Roman republic collapses in 1st century BC

What if instead of the Roman republic becoming an empire, it collapses into warlordism, separatist countries and foreign invasions?

The POD is during the Caesar's civil wars, that instead of ending in a decisive populares victory, it ends on a stalemate, both Pompey and Caesar dies, and with more casualties in both sides. Italy is ruled by Antony and Africa by the optimates remnants, but they can't defeat each other. Gaul, Hispania, Greece rebels and becomes independent, Egypt becomes free and Asia is invaded by the parthians, all this followed by other invaders, that want to use the chaos, like germanic tribes.

Is this scenario plausible? How things would change? Will another empire unite and rule the mediterranean?
 
Gaul, Hispania, Greece rebels and becomes independent, Egypt becomes free and Asia is invaded by the parthians, all this followed by other invaders, that want to use the chaos, like germanic tribes.
Gaul was pretty pro-Empire at this point; simply put, all the people that could and would seceede had been put in a ditch by Caesar. And he rewarded those tribes that did right by him, so nobody was really chomping at the bits to return to independence.

Ptolemaic Egypt was a moribund state after the 60s BCE. A collapse of Roman power was pretty much guaranteed to take out their dynasty as well. Most likely the Parthians would have conquered Egypt within a few years of this event.

I think you're projecting the events of the Migration period back in time. The Germanic tribes were militarily in no position to invade Roman Gaul, nor had they really much interest in doing that.
 
I think you're projecting the events of the Migration period back in time. The Germanic tribes were militarily in no position to invade Roman Gaul, nor had they really much interest in doing that.
Agree. It's why Rome remained on the offensive even after Teutoburg Forest, and in the end the withdrawal from Germania was entirely voluntary.
 
How things would change? Will another empire unite and rule the mediterranean?
The Republicans get ground to powder between the Parthians and the Caesarians. The former swallows Egypt, Syria and the Eastern provinces, while the latter conquers Africa and Greece. You probably still get the big old war between Parthia and Rome once the Caesarians are done cleaning house, just one fought in Greece and Asia Minor rather than Syria and Armenia. The Med doesn't become the Mare Nostrum in this scenario, because the Parthians will definitely use the Egyptian shipyards once they get their hands on them.

You'd still have a Roman Empire, just a smaller and less stable one. Unlike OTL, the Parthians can actually move deep into Rome's economic arteries once the obligatory Roman civil wars start. It basically reverses the power dynamic between the two powers.

Edit: I could see Sextus Pompeius maybe taking control of the Empire once Marcus Antonius kicks the bucket, if he manages to survive long enough and somehow engratiates himself with the Caesarians.
 
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bguy

Donor
The Republicans get ground to powder between the Parthians and the Caesarians. The former swallows Egypt, Syria and the Eastern provinces, while the latter conquers Africa and Greece. You probably still get the big old war between Parthia and Rome once the Caesarians are done cleaning house, just one fought in Greece and Asia Minor rather than Syria and Armenia. The Med doesn't become the Mare Nostrum in this scenario, because the Parthians will definitely use the Egyptian shipyards once they get their hands on them.

The Republicans have a chance if Caesar is killed during the Alexandrine War (which very nearly happened). Gaius Cassius Longinus was in Tarsus (waiting to surrender to Caesar) at the time that Caesar was down in Egypt and once Cassius hears that Caesar is dead, I expect he will put any thought of surrendering on hold and reenter the war. Cassius seems to have had a genuine talent for getting troops to come over to him (IOTL in 43 BC, he got all of the troops stationed in Syria (both the 6 Caesarian legions and the 2 legions of Pompeian rebels) to join him despite having no legal authority over the province), and Caesar's eastern legions (who were mostly made up of former Pompeian troops that came over to Caesar after Pharsalus) seem likely to defect to Cassius once they learn Caesar is dead. (IOTL the legion stationed in Syria mutinied and killed their commander, Sextus Julius Caesar, just on the rumor that Caesar was dead, so it won't take much to get those troops to return to the Pompeian cause.) It's also possible that Tiberius Claudius Nero (the likely Roman commander in Egypt after Caesar is killed) would be willing to align with Cassius. (Nero seems to have either had Optimate sympathies or been a rank opportunist given his OTL support of the assassination of Caesar, so I could easily see him choosing to ally with Cassius.)

