Roman Empire Timeline Cliches To Avoid

I apologize if this has been brought up, but another cliche is Rome in some infinite future looking like Rome in the Ancient World. By the end, the look of the Roman world was very much an Early Medieval Kingdom. Gone were the armor and weapons of the past, and gone was much of the rest of the past which had given way to the aesthetic and way of life of the latter centuries.

One can argue that without the Germans, things would have been different. One can argue a sense of Roman self without the heavy German influence would be different. But the Pop Surviving Rome looks like the First Century with machine guns. The example of how different Rome going into the Medieval Period could have been is Byzantium.

On that note, there's the counter cliche of a surviving Western Rome looking like the OTL Byzantine Empire. I feel the distinctions that there already were between West and East when the West collapsed would have continued.

The inevitability of Christianity. That somehow, it will always come out on top because it's 'naturally' superior.

Personally, I think it is a low-probability outcome that happened because, occasionally, low-probability things do happen, like rolling a d100 and getting 100. Yeah I know it's more complicated than that and I could debate it like we have a million times, but I'm tired of it.

But it does bug me when I see it just arising "on schedule" without explanation as inevitable.

A number of concepts in Christianity were already floating around the Roman Empire at the time of its rise. You have monotheistic religions including but not exclusively the Jews. You have the idea of a dying and risen god in the form of Orphism. You have a imperial culture that at the time was open to absorbing other cultures.

Thus if you proclaim a faith that is inclusive, muliticultural and flows with the time you have fertile ground for it.

As for a Hasmonean religion butterflying away Jesus's birth, I cannot see how that can be as Herod was in effect a Hasmonean by marriage and Joseph and Mary were not related to that dynasty.

Some argue that Jesus really was born in Nazareth, as stated in Mark, and that the whole Bethlehem thing was a attempt by the writers of Matthew and, to a lesser degree, Luke (or whoever they took inspiration from), to prove that Jesus really was the Messiah, and fulfilled the prophecies, to a presumably Jewish audience - that particular event, specifically, being connected to Micah 5:1.

Christianity is Hellenized Judaism come home to roost and made accessible for Gentiles. Christianity was not destined to win, perhaps. The Christian themselves saw their place as to eternally wander, struggle and often suffer and die for the truth in a material world that would always be hostile to them. And therefore their place was not of the world. The Christianization of the Empire was not expected.

Christianity succeeded for many reasons. It was accessible to the outcasts of society and offered a message of meaning and personal importance to those outcasts. It was born out of Judaism mixed with the philosophies of the Roman world. Enough of its followers were devout enough to risk death. And it arose in an era of shifting religion and religious apathy. Constantine officiating the faith clinched it, but it was already a force in Rome or otherwise it would have been another unpopular monarch putting in place their pet religion, and seeing it replaced by the old ways after death.

Other faiths could have done that but the problem with the mystery cults was precisely that which they kept exclusive. As an alternative, I would offer Buddhism reaching a Rome with more stability. And that opens the possibility of Buddhism fusing with Roman polytheism and folk beliefs, as we saw in Greek Central Asia or the East.
 
Other faiths could have done that but the problem with the mystery cults was precisely that which they kept exclusive. As an alternative, I would offer Buddhism reaching a Rome with more stability. And that opens the possibility of Buddhism fusing with Roman polytheism and folk beliefs, as we saw in Greek Central Asia or the East.
Zoroastrianism would be more likely as it has less distance, at least overland. The catch is that it is the principle Persian region. Buddhism has the advantage of not being what the Enemy does, but first contact is the Red Sea ports, ie out on the fringe of the empire.. To have it spread much further you are looking at wide adoption in say Alexandria.
 
