Rome Never Goes East: Which Successor State Triumphs?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by DominusNovus, Sep 10, 2019 at 6:07 PM.

?

Who wins?

  1. Antigonid Makedon

    9 vote(s)
    9.4%
  2. Ptolemaic Egypt

    19 vote(s)
    19.8%
  3. Seleukid Persia

    56 vote(s)
    58.3%
  4. None

    9 vote(s)
    9.4%
  5. Other

    3 vote(s)
    3.1%
  1. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

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    Let us assume, for the moment, that the Hellenistic states are able to continue their fights among themselves for supremacy, without Rome, Carthage, or another comparable state coming in from the west and upending the whole apple cart. Its the Ptolemies, Antigonids, Seleucids, or one of the smaller states, duking it out.

    Who is best positioned to achieve hegemony or better?
     
  2. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    Is this a discussion of who is best to do so or who will? Those are completely separate discussions.
     
  3. snerfuplz Liveral Fascist

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    I think it depends on which state would service Rome's interest best. After all even before the Roman armies were moving East the Roman Senate was already dictating policy among the successor kingdoms
     
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  4. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    Had the Seleucids performed well in the east and not lost its largest regions, it would not be so feeble to Roman interests... The Seleucids had nearly in otl revived a sort of Greco-Babylonian ethos and built the foundation for an extremely stable and well managed empire. Instead, they did the opposite...
     
  5. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    I mean, it's hard to speculate on what the Seleucids would have been like without the Roman threat. By 190 BC they were clearly the preeminent power in the Hellenistic World.
     
  6. raharris1973 Well-Known Member

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    Remove Rome from the equation for a moment. Was Carthage ever going to try to interfere with or dominate the Hellenistic successor states?
     
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  7. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    The only ones really in the running here are the Seleukids. Egypt was imploding by the end of the 3rd century BC after the revolt of Upper Egypt and crushing defeats at the hands of Antiochos III; in the mid 2nd century, his son was crowned king of Egypt in Memphis before a Roman ultimatum got the better of his nerves. Makedon was more of a beefy regional power than a contender for world power; the had their hands full with other regional powers like Pergamon and the Aetolians well before the Romans had any strength in the Greek East. At most, they could be preeminent in the Aegean if the Pact of the Kings to partition the Egyptian empire goes through unhindered. The Seleukids had the strength to conquer Egypt, the wealth of which could, in combination with Seleukid Asia, crush anything in European Greece.

    Not while Rome is contesting their control of the Western Mediterranean. In a Second Latin War scenario, though, where Carthage becomes the dominant power in the West, they very well may if Philip calls in a favor from his ally; Carthage also exported a lot of foodstuffs to the East, judging by the amphorae uncovered at Carthaginian sites, so there were definitely Punic interests in play. A Philip Hannibal alliance war in the east would probably end up being before the Pact of the Kings and the revolt of Egypt, so maybe Antiochos, still smarting from the defeat of Raphia, turns his ambitions to Europe sooner. Agelaus of Naupactus, a prominent Aetolian official, uttered the line in my signature; it was taken as given that whoever won the struggle for supremacy in the West would dominate the East in due time.
     
  8. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

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    The premise of the question is what would have happened if Rome is taken out of the equation. Lets assume Carthage and Rome pretty much knock each other out.
     
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  9. John7755 يوحنا Historical Inquiries

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    Dec 30, 2014
    It is not speculation. Simply maintaining the monumentally constructive and long-lasting political structures that the Seleucids imparted to Iran and Iraq. Prior to moving westward and seeking dominance over the Ptolemaic and Antigonids, the Seleucids had created many innovations and maintained ancient traditions.

    Seleucid rule had created the building blocks of the later Arsacid empire through its system of autonomous noble holdings backed by powerful free cities.

    Meanwhile, the Seleucid emperors began claiming ancient titles such as ‘Regent of Marduk,’ ‘King of the Universe,’ and ‘King of the Lands.’ In a sense, restoring a final Akkadian empire prior to the Arsacid empire. The Seleucids lost much in this regard the more they became staunchly Hellenic and moved westward, grasping at the bygone notion of the Alexandrine Empire. Had the Seleucids stayed eastward, maintained its existing systems and development, we would speak of it as a revival of Akkadian culture mixed with Hellenism and as a new Babylonian dynasty in the Mesopotamian kinglist. It would be likened to a Kassite dynasty of the Bronze Age. In this regard, yes, it is fair to say the Seleucids would not be a lap dog of Rome or its inferior...
     