If Cassius does subvert the eastern legions (and comes to some sort of accord with Nero), then we can be confident that Rome's eastern client kingdoms will all rally to him as well at which point Cassius will have effective control over Asia Minor, Syria, Judaea and Egypt. I don't expect he'll have much difficulty defeating Pharnaces as Cassius was a decent general. I also think Cassius has a good chance of coming to an understanding with the Parthians since they seem to have respected Cassius after his successful defense of Syria against them. (It's notable that during the Liberator Civil War, the Parthians not only did not invade Syria even after Cassius pulled most of the troops out of the east, but actually sent troops to Cassius who fought for him at Phillipi.) The Parthians also might be crafty enough to see that they are better off supporting the weaker side in the Roman civil war (and thus keeping Rome divided) rather than trying to seize Roman territory outright (which guarantees them a future war with Rome regardless of which side wins the Roman civil war.)

If the Republicans control Africa and the east (and have an understanding with the Parthians) then they are pretty well matched against the Caesarians. (And even more so if Spain goes into rebellion against the Caesarians, which could certainly happen since there are a lot of Pompeian loyalists in the province.)
 
The Republicans have a chance if Caesar is killed during the Alexandrine War (which very nearly happened).
I generally assumed that both Caesar and Pompey bite the dirt in Greece, so there would be no significant Roman presence in Egypt and no Alexandrine War. The precise order of events could really change a lot in this instance. Without Roman backing, Cleopatra never becomes Pharaoh and what little she did to strengthen Ptolemaic rule never happens, so Egypt might as well collapse completely at the next big crisis. Which leaves the Roman east quite a bit more vulnerable than it was OTL, especially if Cassius is busy scrambling forces in Anatolia.

If the Republicans control Africa and the east (and have an understanding with the Parthians) then they are pretty well matched against the Caesarians. (And even more so if Spain goes into rebellion against the Caesarians, which could certainly happen since there are a lot of Pompeian loyalists in the province.)
I don't think the Reps actually have enough power to storm Italy though, since the Caesarians can still use its essentially infinite manpower as well as troops from Gaul to bolster their forces. And so long as they control Rome, the Caesarians will be perceived as the "legitimate" SPQR. Hispania may get partitioned between the two sides, or the Caesarians convince the Republicans to concede the peninsula in exchange for peace.

Imo the final solution may be something where Marcus Antonius is made Dictator in the West and Cassius becomes Dictator in the East. I'm not sure what happens with the Senate in this scenario. Cue power struggles within both factions.
 

bguy

Donor
I generally assumed that both Caesar and Pompey bite the dirt in Greece, so there would be no significant Roman presence in Egypt and no Alexandrine War. The precise order of events could really change a lot in this instance. Without Roman backing, Cleopatra never becomes Pharaoh and what little she did to strengthen Ptolemaic rule never happens, so Egypt might as well collapse completely at the next big crisis. Which leaves the Roman east quite a bit more vulnerable than it was OTL, especially if Cassius is busy scrambling forces in Anatolia.

Arsinoe seemed pretty capable though, so Ptolemaic Egypt could do well under her.

(Of course it's also possible that a Cleopatra who's been driven from Alexandria (again) will go to Cassius and convince him to back her, so Cleopatra may still end up in power even if it happens a few years later than IOTL.)

I don't think the Reps actually have enough power to storm Italy though, since the Caesarians can still use its essentially infinite manpower as well as troops from Gaul to bolster their forces. And so long as they control Rome, the Caesarians will be perceived as the "legitimate" SPQR. Hispania may get partitioned between the two sides, or the Caesarians convince the Republicans to concede the peninsula in exchange for peace.