Technology being either far ahead or far behind OTL. There's this idea that Rome was stagnant and unchanging, and that it could never have industrialized or developed capitalism or anything, which, if one actually looks at history, is just not true. Slavery reached its peak in the late republic, started to decline in the Principate, became less and less common during the Dominate and early Byzantine periods (especially with Justinian giving slaves increased rights), and was basically gone by the high middle ages in Byzantium. In addition, the idea that slavery disincentivises labor-saving devices is unfounded. Just look at the cotton gin. Even in Roman times we see evidence of technological improvement. Additionally, Roman slavery was much different from American slavery. Any surviving Roman Empire would not have been stagnant. The Romans developed capitalism during the republic and Principate which was pretty comparable to early modern Europe. I see no reason why they wouldn't "rediscover" this at some later point.

However, Rome TLs also make a world where Rome survived far more advanced than our own, which also might not be the case, considering how Byzantium survived a millenium after the west fell and didn't leap ahead of everyone else.

Also, Rome going on a conquering spree is overdone. It was a Mediterranean based empire, so conquering Germania and Mesopotamia wouldn't really be a good idea, especially Mesopotamia.
 
I do need to point out that Byzantium wasn't stagnating either and it was in a war of survival most of its time after the rise of Islam.
Sure, Byzantium was far from stagnant. I did not mean to imply that. In fact, their technology was ahead of western Europe in a lot of ways for a long time. However, they didn't exactly do a whole lot with it. Automatons that roar and sing and lift thrones are cool and all, but not exactly practical. And a lot of useful technologies (cranes, waterwheels, baths, aqueducts, etc) fell out of use, and the Byzantine economy was a shadow of its former self. No longer were goods produced on a proto-industrial scale. No longer was there a complex financial network for investing in commerce and infrastructure.
 
. Slavery reached its peak in the late republic, started to decline in the Principate, became less and less common during the Dominate and early Byzantine periods (especially with Justinian giving slaves increased rights)
But this was combination of the change in economy and Christian views on slavery which took time to spread if the pod goes back far enough number two is erased so slavery or serfdom that acts more like it like it can take longer to die out.
the idea that slavery disincentivises labor-saving devices is unfounded.
this comes from the south and LATAM which yeah slave labor did not help with industrialization directly sure the cotton was nice and necessary but the south was no industrial center because its prime economic model was slavery
Any surviving Roman Empire would not have been stagnant. The Romans developed capitalism during the republic and Principate which was pretty comparable to early modern Europe. I see no reason why they wouldn't "rediscover" this at some later point.
I would fully agree with this
cranes, waterwheels, baths, aqueducts, etc) fell out of use
most of these did not at least not fully disappear in the east just reduced due to near economic collapse of the byzantine dark ages
. No longer was there a complex financial network for investing in commerce and infrastructure.
there was one when the empire recovered in the 9th century just as lower scale which would be dwarfed by this rome
 
But this was combination of the change in economy and Christian views on slavery which took time to spread if the pod goes back far enough number two is erased so slavery or serfdom that acts more like it like it can take longer to die out.

this comes from the south and LATAM which yeah slave labor did not help with industrialization directly sure the cotton was nice and necessary but the south was no industrial center because its prime economic model was slavery

I would fully agree with this

most of these did not at least not fully disappear in the east just reduced due to near economic collapse of the byzantine dark ages

there was one when the empire recovered in the 9th century just as lower scale which would be dwarfed by this rome
While the Byzantines did recover after the 9th century, they were still not as advanced and developed overall as they were during antiquity.
 
I apologize if this has been brought up, but another cliche is Rome in some infinite future looking like Rome in the Ancient World. By the end, the look of the Roman world was very much an Early Medieval Kingdom. Gone were the armor and weapons of the past, and gone was much of the rest of the past which had given way to the aesthetic and way of life of the latter centuries.

One can argue that without the Germans, things would have been different. One can argue a sense of Roman self without the heavy German influence would be different. But the Pop Surviving Rome looks like the First Century with machine guns. The example of how different Rome going into the Medieval Period could have been is Byzantium.

On that note, there's the counter cliche of a surviving Western Rome looking like the OTL Byzantine Empire. I feel the distinctions that there already were between West and East when the West collapsed would have continued.







