Finally catching up on this TL! Wonderfully detailed, truly alternate history in the sense it's hitting a lot of OTL's beats with a twist (looking at that Argead Empire). Alexander seems as inexorable as ever, though I'm skeptical of the Macedonian capacity to actually conquer Carthage... Seems difficult logistically (can't recall the Macedonians ever being that impressive at sea), especially with a strong and independent Egypt dominating its corner of the Mediterranean so close to the Argead heartlands. Seems like Macedon and Egypt are bound to come to blows at some point.

I'm curious about the Greek influence on Egyptian art and architecture mentioned in earlier updates. So far the 30th Dynasty seems very keen on maintaining pharaonic traditions, but being so mutually bound up with the Greek world influences will inevitably go both ways. Is Egyptian art going in an almost Ptolemaic direction despite the leadership of competent native rulers and their support for traditional institutions?
 
Finally catching up on this TL! Wonderfully detailed, truly alternate history in the sense it's hitting a lot of OTL's beats with a twist
Thanks, glad to hear you enjoy the TL! Always great to have another reader, espcially if its the writer of the site's (IMO) best Egypt TL.
Alexander seems as inexorable as ever, though I'm skeptical of the Macedonian capacity to actually conquer Carthage... Seems difficult logistically (can't recall the Macedonians ever being that impressive at sea), especially with a strong and independent Egypt dominating its corner of the Mediterranean so close to the Argead heartlands.
OTL the Diadochi had pretty impressive fleets, but those were probably manned by Greeks, Phoenicians and Egyptians. ITTL the Macedonian fleet is mostly supplied by the Hellenic League and, while on Sicily, by Alexander's local allies. If he wants to conquer Carthage he will need to beat their navy and successfully cross over to Africa. Off course that's not impossible, Agathokles managed it OTL, but whether it happens or not is still up in the air.
Seems like Macedon and Egypt are bound to come to blows at some point.
Yeah despite the recent decline of Egyptian power, the defection of Tyre and the rest of Phoenicia and the succession struggle Egypt will still be seen as a threat by the Macedonians, and conflict is likely. As the Argead dynasty starts to see itself as the rightful successors of the Achaemenids war becomes even more likely, since they'll see Egypt just as a lost satrapy.
I'm curious about the Greek influence on Egyptian art and architecture mentioned in earlier updates. So far the 30th Dynasty seems very keen on maintaining pharaonic traditions, but being so mutually bound up with the Greek world influences will inevitably go both ways. Is Egyptian art going in an almost Ptolemaic direction despite the leadership of competent native rulers and their support for traditional institutions?
It was more or less my idea that, at least for now, Greek influence on art and architecture would be more gradual than OTL. Many Greeks already live in Egypt, and have since at least the days of Psamtik I, but as you say they aren't in charge (yet). The 30th Dynasty does indeed promote more traditional, or what they perceive as traditional, art styles, but they aren't actively opposing Greek influence. Like OTL their influence will be most visible in the Delta, you won't be finding any Greek style statues in Karnak for example.
 
Some thoughts I have:
I imagine it must have been very costly to the Nanda to repel Alexander's invasion. While Chandragupta is dead, there might be figures like him to seek to liberate the Indus Valley and Punjab from the "Yavanas". In particular I see tension developing between Dhana Nanda and Shriyaka. And the Nanda uparaja is quite unpopular, low-caste, and having suffered damages from Alexander's invasion. Could we see Shriyaka pulling off a Pushyamitra Shunga-style coup?

If the Carthaginians manage to survive Alexander's invasion, what changes to their society would result? In particular, could Bomilcar or an ATL analogue succeed ITTL in restoring the monarchy? In addition, if Carthage is sacked, it might fragment the Punic heartland for a little while, as the Libyo-Phoenician townships and cities like Utica take their chance. But in the long run I see this beneficial for the Carthaginians. Fundamental changes to their society, government, and army would likely occur.

The glory days of the 30th dynasty are long gone, but Bakhenhaur is doing a good job. The 30th dynasty has truly left their mark on Egypt and restored order and stability, which unfortunately is in jeopardy right now. However, I'm curious why you decided to leave a strong, surviving, Argead Empire? It would be easier for Egypt to survive if it wasn't being surrounded from three sides and simply had to deal with a bunch of self-proclaimed strongmen hacking at each other. But it's your TL.

IOTL Alexander's cultural fusion programs didn't really took off. The Seleucids IOTL made some attempts, and they did incorporate elements of Persian culture, but they would not go to the same extent as Alexander. If Alexander does live long, his cultural fusion programs might really take off.

