predecessors had managed to maintain certain key Hellenic international institutions like Delphoi, Dodona, the pan-Hellenic games, and the Dionysia festival in Athens. How does this relate to logistics, it might be asked. It is relevant because this attracted Hellenes from outside the Kingdom into its borders, as visitors, traders, or settlers. It allowed the Amavadatids to build upon this, and establish genuinely friendly relationships with Greek communities in Sikelia, Kyrenaike, and elsewhere. This resulted in allied forces acting in concert with the Amavadatids without requiring the increasingly huge bureaucracy to involve itself. At all stages of its history, bar solely its ignominious final death throes, the Amavadatids were thus able to consistently able to punch above their weight in conflicts with other large powers, most infamously in the invasion of Akhaimenid Anatole.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
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  4. Basileus Giorgios Augustus and Autocrat

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    Thoroughly looking forward to this.
     
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  5. Xenophonte Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non præstat. Gone Fishin'

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    Interesting and nice new perspective in the beginning of this TL.
    I'll be looking forward.
     
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  6. Bartholome de Fonte Melaninly challenged

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    I'm excited to see where you take this Daeres!
     
  7. SlyDessertFox Literally Natalie Portman Donor

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    Your timelines are always top notch. This is a really interesting take on a Persian conquest of Greece. Definitely following this.
     
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  8. Grouchio Well-Known Member

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    Where you write I shall definitely follow. Subscribed.

    Now who's Amavadata, and when was his rebellion?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
  9. Kaisermuffin Out of Work Rain God

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    Interesting thus far, my only question being the second dynasty - Amavadatids vs Akhaimenids?
     
  10. firesoul Unholly terror

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    subscribed
     
  11. Harald Sigurdson II Anachronistically usernamed

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    Subscribed too.
     
  12. Monopolist Member

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    Definitely following
     
  13. Basileus Giorgios Augustus and Autocrat

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    Interesting indeed. I think the take on Athenian democracy surviving mostly intact is well considered, as is the general structure of Iranian rule being very "light touch" on Greece.

    I'm a little surprised that there would be Persian interest in subduing the Epirotes, and even more that Taras would be a target: surely the logistical problems in mounting an Italian expedition would be formidable? Or is Taras brought into the fold by means of a peaceful alliance and indirect Persian support and subsidy? I presume you'll go into this in more detail another time.

    Will we get to hear more about the rest of the Hellenic world? There are, after all, hundreds of Hellenic poleis well beyond the reach of Persian control, in Italy, Sicily, and on the coasts of Gaul and Iberia: what of them?

    Secondly, a question on linguistics. This Amavatid kingdom seems to be almost a reverse Diadoachi state: an Iranian kingdom ruling over an ethnically Greek population. This being so, do the Amavatids govern in Old Persian, Greek, or something else entirely? And what are the boundaries of the Amavatid kingdom? Are we essentially talking modern OTL Greece, or does it encompass the islands, western Anatolia, Thrace etc?

    Final question: what of Rome in this scenario? I appreciate that the early history of the city in the fifth century BC is so obscure as to be almost worthless, but do you have plans for the Republic? Or will it sink without trace like so many other city states of the period?

    Keep the good stuff coming! :)
     
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  14. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    Interesting.
     
  15. Daeres Well-Known Member

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    To everyone's well-wishes and interest, a very sincerely intended thank you. I'm always a little heart-in-mouth when I start a timeline...

    As for some more specific bits!

    There is not a lot I wish to reveal about Amavadata at this stage, but there is some stuff to be shared which may interest you/answer part of your questions. Amavadata is an Old Iranian name, and according to my sourcebooks means 'Created by the mighty one'. He is not based on a real Persian, but the name is a real one found in Achaemenid material- an actual Amavadata was a 'supervisor' in Achaemenid Bactria.

    As for the date of his rebellion, that much has been implied already, but more will become clear about these events. Fret ye not, I am only withholding information in the interest of making the timeline itself more interesting than my additional commentary.

    I can only answer your last question, and with a simple 'yes'. This is not meant to be brusque or insulting at all! It's simply that this is very much something that is going to have a lot more detail exposed in later updates...

    There are indeed hundreds of Hellenic poleis outside of Hellas... I shall only say that I spent many hours leafing through An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis and its listed histories of at least 1035 separate poleis.

    I feel like I must avoid the subject with the Amavadatids in the interest of future updates, but I will happily talk about Achaemenid Hellas. Aramaic-using scribes are imported into key locations for the purposes of the official Achaemenid bureaucracy in the wake of the Greek matter being 'settled', but this does not displace the use of Greek as an administrative language. Nor is this a situation in which enormous numbers of Persian-speakers 'colonise' Hellas.

    As for the boundaries, it includes more than OTL Greece. Some of its potential possessions surplus to Greece have already been hinted at in the text, but I want to wait before revealing the Kingdom's 'space' that it inhabits territory-wise. There is a pre-prepared map that shows the influence and control of the Amavadatid state at its absolute height, though, which will be deployed in a later update!

    Roma has not been forgotten.

    I apologise that I had to be so imprecise or evasive with many answers here, but suffice to say you raised several questions with direct implications for the timeline!
     
  16. Basileus Giorgios Augustus and Autocrat

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    Well researched TLs are best TLs. No worries for your relatively brief answers: I'm eagerly awaiting more. :)

    One quick request: is there any chance you could make the footnotes a bit larger and more noticeable? I found it quite difficult to see them when reading the text.
     
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  17. Daeres Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to! But I can't at present find a way of getting superscript to work on here, which I really wish was available. If I can find another way of making them more visible without also looking ridiculous, then I'll use that. I am sorry that they might still be difficult to see at the moment, that was something I worried about.
     
  18. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    Please continue.
     
  19. Seleucus Queer lesbian trans scientist

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    I'm wondering a bit about the inclusion of Taras (a city in Magna Graecia, in the Italian boot) within the Achaemenid rule. It's a bit difficult for me to see them being able to extend their reach that far that fast (and conversely, if Taras is included, why not also e.g. Rhegium, Kroton, Thurii, etc. as well as Sicily?)
     
  20. ThatOneGuy Defeater of America!

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