Agreed that storming Italy would be difficult. (It's also questionable whether King Juba of Numidia will commit his forces outside of Africa and without his troops the Republicans are a lot weaker.) Probably the Republicans best strategy would be to just try and seize Sicily and Sardinia . They may need to cut a deal with Arsinoe to have the naval strength to do this, but if the Republicans can take and hold Sicily and Sardinia then they are in a good position to starve the Caesarians in Italy. (Basically running Sextus Pompey's OTL playbook but from a much stronger position.)

Imo the final solution may be something where Marcus Antonius is made Dictator in the West and Cassius becomes Dictator in the East. I'm not sure what happens with the Senate in this scenario. Cue power struggles within both factions.

It could also end up a three way split with Antonius ruling in the west, Cassius ruling in the east, and a rump Republican state holding Africa.
 
Arsinoe seemed pretty capable though, so Ptolemaic Egypt could do well under her.
A Ptolemaic Egypt that's doing wells means one that isn't actively collapsing under its own weight in this period. It's difficult to overstate just how incapable this state had become since the days of Ptolemaios, to the point that Caesar was able to conquer Egypt with just 20,000 men, even though Egypt roughly equalled the entire SPQR in population and economic output. When Augustus conquered them, the Ptolemaic state folded in on itself like a lawn-chair, being unable to even organize, much less fight, a defensive war. Perhaps its my Egyptological bias speaking, but Ptolemaic Egypt was a paper tiger too weak to defend even itself, much less provide effective aid to any faction in the Civil War.

Agreed that storming Italy would be difficult. (It's also questionable whether King Juba of Numidia will commit his forces outside of Africa and without his troops the Republicans are a lot weaker.) Probably the Republicans best strategy would be to just try and seize Sicily and Sardinia . They may need to cut a deal with Arsinoe to have the naval strength to do this, but if the Republicans can take and hold Sicily and Sardinia then they are in a good position to starve the Caesarians in Italy. (Basically running Sextus Pompey's OTL playbook but from a much stronger position.)
Doesn't Arsinoe have the same interest as the Parthians, of generally playing the two sides against each other? Sure, she can't openly defy Cassius, but she can drag her feet and make such a mess of things that her fleet doesn't end up doing much of anything. And in the long term, Arsinoe has an interest of keeping the Parthians close as well, since they are the only ones reasonably capable of preventing a Roman annexation of Egypt.

It may also cause some tension among the Reps to ally with the same traitorous dynasty that just murdered Pompey the Great.
It could also end up a three way split with Antonius ruling in the west, Cassius ruling in the east, and a rump Republican state holding Africa.
It may be more useful at this stage to talk about warlords rather than factions. I don't think the Senate has enough clout to actually field legions under the old, Republican system after they've been chased out of Rome and publicly thrown themselves at Pompey's feet. It would likely be something more akin to what happened in 1920s China, with the Senate being "protected" by friendly warlords.

Anthony probably sets up his own, Caesarian Senate back in Rome, while the circle around Cato and Cicero goes to hang out with Cassius at Miletus, probably under some convoluted co-legislative agreement with Anthony. (Btw, though Caesar wasn't willing to declare himself Rex Romanorum, Anthony is fool enough to do just that.)
 

bguy

Donor
Perhaps its my Egyptological bias speaking, but Ptolemaic Egypt was a paper tiger too weak to defend even itself, much less provide effective aid to any faction in the Civil War.

Cleopatra did try to send a fleet of ships to assist the Triumvirate during the Liberator Civil War. (The fleet got turned back by a storm but that the attempt was still made). And of course Cleopatra provided a huge number of ships for the Antonian forces in the War of Actium. Thus even with the weaknesses of the Ptolemaic state it was capable of providing forces that would have been useful in a Roman civil war if properly employed.

