Roman America

"Many years have to lazily pass until a time comes
in which the ocean opens the barriers of the world.
An immense land will be discovered and Thetys will reveal new worlds.
No longer will Thule be the last of the lands
"-Seneca

Nero was, as we all know, a arrows short of a full quiver. In 62 AD, he decides that, rather than simply tell Seneca to commit suicide (for where, after all, is the fun in that?) he will give him a challenge.

Nero has read some of Seneca's plays, and although he finds them boring, he decides it would be humorous to offer Seneca a challenge. If he can find the New Worlds of which he wrote, he can live.

Seneca, given the choice between certain death and near certain death, wisely chooses the latter, and in 62 AD he sets off from Cordoba.

It comes as a great surprise when he returns in 64, with two ships less, but still intact.

He has, in fact, discovered a new land. And he brings gold....

What now? (We shall assume that he landed on Hispaniola).
 

MrP

Banned
64's the year of the Great Fire, right? I don't see much happening at once, since Nero's too distracted by his glorious plans for rebuilding Rome. However, some nice flamboyant nonsense is just Nero's style ;) (Sorry, I agree too much with Tacitus!). So he might send out a follow-up expedition. Considering he'll be dead by 68 (butterflies excluded), and the Empire is in chaos for quite a bit thereafter I don't imagine that much would happen. However, if he does decide to send a prominent citizen to secure these new domains it could get interesting. Galba? Otho? Vitellius? Vespasian, perhaps? A slightly different order of Imperial succession.

I'd imagine the Britannic Fleet would initially have a prominent role, since it's more experienced with Atlantic weather than the Mediterranean Fleets (obviously, I'm thinking JC ;) ).
 
Faeelin said:
"Many years have to lazily pass until a time comes
in which the ocean opens the barriers of the world.
An immense land will be discovered and Thetys will reveal new worlds.
No longer will Thule be the last of the lands
"-Seneca

Nero was, as we all know, a arrows short of a full quiver. In 62 AD, he decides that, rather than simply tell Seneca to commit suicide (for where, after all, is the fun in that?) he will give him a challenge.

Nero has read some of Seneca's plays, and although he finds them boring, he decides it would be humorous to offer Seneca a challenge. If he can find the New Worlds of which he wrote, he can live.

Seneca, given the choice between certain death and near certain death, wisely chooses the latter, and in 62 AD he sets off from Cordoba.

It comes as a great surprise when he returns in 64, with two ships less, but still intact.

He has, in fact, discovered a new land. And he brings gold....

What now? (We shall assume that he landed on Hispaniola).
Cordoba is a couple of hundred kilometers from the sea, maybe he sets sail from Gades...
 
Religious Deportation

In the aftermath of Nero's blaming of the Christians for the fire in Rome, it is decided that this troublesome cult should be deported to the new land across the sea. Seneca is made proconsul over this colony composed of Christians and slaves.

Under Seneca's stoic leadership, and using his great wealth and skill, the colony is a success. Because the colonists are easily the best ocean sailors anywhere, Roman emperors are unable to assert their authority and the colony breaks away whilst continuing to trade with Rome and to be a haven from religious persecution in Europe.
 

Hendryk

Banned
hexicus said:
In the aftermath of Nero's blaming of the Christians for the fire in Rome, it is decided that this troublesome cult should be deported to the new land across the sea. Seneca is made proconsul over this colony composed of Christians and slaves.
At this time Christians are but a tiny fringe cult that most Romans can't even tell apart from Jews. I don't think they would be considered for deportation.
 
JimmyJimJam said:
Whered they get the gold? The Mesoamericans probably would have handed the Romans their butts on a platter.
He trades? I meanm, the Romans won't bring guns or horses, but they will bhring all kinds of nifty things the natives would want, such as glass vessels, metal implements, strong wine and novel cosmetics.

A Roman colonisation of America would take a long time, and most likely not result in a displacement of the natives. But in order to achieve it, the Romans would have to learn about trade wind sailing. No reason they couldn't, if they understood the benefits. And that opens up interesting possibilities...
 
Hendryk said:
At this time Christians are but a tiny fringe cult that most Romans can't even tell apart from Jews. I don't think they would be considered for deportation.
Tacitus records that Nero tried to blame the Christians for the fire in Rome of this year. So in fact he did single them out for persecution - I'm just suggesting a different form for that persecution.