Alexander has defeated the Saka at Cyropolis, but this isn't the last time I expect to see them. I forsee that they would eventually become a major problem for the Argeads to deal with, along with their Scythian cousins.

The Celtic invasions are forthcoming, and Alexander may not live to see them. I have no idea when he would die, so he should be able to see off the 310 BC migration. Maybe he offers them land in Persia or even India. But it is the far larger migration of 280 BC that is the much greater threat.

The philosophical aspects would be absolutely fascinating to see.
 
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22. The Argead-Carthaginian War, part 2
21. The Argead-Carthaginian War, part 2

Alexander had learned the painful lesson that despite the size of his kingdom and army, the entire world could not be his. While he probably already knew this on the banks of the Ganges, he must truly have realized it while on Sicily.

- Excerpt from The lives of the Great Kings of Asia by Hermocles of Brentesion

Abdmelqart, son of Gersakun, elected by the Assembly of Carthage to lead its armies against Agathokles and Alexander, was a man whose family’s reputation was mixed to say the least. He was the grandson of Hanno, who during his lifetime was called ‘the Great’ for his exploits. In the 370’s BCE Carthage had been weakened by the outbreak of a severe epidemic, which was used by the Libyans [1] as an opportunity to rebel. It was Hanno who was then elected general to deal with the uprising, and was very successful, he not only managed to suppress the rebels he also expanded Carthage’s domain further into Libya. In 368 he was again elected general, to deal with the war against the aging Dionysios I, the greatest of Syracusan tyrants. Once again he was successful, bringing the war to an end in 365 when he completely surprised the Greek fleet at Drepana, towing away a large part of it back to Carthage in victory. Peace was signed not long after. His success was not limited to the battlefield but also spread to the political arena, where he became one of the foremost citizens of the Republic. His fiercest rival was Eshmunyaton, whose reputation and renown was based not on his performance on the battlefield but on his wealth and many connections among the Carthaginian aristocracy. In the aftermath of the war against Dionysios Hanno revealed to the shocked Adirim and the Carthaginian people that Eshmunyaton, foremost citizen of the Republic, was in fact nothing but a traitor. Letters had been intercepted that proved that Eshmunyaton had been conspiring with Dionysios to bring Carthage to ruin. Eshmunyaton was quickly brought to justice, crucified at the city’s agora as a grim warning to all would-be tyrants. In their panic the Adirim even banned the study and use of the Greek language, although this ban was quickly rescinded due to it being impractical.

Hanno thus stood at the peak of Carthaginian society and dominated its politics. His success however attracted jealousy, and his arrogance made many among the Adirim turn against him, especially after he and his supporters attempted to monopolise the suffeteship [2] and other high offices. Several of his political opponents were, like Eshmunyaton, suddenly persecuted and convicted. Later Greek sources mention that Hanno had a pet lion which he paraded around the city and that he trained some birds to chant: ‘Hanno is a god’, although much to his chagrin when they were set free they resumed chirping. Doubtlessly exaggerated as these stories are, they do show what the man’s reputation was. His fame even spread to Greece itself, where Aristotle mentions him as ‘a great man with the capacity to be still greater’. Hanno however was not content with just being the most prominent citizen of Carthage, and in 350 he plotted to make himself tyrant. The Adirim would attend a banquet in honour of his daughter’s marriage, but word spread that Hanno planned to poison them and then seize power. Due to his prominence and power he could not be prosecuted, but the Adirim bypassed this by temporarily banning public feasts, and thus cancelling the banquet. Undeterred in his quest for power, he incited a slave revolt, but this largely failed. He fortified his country villa with his supporters and some slaves but they were quickly defeated, Hanno was brought to Carthage, publicly mutilated and crucified. His son Gersakun was send into exile.

