The Greeks of Bactria: An Alternate History of Greco-Bactria

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Alpha_North, Dec 21, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: 1. A Taste of True Glory

    Alpha_North Emperor of The Golden State

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    I. A Taste of True Glory

    "A kingdom being born of a man's death, A kingdom made great of an army's slaughter." - Panaetolus, Commander under Antiochus III
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    The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (~200BC)

    The Kingdom of Greco-Bactria had been formed by Diodotus I, the governor of Bactria. Since the days under the rule of the Achaemenid Empire, Bactria had surprisingly formed a Hellenic culture, presumably from Greek exiles. Because of this, Bactria had grown a distinct Greco-Bactrian identity and when Antiochus II, ruler of the the Seleucids, died, Diodotus would declare himself "King of Greco-Bactria". Being so far and having the Seleucid Empire stuck in a bitter conflict west, the Greco-Bactrian kings were left on their own devices until the rule of King Euthydemus I.

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    King Euthydemus I of Greco-Bactria

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    King Antiochus III of the Seleucid Empire
    Euthydemus had overthrown Diodotus II, son of Diodotus I, and made himself King of Greco-Bactria, being the founder of the Euthydemid dynasty. He would conquer a few territories like parts of Parthia and would take the city of Alexandria Eschate, literally meaning "Alexandria the Farthest". This seamless conquest would soon end however with the ascension of a Seleucid king. Antiochus III was ambitious and youthful. With his ascension to the throne, a desire to reclaim eastern lands of the empire was formed. In 208 BC, he would defeat the Parthians in battle, soon taking their cities and subduing the kingdom, although they would manifest into a nominal territory at best and would only be as loyal as the number of soldiers on their doorstep. When news was brought to Euthydemus in Bactra, the capital of the kingdom*, that Parthia had been neutralized as a threat, Euthydemus levied over 10,000 fully-armored cataphracts. He would march his force to the River Arius, the modern-day Hari River, where he would wait for the Seleucid king to arrive.

    While the Greco-Bactrian army waited during the day, Antiochus had learned that Euthydemus's forces resided in a nearby settlement at night. So in the cover of darkness, he sneaked some of his army, 2,000 cavalry and 10,000 peltasts, across the river, becoming quite tired and worn down. When morning came, Euthydemus realized this and sallied his cataphracts and charged the enemy line. The infantry had yet to organize themselves, so Antiochus charged in as well with his 2,000 cavalry to buy the infantry time to form up ranks. The Battle of the Arius had begun.

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    Charge of Euthydemus's cataphracts

    "Charge!" Antiochus bellowed, as our horse's trots turned into gallops.

    My eyes tired from the night's crossing, but all was worth it for glory. I could see the heat-skewed line of the Bactrians, and I was filled with excitement. I was ready to clean my blade with blood once more. The howls of my comrades reinvigorated my soul, although my body was still adjusting. I looked at the grass grass, I looked at my wood-brown stallion, and then I looked upon the enemy, and we collided. The sound was like millions of thunderstorms striking upon the same tree.

    Battle would ensue, as my comrades were cut down and we cut down them as well. We continued the overall slaughter of both sides, until I heard a huge crash. I turned my head to see two lines of Bactrian cavalry at our flanks. The force had not wished to decimate us, it wished to buy their allies time to maneuver, and maneuver they did. I instantly knew what the unorganized peltasts were facing as well Two walls of cavalry at the flanks, with the only escape being the river. Some of us turned to meet the new line of enemies. I and a few of my comrades, however, was called to attempt an escort for Antiochus's escape. We found him on the ground, horse dead, and a spear near the king. His mouth were filled with bloodied gaps, as his stomach was gouged, blood painting his armor. Me and another comrades approached him, trying to get him on a horse, but at that time...he was already dead.

    "Antiochus is dead!" a man wailed, as he escaped for my view.

    In a near instant, I saw men try to flee, only to be cut down. I jumped back on my horse and I tried to think. I looked upon the northern line, our first contact with the enemy.

    "We must break out!" I barked, as I pointed to the front line of fighting. "Attack there!"

    We tried to break out at the northern line of the enemy. We could nearly see escape, my heart pounding. Then, a spear lodged into my horse, and I fell into the battleground, surrounded by corpses and steeds. I dodged my comrades' horses, as I tried to escape from direct battle. Gallops of horses grazed me, but I continued forward. Against all odds, I made it to the back of the line, and I could clearly see the fleeing infantry, crossing the river, as cavalry cut them down. Then, I turned to see a horse run past, me as I could feel the sudden burn of pain and the nothingness of death.

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    Coinage of Arsaces II

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    Parthian horse archers
    The Seleucids had just faced a large defeat from the Greco-Bactrian army. The unorganized infantry could not effectively fight the cavalry at their flanks, as with the slaughtering of the infantry, the cavalry followed with, including Antiochus III. The remnants of the army tried to flee back to the recently subjugated Parthia, but they found to be not so welcomed, as Parthian horse archers constantly harassed them. The cities that had been recently conquered, were put under military supervision until everything was settled, but they soon found their comrades' heads lined up against the city entrances. The Parthians would break away from the Seleucids once more.