  10. LostInNewDelhi Anarcho-Shaivist

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    Oct 30, 2014
    Didn't the Seleucids almost overrun the Nile Delta during the 6th Syrian War, only being stopped by Roman intervention on the Ptolemies' behalf? I'm pretty sure the Seleucids can smack the Egyptians around freely if it came to it. The only problem is the Arsacids bearing down on the Seleucids from the other direction, making any victory short-lived.

    Maybe the Antigonids can take the Attalid kingdom and creep back into Anatolia or something.
     
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  11. A Most Sovereign Lady Princess of the Kingdom of Maryland

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    Isn't @Skallagrim doing something on this IIRC?

    Probably the Seleucids, IMO.
     
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  12. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

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    I'm a known proponent of the "Makedon yay!" contingent, on the basis that A) the Seleukids faced multiple major problems on multiple fronts (just as the Antigonids did), and B) the simple POD "No Rome (or anyone else) to spoil the fun" removes or ameliorates many of the issues faced by the Antigonids, but does nothing good for the Seleukids (in the same time-frame, at least). On the contrary, it bolsters their most serious rivals to the West (since without Rome, they don't have to worry about guarding their backs). Thus, I conclude that Makedon is in a strong position, given such a scenario.

    As has been noted, the Seleukids could, in an ATL, have done much better. The problem is that they were "one foot in the West, one foot in the East". And this tripped them up, leading to, ah, amputation of the right leg, and that was it for them. No matter what else, their balancing act made it difficult to commit fully to either Western or Eastern affairs. I don't see them becoming hegemon of the Eastern Med unless the perform very capably against any threats from the East (consistently and from an early stage). It's certainly possible, but it's a different POD.

    If the POD is simple "no interference from the West", then Makedon doesn't get screwed over. After a few stumbles, it was well on its way to becoming the undisputed power in its direct neighbourhood (which is why Rome, the Seleukids, and a whole bunch of minor local states all moved against the Antigonids). Seleukid involvement was mostly indirect. Sans Rome, Makedon mops up the minor powers, and we are left with an Eastern Med that features Makedon, Aigyptos and the Seleukid Empire, plus some second-rate powers that may have serious potential. (Looking at you, Pontos.)

    Aigyptos was in a death spiral, and Makedon and the Seleukids would both be looking to be the hungry vulture there. The fact of the matter is that Makedon would probably be a less direct overlord -- more of a distant suzerain -- and I give Makedon the best chances to basically fill Rome's shoes here. Additionally, this would be after Makedon consolidated its own neighbourhood, while tensions for the Seleukids are only increasing over time. Makedon would be relatively free to act, while the Seleukids would be seriously exposing themselves in the East by aggressively commiting to substantial operations in the West.

    If its trajectory is anything like in OTL, I'd say the runner-up is actually Pontos, which can play its card right and come out on top. It's still ascendant for the longest time, and not ready to take on the bigger players. But when the end draws near, it may well seek to play the Antigonids and the Seleukids against each other, exhausting both before pouncing on its own behalf.


    tl;dr -- Makedon's chances are often severely under-rated, because people don't care to notice how much Rome's involvement screwed them over. The Seleukids have a built-in weakness of the same nature (the "two-front problem"), but solving it requires an alternative POD. This means that removing Rome gives Makedon the edge. Aigyptos, meanwhile, is on the decline. Pontos is on the ascent, so look there for a cool dark horse. None of the other minor powers really have what it takes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 1:10 PM
  13. TyranicusMaximus Irrational Statist

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    Egypt being in a "death spiral" was not the case in 270, or 240, or even 217. You really need to define your timeframe.
     