In the wake of Hanno’s death no figure arose to dominate Carthaginian politics like he and Eshmunyaton had done. Several years later internal conflict wrecked several of the Sicilian Greek states, and the new Carthaginian government intervened, seeking to expand its dominion over the island. Hanno’s victorious opponents perhaps needed a military victory in order to solidify their position, and they saw an opportunity on Sicily. One of them, Mago, was elected general and send to Sicily, but suffered a crushing defeat. Unable to face the judgement of the Council of 104 he committed suicide, after which his vengeful compatriots crucified his corpse. His successors were even less successful. The catastrophic defeat at the river Krimisos at the hands of Timoleon in 341, where 3000 citizen troops were killed, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Unrest broke out, and the people called out for a new strong leader to save the city. Despite Hanno’s disgrace and execution those who had supported him had not been purged, by no means had his faction been uprooted. Utilising the crisis, they called for Gersakun to be recalled from his exile, which eventually happened. Upon his return to the city Gersakun was presented with his family’s enemies in chains, and in an almost pharaonic gesture he had them lie on the ground while he put his feet on their necks, but afterwards he pardoned them all, showing that his purpose in Carthage was not fighting old feuds. With his citizenship restored he was elected both suffete and general, and in Spring 340 he sailed to Sicily, where he joined up with the survivors of the disaster at Krimisos. Timoleon had returned to Syracuse to fight a civil war against the would-be tyrant Hiketas, and thus was eager for peace. The Greek cities were declared to be free, which meant that Carthage would lose direct control over Herakleia Minoa and Selinous, but those were the only losses they would suffer. Gersakun restored order and confirmed the division of Sicily in a Greek east and a Phoenician west, and the treaty he signed was not broken until Agathokles’ seizure of Messana. Gersakun spend the rest of his life as one of Carthage’s leading citizens, who through his moderation and graciousness had prevented the city descending the city into civil strife, who had made peace abroad and restored his family to prominence. It is telling that his descendants are known as the Gersakunids and not the Hannonids.

Abdmelqart thus had a significant legacy to live up to, and successfully defending Carthage against Alexander would perhaps be enough to wipe away the shame of his grandfather’s coup attempt. For several months Alexander had tried to best the imposing walls of Lilybaion, but it all amounted to nothing. Attack after attack was launched, but despite their martial prowess the Macedonians could not crack the defences. The defeat at Gela also meant that the countryside was once again terrorized by marauding Numidians, who also intercepted several supply convoys who were underway from Syracuse to the siege lines around Lilybaion. In response Alexander dispatched his cavalry back to Syracuse, to counter the threat of the Numidians. In July 317 Alexander himself also departed Lilybaion, with his elite forces he now assaulted the mountaintop fortress at Eryx, just north of Lilybaion. From Eryx the Carthaginians had harassed the Argead forces at Lilybaion continuously, something Alexander was now determined to end. With his trademark speed Alexander surprised the garrison at Eryx, which was undermanned because many of the troops were foraging or raiding the Macedonians at Lilybaion. Seeing that his enemy was scrambling to organise a defence Alexander immediately had his siege ladders brought to the front and quickly placed them at the walls. Alexander was impatient with his soldiers, who were not eager to scale the walls. Alexander scolded them, dismounted his horse and quickly scaled the ladder himself. Not many Carthaginians had manned the wall yet, but Alexander still stood alone against several of them. Ashamed that they had shown cowardice in front of their king now the royal bodyguard came scrambling up the ladders. Alexander had faced off against several Carthaginians, but apart from some superficial slash wounds he was not hurt. The Macedonians now quickly overwhelmed the soldiers on the wall and opened up the nearby gate, allowing the rest of the army to enter the fortress.

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Alexander on the walls of Eryx

The thorough sack of Eryx and the subsequent defeat of the still operating Carthaginian forces in Western Sicily was a welcome victory for Alexander, who resented being bogged down at Lilybaion. With the fall of Eryx now he also quickly captured the city of Drepana, reducing the Carthaginian presence to just Lilybaion, Gela and Messana. The Carthaginians that had survived his assaults were brought to the siege lines near Lilybaion, where they were crucified in full view of the defenders. And more good news arrived in July 317, when Ptolemaios and a 10000 strong reinforcement force arrived at Syracuse. Ptolemaios then proceeded to do what Philotas had failed at and managed to both evict the Numidian raiders and afterwards captured Gela. Afterwards he joined up with Alexander at Lilybaion, which still was defiant. The fleet that was under construction at Syracuse was now complete, and in addition to the ships Alexander already had the fleet was now 230 ships strong. It consisted primarily of triremes and quadriremes, with only several quinqueremes present who acted as flagships. Alexander quickly had his fleet gathered near Lilybaion, eager to finally cut the city off. Nearchos was once again his admiral, and quickly started the blockade of the city. The Carthaginians immediately dispatched a fleet to break the blockade, under command of Hanno of Tharros [3]. It was halfway August 317 that the two fleets, the Carthaginian one somewhat smaller but more experienced, faced off near the Aigatian Isles, just west of Lilybaion.