Doesn't Arsinoe have the same interest as the Parthians, of generally playing the two sides against each other? Sure, she can't openly defy Cassius, but she can drag her feet and make such a mess of things that her fleet doesn't end up doing much of anything. And in the long term, Arsinoe has an interest of keeping the Parthians close as well, since they are the only ones reasonably capable of preventing a Roman annexation of Egypt.

She may have the same interest in playing them against each other, but Egypt is much more vulnerable to the Romans than Parthia is, so that would be a very dangerous game for her to play. Rome has a track record of coming down very hard on allies that the Romans feel didn't pull their weight (the Romans destroyed the Rhodian economy in retaliation for the Rhodians not providing enough support to Rome in the Third Macedonian War and this despite Rhodes being one of Rome's longest standing allies and the main force that was keeping pirates under control in the Mediterranean.)

It may also cause some tension among the Reps to ally with the same traitorous dynasty that just murdered Pompey the Great.

That's true. Though Arsinoe herself cannot be linked to the murder of Pompey (IIRC she wasn't even in Alexandria when it happened), and she probably earned some good will with the Reps by being the one that took care of Caesar for them. She'll probably have to deliver Pothinus to Roman justice at some point if he hasn't already been killed but that's not necessarily a bad thing for Arsinoe since Pothinus is really her brother's man not hers. (And she's certainly not above killing her brother's advisors as shown by her having General Achillas murdered and replaced with her tutor Ganymedes.)

It may be more useful at this stage to talk about warlords rather than factions. I don't think the Senate has enough clout to actually field legions under the old, Republican system after they've been chased out of Rome and publicly thrown themselves at Pompey's feet. It would likely be something more akin to what happened in 1920s China, with the Senate being "protected" by friendly warlords.

I don't know. The Senate (or more accurately the Optimate diehards in the Senate) was able to raise a large army in Africa even after Pharsalus. They had something like eight legions (plus the Numidians) at Thapsus, so the Senate's ability to raise troops wasn't completely exhausted just yet. (The Optimate army in Africa certainly was very much a Republican army rather than the private army of a warlord as the Republicans actually had a great deal of trouble even sorting out who would even be in command of the army.)


Anthony probably sets up his own, Caesarian Senate back in Rome, while the circle around Cato and Cicero goes to hang out with Cassius at Miletus, probably under some convoluted co-legislative agreement with Anthony. (Btw, though Caesar wasn't willing to declare himself Rex Romanorum, Anthony is fool enough to do just that.)

I can't really see Antony declaring himself king (which would be super unpopular). Antony could be cagey and politic when he had to, and while he's undoubtedly the strongest Caesarian at this point, his position in Italy isn't that secure following the premature death of Caesar in Egypt. He's got mutinous legions that are owed a ton of money and land, riotous urban plebs clamoring for debt relief, a cantankerous Senate (that doesn't particularly like or trust him), and he's certainly going to need the support of powerful governors like Lepidus (in Nearer Spain) and Decimus Brutus (in Gallia Comata) if he's to have any chance of winning the civil war.
 