Whilst Romans didn't distinguish between Jews and Christians, I wouldn't say that implies that they are low profile - many westerners would confuse say Buddhism and Confucianism though they are both fairly well known movements.
 
Presumably, AD62 Romans would have landed in Hispanola, rather than MesoAmerica proper. Although they probably would not have brought horses, I would think a few cattle, pigs, or sheep might have gone along for food. A proper Roman exploration fleet (assuming Seneca allows a few hired experts to lead things) would have been quite hard for natives, even late preClassic/early Classic Mesoamericans, to crush, unless trickery was involved. No native society would have come close to matching a small Roman military detachment in organization, tactics, and weaponry, even without horses and firearms. Also, since all Seneca needed to do was to prove he found a new world, he almost certainly have resisted the temptation to plunge on to central Mexico (Teotihuacan had started as a going concern) or the early Classic Maya centers where he colud get himself killed, sacrificed, and on a local ruler's dinnertable.

No doubt, the discovery of the new world by Romans would have been quite different from OTL. Presuming the effects of disease can be lessened (by perhaps spreading out the period of initial limited contacts over several centuries and allowing the disease vectors to spread more gradually), advanced native societies would survive, although they would doubtless adopt important elements of Roman technology - and perhaps most importantly the latin script. The polytheistic MesoAmerican religions would have adopted well to the introduction of Roman gods, and with them perhaps a lessening of the brutal blood-sacrifices. Perhaps the Romans would adopt MesoAmerican place-numbering systems (with the "zero") to replace their cumbersome notation. American crops, such as maize, new varieries of beans and squash, chilies, tomatoes, and so forth would quickly spread to Europe. Tobacco and Chocolate as well. Asuming the basic history of Rome and it's eventual adoption of Christianity is not butterflied away, it's reasonable to presume Christianity (as well as Mithraism, Judaism, and other oldworld sects) would have spread to MesoAmerica. Possible cults around some Mexican gods might become popular in Rome as well.

MesoAmerican civilizations would probably seem to the Romans more like the Germanic and Celtic barbarian chiefdoms than other advanced old world civilizations. The only thing which would probably save them from conquest is distance and logistics (plus the fact that pre-Christian Rome lacked the missoinizing zeal). If contact between them became common, Rome might want to undertake military actions to eliminate the practice of human sacrifice, which would have seemed quite barbaric to them - especially if any Romans ever fell afoul of the Mexican gods.
 
Okay lets say Seneca sets out with 5 ships from Gades. The crew of the ships are mostly made up of enemies of Nero and the Imperial government, as the mission is expected to fail horribly. They coast along Africa until they sight the Canaries, where a storm blows them further westward. 3 of the ships stay together and eventually sight land near San Juan, Puerto Rico. They land and make contact with the natives, trading simple tools and gifts for gold and slaves. Seneca and his men build a roman fortress and begin farming the land.

Of the other two ships one sinks and the other eventually lands near Cape Verde. It returns to Rome and it is commonly accepted that all the other ships were lost.

How's that?
 
hexicus said:
In the aftermath of Nero's blaming of the Christians for the fire in Rome, it is decided that this troublesome cult should be deported to the new land across the sea. Seneca is made proconsul over this colony composed of Christians and slaves.

Under Seneca's stoic leadership, and using his great wealth and skill, the colony is a success. Because the colonists are easily the best ocean sailors anywhere, Roman emperors are unable to assert their authority and the colony breaks away whilst continuing to trade with Rome and to be a haven from religious persecution in Europe.
How soon before Jews and Mithraists show up? Might the colonists expand?
 
JimmyJimJam said:
Whered they get the gold? The Mesoamericans probably would have handed the Romans their butts on a platter.
They most likely got it through trade, Steel would be very valuble to them. But Meso-Americans handing the Roman's butts to them...

Laughs Histericly

Roman Legions were the best armies at the time bar none. They were well disiplined, well trained, well armed, well orgenized, lead by well versed and Experianced Legati (Generals), experianced fighting various European barbarians, used combined arms and logistical and defencive precautions were well before there time. The Natives were little more than the undisiplined barbarians, but lacked metal armor, metal weapons, composite bows, horses, decent sheilds or tatical know-how (Barbarians did sometimes use sheild walls and other basic tactics of the time).