It turned into a disaster for the Argead navy, which was outclassed and outmanoeuvred by its Phoenician opponents. Many of the rowers on the Argead were levies from the various Sicilian cities, who were increasingly wary of Alexander and the Macedonians. Alexander’s eagerness to deal with Lilybaion also meant that were wasn’t much time to train the rowers. Most disastrous was probably that at the start of the battle an Athenian squadron defected to the Carthaginians, in revenge for the sack of their city. All of this led to the defeat, with the Carthaginians managing to break the Argead line early in battle and sinking all the flagships. Nearchos managed to escape by swimming to a nearby trireme. A part of the fleet, around 50 ships, was cut off and captured by the Carthaginians, who towed them to the harbour of Lilybaion to acclaim of its defenders. Of the Argead fleet around 100 ships survived, who escaped to the recently captured harbour of Drepana. The Carthaginians, in retaliation for the killing of the prisoners of Eryx, now crucified captured Macedonians on the walls of Lilybaion, their cries of agony carried by the wind to the Argead army camped nearby. Yet despite all this, Alexander was still undeterred. Several futile assaults on the walls of Lilybaion were undertaken, during which Alexander himself often was in the line of battle, and it is only due to sheer luck that he suffered no physical injuries. When rumours reached the camp that the Syracusans were secretly in negotiation with the Carthaginians he send Antigenes, commander of the Argyraspidai, back to the city to occupy the citadel on Ortygia. Many of the Sicilian communities became unwilling to help the man who they increasingly saw as a tyrant instead of a liberator. Alexander, with his supplies dwindling and in an increasingly precarious position, decided to make a final attempt to defeat the Carthaginians.

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Battle of the Aigatian Isles

It was October 317 when the Argead fleet, 80 ships strong, set sail from Drepana with Carthage’s Libyan hinterland as destination. The small army on the ships was however not commanded by the Great King himself, but by Nikanor, son of Parmenion and one of Alexander’s generals. An outbreak of disease, most likely smallpox, ravaged the Macedonian army and Alexander himself was now also bedridden. Luck was not on the Macedonians’ side, despite the Carthaginians being surprised and unable to quickly counter the fleet, a autumn storm laid waste to the fleet. The fleet was scattered, picked apart by the Carthaginian navy, but still around 40 ships managed to reach the African shore near the city of Aspis, which fell to a quick assault. His army only 12000 strong, Nikanor quickly marshalled his forces and first marched south, sacking the city of Neapolis [4] in November 317. Aside from some local militia there was little resistance to Nikanor’s advance, and his army plundered the rich Libyan countryside without much opposition.

After sacking Neapolis Nikanor quickly struck west, crossing the Catadas River [5] and occupying Tunes, not far from Carthage itself. In the great city panic broke out, unnecessary perhaps since its walls were thick and well-defended and the enemy force too small to effectively sustain a siege, never mind assaulting the city itself. The supporters of Abdmelqart in the Adirim managed to recall their general from Lilybaion and now granted him the generalship in Africa, to evict Nikanor. The general returned with several thousand men and started training a force at Carthage itself. In the meantime at Tunes there had been unrest among the Argead troops, mostly between the Macedonians and the others about the division of the plunder. Another Carthaginian general, Adherbal son of Baalyaton, had raised an army among the Libyans and had hired Numidians, and now made sure that the Macedonians would not advance further inland. An attempt by Nikanor to incite revolt among the Libyan subjects of Carthage ended in failure, and soon afterwards it seems Nikanor’s army broke apart entirely. Archagathus, son of Agathokles and commander of the Syracusan troops, broke of with his troops and tried to march back to Aspis. He was ambushed and killed while en route, leaving Nikanor even more isolated and his army understrength. In February 316 Abdmelqart marched out of Carthage and utterly destroyed what was left of the Macedonian army at Tunes, with Nikanor perishing on the field. Abdmelqart was now praised as the saviour of his country, and returned to Carthage in triumph. Not long afterwards an envoy was send to Alexander, to finally settle a peace agreement.

Alexander, having recovered from the smallpox, decided to agree. Reports had reached him of incursions into Thrace from across the Danube, of unrest in Babylon and agitators in Persia, of uprisings alongside the Indus. Staying on Sicily could mean gambling away the rest of his Empire. While none of those would turn out to be serious threats Alexander could not know that, and by now he was probably sick of the island and its fickle inhabitants, who once greeted him as their saviour and now were seemingly sharpening their knives for him. The entirety of Sicily, with exception of Lilybaion, would become ‘free’. Macedonian garrisons at Syracuse, Akragas, Panormos and eventually Messana would however keep a close watch on the locals. Syracuse and several other cities also joined the Italiote League, and thus recognised Alexander as their commander and protector. Alexander marched back to Syracuse in March 316, which was not entirely uneventful. The city of Akragas had been rather uncooperative during the war, and now Alexander would have his revenge. Its economy largely dependent on its olive orchards, Alexander had all the olive trees cut down while passing by, condemning the locals to poverty. Before returning to the east he waged a small war against a group of mercenaries left behind by the Carthaginians in Messana, but he defeated them on the slopes of Mount Etna, and soon afterwards Messana fell too, making his dominion over Sicily more or less complete. In Syracuse he was publicly booed, but Alexander had the last laugh when he seized the city’s treasury before sailing away to Greece. While the island disappeared beyond the horizon Alexander supposedly said that he would never aid its ungrateful inhabitants again.