Cleopatra did try to send a fleet of ships to assist the Triumvirate during the Liberator Civil War. (The fleet got turned back by a storm but that the attempt was still made). And of course Cleopatra provided a huge number of ships for the Antonian forces in the War of Actium. Thus even with the weaknesses of the Ptolemaic state it was capable of providing forces that would have been useful in a Roman civil war if properly employed.
Egypt may have still been able to technically field an army, but it was, imo, in no position to fight any kind of war at all. Once that fleet had been defeated, Egypt spiralled into complete political breakdown, to the point that Alexandria was essentially isolated from the Nomes and a force of a few hundred Arab raiders was able to criple its remaining military forces. If Arsinoe encounters any serious tactical setback, that could easily escalate into a massive domestic crisis which ends up devouring her dynasty. Which would force the Romans to deploy the Legions for an extended peace-keeping mission, resulting in the de-facto annexation of Egypt. Basically, Ptolemaic military aid is a double edged sword that could easily turn into another manpower drain.
That's true. Though Arsinoe herself cannot be linked to the murder of Pompey (IIRC she wasn't even in Alexandria when it happened), and she probably earned some good will with the Reps by being the one that took care of Caesar for them. She'll probably have to deliver Pothinus to Roman justice at some point if he hasn't already been killed but that's not necessarily a bad thing for Arsinoe since Pothinus is really her brother's man not hers. (And she's certainly not above killing her brother's advisors as shown by her having General Achillas murdered and replaced with her tutor Ganymedes.)
True, but I don't think that the Ptolemies will be popular in Rome ever again. I mean even the most charitable interpretation would be that they are a swamp that killed two of Rome's greatest heroes. No matter who you ask, their main man and favorite guy died because they trusted a Ptolemy: Pompey in their gratitude, and Caesar in their competence. The Caesarians would almost certainly use the opportunity to subject the Reps to the same kind of smear campaign that Antony suffered OTL.
I don't know. The Senate (or more accurately the Optimate diehards in the Senate) was able to raise a large army in Africa even after Pharsalus. They had something like eight legions (plus the Numidians) at Thapsus, so the Senate's ability to raise troops wasn't completely exhausted just yet. (The Optimate army in Africa certainly was very much a Republican army rather than the private army of a warlord as the Republicans actually had a great deal of trouble even sorting out who would even be in command of the army.)
I'd attribute the Republican nature of the Optimate army in Africa more to the fact that most of the commanders didn't have the clout to establish themselves as clear voices of authority. As I understand it, a big part of the African theater was the political power of the Scipii, who leveraged the names of their great ancestors to hype up the resistance there and carry some massive recruitment drives. And even then, quite a number of these recruits went over to Caesar once they thought he might win, so I'm in doubt whether the Republic was really raising those troops or their specific commanders were.
I can't really see Antony declaring himself king (which would be super unpopular). Antony could be cagey and politic when he had to, and while he's undoubtedly the strongest Caesarian at this point, his position in Italy isn't that secure following the premature death of Caesar in Egypt. He's got mutinous legions that are owed a ton of money and land, riotous urban plebs clamoring for debt relief, a cantankerous Senate (that doesn't particularly like or trust him), and he's certainly going to need the support of powerful governors like Lepidus (in Nearer Spain) and Decimus Brutus (in Gallia Comata) if he's to have any chance of winning the civil war.
I'm personally convinced that OTL Antony was always angling for this from the day that Caesar died, but I agree with your analysis that he was too smart to do that while in a vulnerable position. Whether he does that really hinges on his success militarily, I think. Or he could embrace this idea as a last ditch effort when backed against the wall, and hope that the hard-nosed authoritarian approach buys him sympathies from Caesar's veterans.
 

bguy

Donor
If Arsinoe encounters any serious tactical setback, that could easily escalate into a massive domestic crisis which ends up devouring her dynasty.

Wouldn't Arsinoe get a big boost in legitimacy for having repulsed a Roman invasion? That should make her regime much more durable than your typical Ptolemaic ruler. (After all she's the first Ptolemy to win a war against a foreign enemy in nearly two centuries.)

True, but I don't think that the Ptolemies will be popular in Rome ever again. I mean even the most charitable interpretation would be that they are a swamp that killed two of Rome's greatest heroes. No matter who you ask, their main man and favorite guy died because they trusted a Ptolemy: Pompey in their gratitude, and Caesar in their competence. The Caesarians would almost certainly use the opportunity to subject the Reps to the same kind of smear campaign that Antony suffered OTL.