Christianity is Hellenized Judaism come home to roost and made accessible for Gentiles. Christianity was not destined to win, perhaps. The Christian themselves saw their place as to eternally wander, struggle and often suffer and die for the truth in a material world that would always be hostile to them. And therefore their place was not of the world. The Christianization of the Empire was not expected.

Christianity succeeded for many reasons. It was accessible to the outcasts of society and offered a message of meaning and personal importance to those outcasts. It was born out of Judaism mixed with the philosophies of the Roman world. Enough of its followers were devout enough to risk death. And it arose in an era of shifting religion and religious apathy. Constantine officiating the faith clinched it, but it was already a force in Rome or otherwise it would have been another unpopular monarch putting in place their pet religion, and seeing it replaced by the old ways after death.

Other faiths could have done that but the problem with the mystery cults was precisely that which they kept exclusive. As an alternative, I would offer Buddhism reaching a Rome with more stability. And that opens the possibility of Buddhism fusing with Roman polytheism and folk beliefs, as we saw in Greek Central Asia or the East.
Also worth mentioning that stuff like the Cult of Isis and the Cult of Mithras were the most popular(the latter especially with soldiers) and were indeed serious contenders in converting people to their mysteries, an interesting scenario I would like to see more of is one of Rome tolerating Christianity but never becoming majority Christian, with it being much more common or even a majority in the Eastern provinces and the more West you go, the less Christians you find, the end result being a multireligious Roman Empire as always but now with Christianity that could develop in different manners due to not being the official state religion and being much more of a "Oriental" religion rather than being synonymous with Europe and Rome
 
Also worth mentioning that stuff like the Cult of Isis and the Cult of Mithras were the most popular(the latter especially with soldiers) and were indeed serious contenders in converting people to their mysteries, an interesting scenario I would like to see more of is one of Rome tolerating Christianity but never becoming majority Christian, with it being much more common or even a majority in the Eastern provinces and the more West you go, the less Christians you find, the end result being a multireligious Roman Empire as always but now with Christianity that could develop in different manners due to not being the official state religion and being much more of a "Oriental" religion rather than being synonymous with Europe and Rome
Mystery cults were never going to be anything more than marginal-they were, by design, an exclusive club-there not being too many initiates and the initiates being sworn to secrecy was their whole point. Mithras is an especially bad candidate for gaining any serious traction outside of the army, given that half the Roman population was explicitly forbidden from joining the Mithras cult. Without Christianity (barring the importation of another exclusivist religion) there isn't going to be a one dominant Roman religion, because Roman religious worship was not exclusive. Worshipping the Cult of Sol Invictus did not prevent you from joining a mystery cult or making offerings to a local god or worshipping any other major deity. There's no real "converting people to Mithras," because it implies you're making them choose-people can join the Mithras cult but that doesn't exclude them from any other form of religious worship.
 
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Also worth mentioning that stuff like the Cult of Isis and the Cult of Mithras were the most popular(the latter especially with soldiers) and were indeed serious contenders in converting people to their mysteries, an interesting scenario I would like to see more of is one of Rome tolerating Christianity but never becoming majority Christian, with it being much more common or even a majority in the Eastern provinces and the more West you go, the less Christians you find, the end result being a multireligious Roman Empire as always but now with Christianity that could develop in different manners due to not being the official state religion and being much more of a "Oriental" religion rather than being synonymous with Europe and Rome

Mystery cults were never going to be anything more than marginal-they were, by design, an exclusive club-their not being too many initiates and the initiates being sworn to secrecy was their whole point. Mithras is an especially bad candidate for gaining any serious traction outside of the army, given that half the Roman population was explicitly forbidden from joining the Mithras cult. Without Christianity (barring the importation of another exclusivist religion) there isn't going to be a one dominant Roman religion, because Roman religious worship was not exclusive. Worshipping the Cult of Sol Invictus did not prevent you from joining a mystery cult or making offerings to a local god or worshipping any other major deity. There's no real "converting people to Mithras," because it implies you're making them choose-people can join the Mithras cult but that doesn't exclude them from any other form of religious worship.