Footnotes

  1. In antiquity North Africa outside of Egypt was known as Libya to the Greeks.
  2. A suffete was the chief magistrate of the Carthaginian Republic who, like the Roman consuls, served a term of one year and by the era of this timeline always alongside a colleague. Although Greek and Roman sources, especially for the earlier periods of Carthaginian history, often mention a king this most probably refers to the elected suffetes. Together with the Adirim (Senate) they run the affairs of the Republic and sometimes appear as judge in civil lawsuits. Unlike their Roman equivalents they did not have a military function, which was beholden to the elected generals. In practice though there are several instances of someone being elected to both offices, which led to Greek writers commenting that the Carthaginian armies on Sicily were led by a king.
  3. Carthaginian inscriptions often offer lengthy genealogies, but since their pool of names was rather constricted and they didn’t have surnames it will become confusing pretty quickly. Since Carthage will be pretty important in the TL I decided to, in case of important Carthaginian characters, give them a family name so they are easier to remember. In this case ‘of Tharros’ refers to Tharros on Sardinia, implying that this Hanno has his origin there. There was a Hanno who commanded an army during the war against Agathokles OTL, and this is meant to be him, although the Sardinian origin is entirely my own invention, I hope it doesn’t bother anyone too much.
  4. Not the city in Italy but the modern-day city of Nabeul in Tunisia.
  5. Modern-day Oued Miliane in Tunisia.
 
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A good update, a little surprised that as monomaniacal Alexander could be he did not take Lillybaion, would that be the first city he never took?
 
I imagine it must have been very costly to the Nanda to repel Alexander's invasion. While Chandragupta is dead, there might be figures like him to seek to liberate the Indus Valley and Punjab from the "Yavanas". In particular I see tension developing between Dhana Nanda and Shriyaka. And the Nanda uparaja is quite unpopular, low-caste, and having suffered damages from Alexander's invasion. Could we see Shriyaka pulling off a Pushyamitra Shunga-style coup?
Yes, somekind of backlash against the Macedonians is likely, although if the local rulers stay loyal they should be able to deal with it. For the Nanda the invasion was devastating, and they're probably not long for this world. Still, my knowledge of India isn't very good so I'm not quite sure how to handle the aftermath of their fall. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be happy to hear them.

If the Carthaginians manage to survive Alexander's invasion, what changes to their society would result? In particular, could Bomilcar or an ATL analogue succeed ITTL in restoring the monarchy? In addition, if Carthage is sacked, it might fragment the Punic heartland for a little while, as the Libyo-Phoenician townships and cities like Utica take their chance. But in the long run I see this beneficial for the Carthaginians. Fundamental changes to their society, government, and army would likely occur.
As you can read in the update the Carthaginians managed to repel the Macedonians, in large part thanks to luck and an increasing unwillingness by the Sicilians to aid Alexander. As you might have guessed, a large part of the campaign was based on Pyrrhus' campaign on Sicily, who faced many of the same problems. For now large changes to Carthaginian society are unlikely, despite losing large parts of Sicily the Carthaginians certainly did not lose the war and probably see little reason to change much. A restoration of monarchy (if Carthage ever had one) is unlikely, and Bomilcar attempted his coup amidst an emergency which is unlikely to happen ITTL. He will show up though.

The glory days of the 30th dynasty are long gone, but Bakhenhaur is doing a good job. The 30th dynasty has truly left their mark on Egypt and restored order and stability, which unfortunately is in jeopardy right now. However, I'm curious why you decided to leave a strong, surviving, Argead Empire? It would be easier for Egypt to survive if it wasn't being surrounded from three sides and simply had to deal with a bunch of self-proclaimed strongmen hacking at each other. But it's your TL.
Originally I planned for a surviving Achaemenid dynasty in Babylonia and Persia, but I changed that since Persia without Egypt is a lot weaker, and thus even more unlikely to be able to halt the Macedonians. Also, it is not really the 'goal' of the TL to have the 30th dynasty rule indefinitely, the goal is to have a a recognizable culturally Egyptian Egypt survive, but that doesn't mean Egypt will never be conquered or occupied again.