    Arsaces II of Parthia would rally the cities and they complied. Soon, a Parthian military force was formed. The Parthians would constantly barrage the army with harassment, until a united force was made by Panaetolus, a surviving commander of the Battle of the Arius. Before he could meet Arsaces in battle however, Queen Mother Laodice, regent for the young King Antiochus IV, would call his forces back to the western side of the Seleucid Empire.

    During that time however, Euthydemus had been reinforcing his army. Infantry and archers joined the ranks of the cavalry. Many of them were battle-hardened and yearned for more. So as Panaetolus's force left the east, the Bactrians would go south to have revenge and another taste of Seleucid blood.

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    *Euthydemus was currently at Tapuria, not Bactra, when Parthia fell. I made Euthydemus reside in Bactra so he could have a chance to gather more men, just that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  2. splashface256 Well-Known Member

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    Dec 15, 2015
    Interesting start!
    Subbed.
     
  3. Samsara123 Well-Known Member

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    Apr 5, 2017
    Hmm do you know the story of the war of the heavenly horses between the Han Dynasty and Alexandria Eschate of Greco Bactrian empire?
     
  4. Goldenarchangel Well-Known Member

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    I see someone has been inspired by Kings and Generals
     
  5. altwere Well-Known Member

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    Shelburne Vt and Titusville Fl
    good start
     
  6. Alexander Helios Pre-Columbian Satan

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    Minor nitpick: I think that Kingdom of Bactria will work better. Greco-Bactrian Kingdom is a term used by later historians.
     
  7. viciosodiego Member

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    Sep 23, 2017
    Greco Bactrian empire, The thousand year empire.
     
  8. A_simple_pilgrim your local crusader

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    Looks interesting, I hope a stronger start might let the bactrians leave a bigger mark
     
  9. Alpha_North Emperor of The Golden State

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    I am afraid I haven't! I'll be sure to check it out.
    Caught me red-handed ;D
    Gotcha, thanks!

    This is by far the most love one of my threads have gotten. Thank you all!
     
  10. Goldenarchangel Well-Known Member

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    Dec 23, 2016
    Kings and generals has a video on that too


    Glad to see I am not the only one who liked the Bactrian Greeks
     
  11. SlyDessertFox Warren/Castro 2020

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    New Jersey, USA
    I never subscribed to a timeline so fast.
     
  12. TC9078 Empire

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    Wawastan
    Watched.
     
  13. darthfanta Offline

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    Smart decision would have been to just sell the horses.
     
  14. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Ooh, this is neat!
     
  15. cmakk1012 Well-Known Member

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    Apr 30, 2012
    Sub-a-dub-dub

    I’ve discussed a lasting Indo-Greek state on here before; I feel like Baktria will be far more challenging thanks to the persistent steppe horde pressure, but you can find a way for them to survive, I’m sure!
     
  16. Samsara123 Well-Known Member

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    Apr 5, 2017
    Like you know make an Alliance with the Han fynasty for troops in exchange the could have bred warhorses for the Han, wouldn’t that be weird if one of Cao Weis armies are made up of Greco Bactrian horsemen(armed like companion cavalry) and phalanxes, the closest warlord during the early three kingdoms were Ma teng who had that area until he lost it(a small fact was Ma teng had a obsession with having as many cavalry as possible)
     
  17. ALF0N53 Well-Known Member

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    Bactria needs a coast. Gotta get them more Greek settlers.
     
  18. Threadmarks: 2. A Thundering of War

    Alpha_North Emperor of The Golden State

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    II. A Thundering of War

    "First, the Bactrians stabbed the Seleucids' stomach. Then, the Parthians shot them in the eyes. Soon, all went for the killing blow." - Strabo, Greek Historian, Geographer, & Philosopher

    While Euthydemus built his forces in Bactria, the men would spread the tale of their King's military genius. His cataphracts, from the battle, would give him the epithet, Euthydemus Kéntauros or Euthydemus "The Centaur". Soon, courtiers of the court would use this title formally and the king would eventually accept it. He would gain other titles in other languages and cultures, the most prominent being from English, where he would be given the title "The Horseman" by later historians. Euthydemus and his men marched first on Alexandria in the Caucasus, which was not located at the Caucasus strangely, but at the entrance of India. The city attempted to prolong a siege so reinforcements arrived, however bribes to a few guards allowed the Greco-Bactrian army to sack the city of what it had and take it. After the Sacking of Alexandria (in the Caucasus), the army moved once more to Alexandria of Arachosia. However, the city was found pillaged and undefended. It seemed that the garrison had went on towards Demetrias, a more defensible position.