  14. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

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    Considering that we're talking about Roman involvement in the Eastern med, or lack thereof, and considering that I'm particularly talking about the effects this had on Makedon, it should be pretty clear that I'm most certainly not talking about 270 BC or even 240 BC. (After all, Rome hadn't even finished its conquest of Megale Hellas until 212 BC, and only got involved in the First Makedonian War the year after that-- making a crucial difference, in my opinion.)

    In any event, it would be pretty silly to call Aigyptos under Ptolemaios III Euergetes a dying state. That said... the seeds for the reversal were already planted during that age of success. I will dispute your claim about 217 BC. Ptolemaios IV had assumed the throne three years earlier, and he was not cut out of the same stern stuff as his father. I assume you mean to refer to Raphia by choosing 217 in particular, but note that this was A) a success in spite of the trend of his reign, and B) further related to the fundamental problems that the Seleukids were facing, as I pointed out in my earlier post. Bottom line: after the death of Ptolemaios III, Aiguptos was on a straight-line trajectory downward, and the causes weren't incidental. Reversing this trend is possible, but requires contrivances far beyond the POD under discussion here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 1:09 PM
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  15. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    Aug 13, 2015
    Makedon is a bit like the Prussia of the ancient world; it's technically a great power, but this status rests on a very narrow foundation. It had a core phalanx of ~16-21,000 men, some of the stoutest fighters in the Mediterranean, putting them just barely in the same weight class as the other Hellenistic monarchs (at Raphia, these were 30,000 and 20/45,000 strong). Their mobilization potential for regional campaigning caps out at 20-30,000 (Sellasia, Cynoscephalae); the larger army at Pydna was the result of their garrison commitments being stripped away by force at the hands of the Romans. If they consolidate all of European Greece, maybe they can match Alexander's 50,000 man invasion force. Egypt after 204 was on death's door. If my envelope math is in the right ballpark, even netting half the revenue of the Egyptian kingdom would give Antiochos the funding to maintain a fleet of at least one hundred cataphract vessels, a royal army for offensive operations of 70,000, and a defensive army of 40,000, in addition to numerous garrisons and light vessels.

    The Seleukids can stop Makedonia from subjugating the minor Greek states in its neighborhood (if they can't contain Makedon themselves), but Makedon can't stop the Seleukids from conquering Egypt and Cyprus; only the Romans after the Punic Wars could do that. Once Egypt is a Seleukid province, no eastern state can stand against Antiochos's wealth and power. Even an Aegean consolidated under Makedon would not be able to undertake a major strategic offensive against the Seleukid core territories once this once accomplished. A major battle fleet based in Ephesus would threaten the entire Makedonian coastline with a descent by 20,000 marines; I think it's unlikely that Makedon would be able to undertake offensive operations in Asia with its available manpower without leaving the coastline too vulnerable. A Seleukid-Baktrian alliance would be able to keep the Parthians in check if Antiochos undertook an offensive in Europe, compensating for the inability to use naval power.
     
  16. StevenIronside Well-Known Member

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    Im a big fan of the Ptolemys but for them tk auctually stand a chance you need a huge reversal of their kingship, u need warrior kings instead of weak kings ruled by their advisors, egypt is a strong kingdom in this time a few greater kings and the Kingdom could have really been successful
     
  17. dandan_noodles Well-Known Member

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    I think it's more complex than that. Ptolemy IV did after all personally lead his phalanx in the victory of Raphia; dying when he did, his successor being only a child, was probably more significant than his faults while actively ruling. Rather, it's Egypt's basic strategic situation that's the real cause for concern. They have a powerful sworn enemy in the north who they can't defeat without mobilizing the indigenous population in great numbers, but doing that can spark revolts.
     
  18. Chrispi Byzantine Logothete

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    The argumentative nature of the Greeks was (and remains) both their blessing and their curse. That’s why their superior culture fell to the Romans. (Of course, the Greeks ruled the Roman Empire for even longer than the Romans themselves! Funny thing, that.)
     
  19. Tonifranz Well-Known Member

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    What's even funnier was that the Greeks became Romans, and those same Greeks would be offended of being called Greeks because it meant pagan! So the Romans continued ruling the empire even as they spoke the Greek language.
     
  20. yourworstnightmare Trubbelmakare

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    The Big Blue Blob.