IOTL Alexander's cultural fusion programs didn't really took off. The Seleucids IOTL made some attempts, and they did incorporate elements of Persian culture, but they would not go to the same extent as Alexander. If Alexander does live long, his cultural fusion programs might really take off.
If he wants his empire to last, he'll have to make some compromises with the Persian nobility, which inevitably means some kind of cultural exchange, especially in areas with many Greek settlers.

Alexander has defeated the Saka at Cyropolis, but this isn't the last time I expect to see them. I forsee that they would eventually become a major problem for the Argeads to deal with, along with their Scythian cousins.
Not really sure about details yet, but they'll show up again.

The Celtic invasions are forthcoming, and Alexander may not live to see them. I have no idea when he would die, so he should be able to see off the 310 BC migration. Maybe he offers them land in Persia or even India. But it is the far larger migration of 280 BC that is the much greater threat.
If the Argead Empire is strong enough who knows if the Celts even migrate to the southeast? Perhaps they'll find an easier target somewhere else.

The philosophical aspects would be absolutely fascinating to see.
It's something I'll need to do some reading on at some point, I'm not really knowledgeable about it.
 
Wow. The glow of being 'King of the World" is definitely lost on the Italiotes and especially the Carthaginians.

The Carthaginians definitely performed as well they could have here.
 
Wow. The glow of being 'King of the World" is definitely lost on the Italiotes and especially the Carthaginians.

The Carthaginians definitely performed as well they could have here.
Yes the Carthaginians, despite losing their protectorate over Western Sicily outside of Lilybaion, were quite lucky. His inability to capture Lilybaion is kind of based on OTL, neither Pyrrhus nor the Romans, who besieged the place for 9 years, managed to capture it. In the end it was the Roman victory on sea that caused the Carthaginians to give up during the Punic War, but Alexander was not so lucky and lost a large part of his fleet. In the end the outbreak of disease and the failed attack on Africa sealed the deal for the Macedonians.
 
Next update will probably be sometime next week, it will be a more general update, not focussed on a single nation or conflict like the last few updates. There's a curfew here after 9 PM, so I guess I can spend the evenings writing the TL.
 
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I expected the Carthaginians to survive the war and remain independent, but keeping a foothold on Sicily itself is surprising to me. I am guessing that if Alexander had not been thoroughly pissed off by the Italiote Greeks, he would have pressed at least until he had full control of Sicily.
 
I expected the Carthaginians to survive the war and remain independent, but keeping a foothold on Sicily itself is surprising to me. I am guessing that if Alexander had not been thoroughly pissed off by the Italiote Greeks, he would have pressed at least until he had full control of Sicily.
In that case he would have needed to built another large fleet to cut off Lilybaion, which would probably lead to even more unrest among the Sicilian Greeks because they would once again be the ones who would supply rowers and resources to man and built the fleet.
 
I was thinking more about the innovations and improvements his and the later Roman siege engineers came up with. If one has an empire with vast resources and top-tier R&D at the pointy end, storming a previously unassailable citadel is a matter of time, patience and finding the best potential siege engineers in one's empire and convincing them to accept these bags of money in exchange for their best ideas.
 
I was thinking more about the innovations and improvements his and the later Roman siege engineers came up with. If one has an empire with vast resources and top-tier R&D at the pointy end, storming a previously unassailable citadel is a matter of time, patience and finding the best potential siege engineers in one's empire and convincing them to accept these bags of money in exchange for their best ideas.
While that is true, Alexander was kind of outstaying his welcome on Sicily. The Syracusans and other Greeks invited him as a protector but he ended up being an overlord, which they resented as they did OTL with Pyrrhus. Despite the vast size of his realm and his wealth while on Sicily Alexander was still dependent on local support, so I'm not sure if he could have continued the siege for that much longer without also having to fight the Syracusans.

On the coming update: unexpectedly I've been quite busy last week, and that will probably extend to next week as well. Sorry for promising an update last week, with some luck it will be next week but more probably the week thereafter.
 
23. Alexander and his Empire: 316-310 BCE
23. Alexander and his Empire: 316-310 BCE

After the war on Sicily Alexander returned to Pella as a changed man, no longer certain that his empire would expand indefinitely. To his credit, while he was disappointed and somewhat bitter his primary concern was the stability of his realm, which he attempted to ensure by leaving behind garrisons under commanders who he personally trusted. I was left behind in Taras to oversee the Italiote states, and my brother in Syracuse to guard Sicily.