A Roman Legion could easily take on 5 times it's number of meso-americans and win.

Zor
 
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They would have to take on a lot more than five times their number...

But I doubt this is going to be a mission of conquest. The Romans understood the concept of 'exploration', and FWIW Nero once sent out an expedition to locate the source of the Nile. This consisted of two centurions and - that was it. Which was probably the wisest choice, given they were not supposed to overrun any barbarian tribesmen. The first expedition will thus most likely consist of an imperial representative (Seneca, in this scenario), a group of specialists (geometers, scribes, probably an agronomist or prospector and a translator - it would be logical for the Romans to assume the natives would speak a Celtic dialect), sailors and a small unit of troops, both most likely drawn from one of the fleets. Even if it turned out that the natives had things to offer to make the journey worthwhile (and that would have to be something impressive indeed - maybe the willingness to pay for steel or glass in gold, weight for weight) the following expeditions would take a long time to establish anything like a Roman beachhead. Maybe if the state was really interested it could offer a kind of insurance like it did for the Alexandria grain route.

Shipping over a legion - well, minus the horses and artillery that is still 4000-5000 men, and given they need water and food for a month or three you can't really have more than a century per ship, at the outside and assuming big ships. No, if Rome wants to establish a military presence it will be through fleet soldiers and maybe auxiliary vexillations. And forget conquest. They'd coopt local rulers and maybe get dragged into someone's neighbourhood spat a decade or two into the exploration. At that point, of course, they'd sweep the floor with their enemies - while suplies and men last. But I doubt the Roman government would want any part of it. Even by the lights of the 16th century the Americas were worlds away, and to an Ancient civilisation the Atlantic is practically outer space.
 
I would tend to agree with Carlton. If the Romans found that these new lands on the other side of the ocean could be a source for something useful like gold, they might set up a few trading posts with auxiliary soldiers, but any attempt at large scale conquest or settlement would be extremely unlikely in the near future.

The Romans lacked some of the strongest motives that drove Europeans in many of their conquests and settlements, both in the Americas and elsewhere.

- No aggressive but poor warrior aristocracy like that of Castile or Aragon or even Portugal, ready to risk their lives on unlikely gambles. The Roman elite would serve in the military, but that was only part of a career that included civil offices as well. In any case, there were still barbarian lands closer to home that looked like better prospects for conquest than something all the way across the ocean.

- No religious/crusading/chivalrous spirit to motivate conquests of distant "heathen" peoples

- No shortage of gold or other precious metals - Rome controlled the entire Mediterranean basin by this time, and appears to have been well-supplied with precious metals. Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, on the other hand, was largely cut off from supplies of precious metals that were largely in Islamic countries, or that had their access routes blocked by Islamic countries. Hence, a huge motive to get their hand on any precious metals that they could, by war or trade.
 

Molobo

Banned
Two options:
Seneca meets the naitives and decides to stay and rule over them instead of returning to Rome with Nero in charge.He intends to go back in some time...only not yet.Romans become the rulling elite or advisors of chiefs and manage to civilize somewhat the locals.
Perhaps he sends a ship back, but in secret to contact his family etc.

Another option-the Romans establish some trading outposts,but when a major civil war erupts, one slaughtered family decides to escape to New World taking all their slaves, family members, soldiers.They take the risk rather then face certain death.

The first option is interesting-maybe the Caribbean could become a region of island city states of sailors in a couple of centuries if left alone.
 
Molobo said:
Another option-the Romans establish some trading outposts,but when a major civil war erupts, one slaughtered family decides to escape to New World taking all their slaves, family members, soldiers.They take the risk rather then face certain death.
It's a little late for that. The civil wars of the Empire are a lot less sanguinary (unless you're a civilian in the way of the advancing troops). No soldier or commander is going to risk his life in an unknown barbarian wilderness if he can just appeal to imperial clemency for himself and his five thousand battle-hardened veterans who are very sorry and could be very useful to the winner...

I was just thinking: with more traffic on the Atlantic, woill we see a Roman presence in Equatorial Africa? And if so, will they figure out profitable ways of using tropical lands? Auxiliaries from the Senegal or Congo river may be happier to be deployed and settled in Panama, Haiti or Jamaica...
 
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