The lines between religion, spirituality, superstition and philosophy were all rather blurred. What Christianity did, among the other things I mentioned, was also appeal to existing Hellenistic philosophical thought and familiar concepts such as Monism. I'd also argue that streamlining the transcendent world and making concise dogma or at least a rough confine of dogma to work within (even despite its acceptance of mysteries and the many details and branches of the faith) made it "user friendly". In short and far too simplified terms: there was one God who was three forms*, He loved you unconditionally and you were equal to everyone, life in the world is suffering but that is ok, you will be given paradise for your faith, and everything good you do is absolutely meaningful and all that has meaning even unto death.

Christianity arose out of the persecution experienced by the Jews and its own experiences with persecution. It made it both resilient for its own sake but also made it a message of transcendent resilience for followers and potential converts; a message of "despite everything". In a hard world, that was a major point. This was a faith that literally had its own (face of) God killed, and still kept going.

I have no strong opposition to the idea of Zoroastrianism taking its place. However, I have a feeling it would not because it had not. I'd argue that Roman faith was going to change in some form because it already was. That evolution of the traditional pantheons, the fusion with other faiths and philosophies, or the possible complete replacement of faith is an open question. We can only argue likelihoods and possibilities. Another contender would be Manichaeism.


Touching on the point of fusion and syncretism, in some form this may become obvious: different faiths mixing with each other and local beliefs, even despite any contradictions that may have. Ex. Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism are different: Taoism is the world as itself to be accepted and to become in flow with, Buddhism is the world as suffering to be transcended, and Confucianism is the world needing to be regulated and domesticated (to be very general). However, these are often fused together in Eastern faiths. A similar thing could happen in the West. However, even when not overt or when outright dogmatically rejected, all philosophy and religious ideas are in conversation with each other and influence one another.
 
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I apologize if this has been brought up, but another cliche is Rome in some infinite future looking like Rome in the Ancient World. By the end, the look of the Roman world was very much an Early Medieval Kingdom. Gone were the armor and weapons of the past, and gone was much of the rest of the past which had given way to the aesthetic and way of life of the latter centuries.
Worst, Rome would change weapons, but not armors, and tactics.
Basically, any "Future" RE army would look like this:
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Even RON, that allowed a Super Roman Empire, managed to change the soldiers look of Rome in all ages.
 
Worst, Rome would change weapons, but not armors, and tactics.
Basically, any "Future" RE army would look like this:
main-qimg-0a4b42620418f44961d71f9727c9c24b-lq

main-qimg-280093824a0357327f260c9521b9293e-lq

qiain84vm0sy.jpg

main-qimg-6c2e1fcfad49f25473642e3183405c6b-lq

Even RON, that allowed a Super Roman Empire, managed to change the soldiers look of Rome in all ages.

Aesthetic is a big part of Alternate History from the fandom view. There's no shame or wrong in that, certainly; its for fun. But from a historical perspective, what things are is the result of real needs and considerations. It looks the way it does for a purpose rather than ceremony. The ceremony comes after if at all.

Armor is what it is because of the realities of the era and the enemies and conditions it would face. Every single piece of armor serves a purpose and armor or lack of armor is an interchange of benefit vs trade off. It can look cool but it is not there to be cool. It is also not universal. There can be different configurations, inclusions or exclusions of armor pieces per soldier depending on the region, purpose or battle. The Roman armor of the Pax Romana worked for its time but if you dropped it in 1000 AD, they would have been outdated. The look of Roman armor or military outfit may have had some later vestiges but nowhere near the very stylized look often used; no more so than the look of modern armies to how they looked 1000 years before. That same evolution or a different (to OTL) but realistic aesthetic evolution would have impacted the Roman world as well. They would also have been influenced by their neighbors.
 
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Eh some anachronistic stuff can be acceptable so long as it is still functional.

Also imagining alternative armours with more high-empire inspiration could be a worth while pursuit. Both Mongols and Samurai continued using and improving laminar armour for over a thousand years after the Lorica Segmentata fell out of use, so it's not inherently a dead end.
 
Eh some anachronistic stuff can be acceptable so long as it is still functional.