- Excerpt from Ptolemaios’ The Wars of Megas Alexandros

Despite expanding his domain and reducing the Carthaginians to their stronghold in Lilybaion the war on Sicily had been a disappointment for Alexander. The Carthaginians’ effective control of the sea and the general unwillingness of the Sicilians to aid the Macedonians had hampered Alexander’s campaign greatly. Perhaps the Syracusans and other Sicilian Greeks should have known better, but it seems they expected the Great King of Asia to act as a simple mercenary captain rather than a ruler bent on expanding his domain.

But all of that was now behind Alexander, after 2 miserable years of war on Sicily he was on his way home again. Instead of sailing to Macedon he landed at Corinth, where he addressed the Assembly of the Hellenic League and commended them for their loyalty. At Delphi Alexander ordered the construction of a small temple, where some of the spoils of the war against the Carthaginians would be stored in dedication to Apollo. He also visited the recently-sacked Athens, where he paid for the expenses of the reconstruction of the city’s public buildings. While this is unlikely to have convinced the most anti-Macedonian among the populace, it at least showed that the King was not vengeful and considered that Athens had been sufficiently punished. Alexander’s last stop before returning to Pella was a visit to the Olympic Games in July 316, where he made a speech to the assembled crowd and gave gifts to the Temple of Zeus.

Alexander did not remain in Pella for long, but he did make some important administrative changes for Macedon. Hephaistion was replaced by Krateros as regent of Macedon. Hephaistion and his family would join Alexander on his journey back to Babylon, and he was granted the command of the hetairoi, which was vacant after the death of Philotas on Sicily. Krateros was thus left in charge of Macedon, which was something he was more suited to than ruling a satrapy in the east, conservative as he was. Despite the vast Asian territories Macedon was still an important country, it provided the vast majority of the heavy infantry and a good part of the cavalry, and was prestigious as the Argead dynasty’s homeland. Another thing that Alexander did while in Macedon was overseeing the start of the construction of his tomb at Aigai, the traditional burial ground of the Macedonian kings, near the one belonging to his father.

Alexander and his entourage, consisting of his close companions and several elite units of the army, crossed the Aegean in September 316 and landed at Ephesos. The cities of Ionia had greatly profited from the founding of the Argead Empire, as their traders dominated trade between the Aegean and the ports of Syria and Phoenicia. During the Achaemenid period the coast of Anatolia had often been a theatre of war, but during the early Argead period it finally enjoyed some peace. The most famous of those cities was Ephesos, but others like Smyrna and Miletos also attained a high level of prosperity during this era. It is not unsurprising then that the Great King was greeted with divine honours in Ionia, several cities introduced cults in his name, or in some cases in name of his father and/or mother. Alexander reciprocated by donating to various temples, most famously to the temple of Artemis at Ephesos.

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Temple of Artemis at Ephesos

Alexander departed Ionia in October 316, sailing to Syria from Ephesos and thus bypassing the Anatolian interior, which had changed considerably in the preceding years. During Philip’s campaign of conquest much of Anatolia had been bypassed, most notably it’s northern territories near the Black Sea. Alexander had originally planned to campaign there until he was forced to intervene in Italy. The chiliarch Antigonos, the second-in-command of the Empire, had during several campaigns in 318 and 317 systematically subjugated the still independent Anatolian states. Antigonos knew the area well, he had been satrap of Phrygia for many years, and was respected by many among the various Anatolian elites, which aided considerably during his campaigns. Much of the local aristocracy was of Persian descent, and by now they more or less acquiesced to Argead rule, perhaps arguing that they were the rightful heirs of the Achaemenids. No large-scale battles are mentioned, and it seems Antigonos’ campaign was as much an diplomatic one as it was a military one. Cities such as Amaseia, Herakleia Pontika and Sinope offered their subjugation relatively quickly. The satrapy of Cappadocia was expanded and a new satrapy, Paphlagonia, was added to the Empire.

Alexander thus returned to Babylon in November 316 and he once again entered the city in a great triumphal procession, displaying some of the captured wealth of the Carthaginians. Unlike after his return from India however it seems the King desired, and took, some rest. He settled himself in the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar and from there he oversaw the bureaucracy and handled matters of state. Many days were filled with hunting trips, now always accompanied by Hephaistion, and long drinking sessions. Alexander still took part in various ceremonies and regularly visited important building sites near the city, but for quite some time he seemed eager to put the battlefield behind him. While he would of course return to the army for now the Great King was content to let his satraps handle military matters. While it shows that Alexander had taken his mind off large-scale expansion, at least for now, it also shows that he trusted his satraps to guard the empire.