Maybe, though the Caesarians also might find it more than a little embarrassing to talk about Egypt seeing how Caesar lost a war and his life there against a teenage girl. And if we assume that Caesar died during his OTL failed attack on the island of Pharos (which is the most likely point for him to be killed in the Alexandrine War) the Caesarians can't even claim that they lost in Egypt due to an act of treachery, since Caesar's death occurred in a battle where the Romans were beaten fair and square.

I'd attribute the Republican nature of the Optimate army in Africa more to the fact that most of the commanders didn't have the clout to establish themselves as clear voices of authority. As I understand it, a big part of the African theater was the political power of the Scipii, who leveraged the names of their great ancestors to hype up the resistance there and carry some massive recruitment drives. And even then, quite a number of these recruits went over to Caesar once they thought he might win, so I'm in doubt whether the Republic was really raising those troops or their specific commanders were.

That's interesting though three of the Republican legions in Africa were raised by its provincial governor, Publius Attius Varus, in 49 BC (long before Metellus Scipio was in-country), and fifteen of the cohorts in their army were Republican troops that had been stationed in Greece and were brought over to Africa by Marcus Porcius Cato after Pharsalus, so at least half of the Republican African army had no connection to the Scipii.
 
Gaul, Hispania, Greece rebels and becomes independent, Egypt becomes free and Asia is invaded by the parthians, all this followed by other invaders, that want to use the chaos, like germanic tribes
Was there a Greek separatist movement IOTL? I doubt the Greeks would rebel; at most maybe a Roman general would claim to be the leader of a "free" Greece and would rebel during the civil war. I could definitely see Mithridate's descendants conquer Asia and Greece however. Alternatively, Greece could be "conquered" by Egypt or perhaps the Parthians instead.
 
Wouldn't Arsinoe get a big boost in legitimacy for having repulsed a Roman invasion? That should make her regime much more durable than your typical Ptolemaic ruler. (After all she's the first Ptolemy to win a war against a foreign enemy in nearly two centuries.)
You're right, but only for the Greek part of her population. The Egyptians didn't really care all that much about the Ptolemies' geopolitical fortunes, they just wanted to not be second class citizens in their own country to what they perceived as barbarians. As I understand it, the major reason for Ptolemaic weakness, aside from the self-reinforcing spiral of bad rulers, was their inability to effectively leverage Egypt's vast ressources. This is a problem that they can't solve unless they systemically change how their government works, but doing that would risk antagonizing their Greek subjects and triggering a civil war against their own political base.

(Egypt had something like 7 mil people in it at this point; that Arsinoe can muster fewer troops in defense of her country than Ramesses II did a millennium earlier is instructive.)

Maybe, though the Caesarians also might find it more than a little embarrassing to talk about Egypt seeing how Caesar lost a war and his life there against a teenage girl. And if we assume that Caesar died during his OTL failed attack on the island of Pharos (which is the most likely point for him to be killed in the Alexandrine War) the Caesarians can't even claim that they lost in Egypt due to an act of treachery, since Caesar's death occurred in a battle where the Romans were beaten fair and square.
If he dies in the attack on Pharos, then Cleopatra would have been with him for some time. And I think it's quite likely that she ends up taking the fall for Caesar's death, because she was one of the main reasons why Caesar chose to involve himself in Egyptian politics - the other being the murder of Pompey, but as you have pointed out, Arsinoe had nothing to do with that. It's not a big stretch for the Caesarians to say that she's responsible for Caesar's death, even though she didn't actually try to do him harm.
That's interesting though three of the Republican legions in Africa were raised by its provincial governor, Publius Attius Varus, in 49 BC (long before Metellus Scipio was in-country), and fifteen of the cohorts in their army were Republican troops that had been stationed in Greece and were brought over to Africa by Marcus Porcius Cato after Pharsalus, so at least half of the Republican African army had no connection to the Scipii.
I think you have the right in this. However, I'd still contend that at least the Republic's perceived ability to protect itself without resorting to the help of military strongmen would be hurt by the conflict, even if it does end in a victory for the Republican camp.
 
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