Also imagining alternative armours with more high-empire inspiration could be a worth while pursuit. Both Mongols and Samurai continued using and improving laminar armour for over a thousand years after the Lorica Segmentata fell out of use, so it's not inherently a dead end.
By no means am I saying there cannot be a rule of cool. But it definitely needs to be dressing for the nuts and bolts, unless it is pure fun and fantasy.

The European armor that evolved OTL is likely the same nuts and bolts that would evolve with a surviving Western Rome because it was already evolving. It can look more Roman but it would be the evolution of armor in reaction to current battlefield technologies, needs and concerns.


The big, big question in any surviving Western Rome scenario needs to be: are you changing history centuries before the fall or closer to the fall. The forms and fashions could be different with an earlier POD. But there would still need to be recognition of the shift from the Ancient world to an alternative Medieval period.

For that matter, it also needs to check bad assumptions. Western Rome didn't explode spectacularly; it petered out gradually to all its stresses until it was no longer Rome. The Middle Ages for that matter weren't a time of failure and apocalypse, but an evolution. That may play into the myth of Rome as looking like Ancient Rome in the 5th century and being suddenly destroyed by Orc hordes of Germans who made a Mad Max landscape for centuries. If Western Rome survives, it is going to look and evolve into something recognizably Medieval.
 
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I'm starting to like a scenario not of a Rome that avoided the Crisis of the Third Century or a
Rome where 475 AD fall didn't happen, but a Rome where there was a later restoration from Constantinople. In this world, it is possible that the Western collapse would not be looked at as an end but rather another story in a long history of Rome; a temporary but defining event that Rome continued despite. This would also place Constantinople in a position to restore a healthy empire in the West, without the burdens of upkeep of a failing empire but creation of a new one out of the old. The Western Empire would be something old yet new.

 
Rome where 475 AD fall didn't happen, but a Rome where there was a later restoration from Constantinople. In this world, it is possible that the Western collapse would not be looked at as an end but rather another story in a long history of Rome; a temporary but defining event that Rome continued despite. This would also place Constantinople in a position to restore a healthy empire in the West, without the burdens of upkeep of a failing empire but creation of a new one out of the old. The Western Empire would be something old yet new
yeah it would be intresting for justinian pod in my case Byzantine italy has lasted 300 years which already has a lot of impact no HRE but then again even if a justinian Pod africa and italy are already healthy since going for Gaul would be a meat grinder
 
I agree re: Western Rome looking medieval in time. But would it resemble (with the usual butterflies AND regionalisms of course) say, medieval Italy the most - or northern or southern Italy? Occitania? Aragon?
 
For that matter, it also needs to check bad assumptions. Western Rome didn't explode spectacularly; it petered out gradually to all its stresses until it was no longer Rome. The Middle Ages for that matter weren't a time of failure and apocalypse, but an evolution. That may play into the myth of Rome as looking like Ancient Rome in the 5th century and being suddenly destroyed by Orc hordes of Germans who made a Mad Max landscape for centuries. If Western Rome survives, it is going to look and evolve into something recognizably Medieval.
Which brings up another point of emphasis: Ostrogothic Italy was in everything but official name, a continuation of the Roman state in Italy. You would be hard pressed in the late 5th early 6th centuries to find many Romans in Italy who would say they were not living within the Roman Empire. Ironically, it's for Justinian's own propaganda purposes that Ostrogothic Italy starts appearing as this separate barbarian kingdom that needs reconquest like Vandal Africa. And it's that propaganda that plants the seed in the historical record from which we eventually get the consensus date of "The Western Roman Empire fell in 476."
 
yeah it would be intresting for justinian pod in my case Byzantine italy has lasted 300 years which already has a lot of impact no HRE but then again even if a justinian Pod africa and italy are already healthy since going for Gaul would be a meat grinder
We could get whacky with the convolutions: a restored Western Emperor, the Eastern Emperor and a "Roman King of the Germans" as designated by the emperor or whatever authority said person ordains as legitimately with varying degrees for what that means.
 
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