It was thus that for several years the Argead Empire was not involved in large scale military operations, and Alexander spent most of that time in and around his capital at Babylon. This was a remarkable period in the Great King’s life, which so often seems full of restlessness and eagerness to outdo his father. This period, from 316 to 310, also saw several developments in Alexander’s family. In 314 both of his wives’, Artakama and Nitokris, gave birth to sons. Nitokris’ son was named Alexander, but sadly he did not live long and died several weeks after his birth. Artakama’s son was named Karanos, after the Argead Dynasty’s first ruler. In 312 Nitokris was pregnant again, and gave birth to a daughter that was named Olympias, after her paternal grandmother. It was also during this period that the elder Olympias, Alexander’s mother, moved to Babylon and thus resided at her son’s court. She had spend many years in her homeland Epiros supporting her daughter Cleopatra who was regent, in 312 however Neoptolemos II had come of age and thus no longer required a regent to rule for him. Cleopatra still remained in Epiros, and so did a Macedonian garrison under Leonnatos, which more or less confirmed that Epiros was an Macedonian vassal.

For the administration of his Empire during these years Alexander still depended on Eumenes and Antigonos, both of whom had shown time and time again that they were capable and loyal. Antigonos especially had impressed Alexander, first by successfully pacifying Anatolia and afterwards by exploiting the situation in Egypt by adding Phoenicia to the empire without spilling any Macedonian blood. This greatly enhanced his position and that of his family, and especially of his son Demetrios who had served admirably under his father. Another important man was Perdikkas, who as satrap of Baktria and Sogdiana was responsible for a large part of the east, but he too had shown that he was capable, through negotiations, diplomacy and calculated use of brute force he had managed to keep control of his sometimes restless province. These men, whom Alexander had known for most of his life, formed an elite among the elite and were known as the royal companions. They had personal access to the king and thus great influence and wealth. Besides Antigonos and Perdikkas they included Krateros, Hephaistion, Lysimachos and Ptolemaios. Under later kings this small circle would expand and include illustrious men from all over the empire, but under Alexander it consisted of his closest friends and advisors.

While Alexander himself did not go to war during this period, it is incorrect to state that peace reigned uninterrupted in the Argead Empire. As Alexander had heard on Sicily, there were some uprisings on the banks of the Indus, but when he returned to Babylon they had already been suppressed by Lysimachos, who indiscriminately slaughtered the rebels and the Brahmins who inspired their revolt. Several small incursions by the Saka were also dealt with by Perdikkas, who drove them back across the Jaxartes. Probably the most serious threat during this period came from the Lower Danube, where several groups of Getai [1] started raiding across the river, into Thrace. In 311 the Macedonians had had enough, and Krateros responded with overwhelming force, destroying the severely outnumbered Getai and afterwards crossing the Danube and torching several of their settlements. Some of the local Getai tribes offered their subjugation and tribute, which Krateros accepted. Another expansions of Macedonian rule was the formal vassalization of the Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporos [2], whose rulers reckoned that the Argead Empire could be a powerful benefactor and a potential ally against the Scythian tribes.

Yet all these conflicts were peripheral to the Empire. Vast and cosmopolitan, it now had spread its wings from Sicily to the foothills of the Himalaya and from the waters of the Danube to the Arabian desert. Trade flourished now that the Empire was established and stable, and revenues filled the already well-filled coffers of the Great King. Goods, services and ideas were now exchanged once again under the watchful eye of the new dynasty that held sway over Asia. Eager to show himself a true cosmopolitan ruler Alexander ordered a rock inscription near the one of Darius near Naqsh-i-Rostam. There he presented himself as a Persian monarch, naming his accomplishments and his territories. He also named his vassals, among which he named the Egyptians, Carthaginians and even the Romans and Saunitai. Exaggerated as it was, there still could be no doubt that despite some setbacks on Sicily the Argead Empire was by far the world’s strongest state. The period of royal inactivity came to an end in 310 BCE, when Alexander once again had to march to India.

Footnotes

  1. A tribe that lived in OTL modern-day Romania
  2. A Greek Kingdom on the Crimea
 
A bit shorter than usual, sorry for that. I'm still quite busy with work but I wanted to get some update out, so there it is. Another update should be up probably next week, and will focus mostly on Egypt.
 
I wonder what happened in India, did you use my idea of Shriyaka pulling off a coup and creating a revanchist Magadhan empire?
 
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