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    The Battle of Seleucia Pieria

    While all of this was happening however, the Kingdom of Egypt were caught quite off-guard from the turn of events. Although Ptolemy IV did not wish to advance into the Seleucid Empire, many did, including his sister-wife, Arsinoe III, and his brothers. It soon became such a debated topic between the siblings, that a brother of Ptolemy IV would attempt an assassination on the Pharaoh. Even though it failed, having the brother executed, Ptolemy IV would finally meet his end from his sister-wife, who would poison his drink. Ptolemy V, the two year old son of Ptolemy IV, was expected to succeed his father, but would soon disappear from the annals of history, assumed to have been assassinated as well or forced to flee with a few courtiers. So, the line of succession fell under Alexander, brother of Ptolemy IV, becoming Pharaoh Alexander I of Egypt. Sosibius, the chief minister of Ptolemy IV, would attempt to grow a larger influence over Alexander, but the Pharaoh would soon name Sosibius as the perpetrator of Ptolemy IV's death, fully knowing the truth though, and sending the minister to a prison cell to rot for the rest of his life. As Euthydemus began his siege on Demetrias, Alexander I would win at the Battle of Seleucia Pieria, kick-starting the Fifth Syrian War during the beginning of 207 BC.

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    Coinage of Abdissares, Governor of Sophene
    After the Battle of Seleucia Pieria, Governor Abdissares, of Sophene, which was a territory part of the former Kingdom of Armenia, would see an opportunity to rise up against the Seleucids and make plans to reform the Kingdom of Armenia. He would proclaim himself king, taking in a few Armenian cities that joined his realm. However, it would soon crumble quickly with the Governor of Greater Armenia, another territory of the former Armenian kingdom, who had rebelled as well. As Abdissares proposed that the Governor become his vassal and be granted a marriage alliance, Greater Armenia proposed a confederation between their two states instead. Although Abdissares disagreed and tensions rose, they still worked together. However, their cooperation would end and Abdissares would attempt an assassination, failing. The war between the two would eventually doom them both and the Seleucids would crush the rebels, instating a general in control over the two territories, Artaxias.

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    Siege of Demetrias (207 BC)
    Demetrias was no special city. It had no great walls or great innovations. However, it did have a river. Although the exact location of the city is unknown, many speculate Demetrias was on the River Helmand. With this advantage, troops could be more easily reach the city to have a more united defense against the Bactrians. They gathered whatever nearby soldiers they could gather, even having a Seleucid general, Zariadres, be assigned to lead them. The city hoped to gain support from Herat, a nearby city, but that hope was crushed when Parthian horsemen were able to sack the city, consolidating southern land of their own. With this, Demetrias was left on their own with the men they had. When Euthydemus arrived at the city, soldiers were soon met with constant barrages from archers, forcing the forces more back to make camp. Faced with a minor setback, Euthydemus had troops sneak into the city through the river, attempting to open the gate. Although the attempt failed, it forced the city to close their doors by water, ensuring there would be no more reinforcements and supplies. Euthydemus had men stationed at the river to enforce that idea and soon began building siege towers.

    "Had I heard that only one man would be the failure of me, I would have laughed. I would have thought it to be obvious, for a soldier to kill me off or a king to exile me. To have one man ruin my chances of success. However, I did not think a Centaur scaling a wall would be it." - Zariadres, General under Seleucid Empire
    After much time had passed, the siege towers were done and the attackers approached the city. The siege towers slammed into the walls and Bactrian soldiers flowed out. Casualties grew on both sides, but the Seleucids took more, as archers stationed at the top of the siege towers would fire arrows down upon them. The Bactrians were gaining ground, only to be stopped. A contingent of troops had been at the back to defend in case of a flanking force, but now they were moved to the assaulted wall, stopping the advance. However, Euthydemus had planned for this. When the contingent was conformed to have been relocated, the King ordered his troops to cross the river with siege ladders and scale the wall. The troops did as they were told, and soon, Bactrian soldiers were flowing from the opposite wall. The flanking force entered the city, as well as sandwich the Seleucids fighting at the walls. As the meatgrinder of death continued for the Seleucid soldiers, Zariadres and his men eventually surrendered, with Zariadres captured and ransomed.

    With the capture of Demetrias, the Seleucid Empire attempted to sue for peace. Although Euthydemus planned to continue his campaign, his goal to reach the coast, problems grew for the Bactrian king back at home. A few commanders were caught planning to overthrow their king while he campaigned and reports of Parthian raiders grew in number. The Kingdom of Bactria and the Seleucid Empire agreed that the cities of Alexandria in the Caucasus, Alexandria of Arachosia, and Demetrias would become under the rule of Bactria, as well as a daughter of the former king, Antiochus III, would be promised to Euthydemus's son, Demetrius. So as the campaign finished up, Euthydemus and his troops marched back north to both be praised and to bring order back to the kingdom.
     
  19. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    Aug 4, 2018
    Map pls
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
    Taloc13 and thekingsguard like this.
  20. cmakk1012 Well-Known Member

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    Apr 30, 2012
    The dead butterflies...so many dead butterflies! Why, man, why?

    The accounts of the exploits of the Hellenistic nations are fascinating, though. Keep it up!
     
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