WI commodus dies in infancy?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by SpaceRome, Feb 5, 2019.

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  1. SpaceRome Well-Known Member

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    What if marcus aurelius' natural heir dies in early childhood, perhaps at the same time as his brother? who would succeed marcus aurelius instead? Would the empire be any better or worse as a result of his absence?
     
  2. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    The major candidates would the husbands of Aurelius's daughters.
    Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus, or Marcus Peducaeus Plautius Quintillus. Both have close dynastic ties, and from what we modestly know of them, were well regarded and capable.
    Whether it makes any real difference long term is debatable.
     
  3. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    And was Commodus really all that bad?

    His playing at being an amateur gladiator irritated the Senators, but ws the general population of he RE any worse off under him than under Aurelius?
     
  4. mjwebb76 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the idea that one of the husbands of the daughters would become Emperor. I think the key question is do you think that they would continue the Marcomani war and would this be a good thing for the Empire? My answers incidentally are yes and probably. I think there is at least some chance it butterflies away the crisis of the third century.
     
  5. Sertorius126 Badass guerrilla fighter

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    He was weak willed, indecisive, and despotic, constantly following the whims and wishes of the favorite man of the moment, while neglecting state affairs. Marcus Aurelius was strong and effective, central authority was robust under his rule, and the empire was well defended and even expanding when he was at its helm. So yeah, Commodus really was that bad compared to his father, as a man and as a ruler.
     
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  6. Sertorius126 Badass guerrilla fighter

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    We don’t really know that. Blame for the crisis shouldn’t be ascribed to Commodus, for all his flaws. Considering that candidate for the throne would have likely been Pompeianus, then yes, the Marcomannic war would have probably continued.
     
  7. mjwebb76 Well-Known Member

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    I agree we cannot know that the crisis would have been butterflied away. However, I do think there is some chance. The basic argument is that Commodus's wretched leadership ultimately causes his overthrow and the ascension of Septimius Severus to the throne. This in turn establishes the notion of military leaders becoming Emperors which creates real problems post 235.
     
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  8. Sertorius126 Badass guerrilla fighter

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    Well, the notion of military leaders becoming emperors was always there since 68, if not earlier. What caused the crisis was the failure of the Severan dynasty to provide strong and efficient leadership after Septimius, amongst other things, rather than Septimius himself seizing power.

    But yeah, Commodus dying could, potentially, butterfly away the crisis, if his heir establishes a solid dynasty.
     
  9. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    But a dynasty, almost by definition, will not be solid.

    The Five Good Emperors were a freak result of getting four in a row with no son. That couldn't go on forever, and once it starts going father to son, it's just a matter of time before you get a wrong 'un.
     
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  10. Sertorius126 Badass guerrilla fighter

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    Sure, I’m not saying the dyansty’s supposed to be strong in its entirety, but I mean, would it be too much to ask for two or three decent emperors in a row that wouldn’t die young? That was entirely possible. And, in a way, it happened, since emperors in the second century were all related, save for Hadrian and Antoninus. Nerva doesn’t count, he was just there as Trajan’s placeholder.
     
  11. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    They'd already had more decent emperors in a row than at any other time before or after. Like I said, that period was a fluke, and the only question was when it would end.
     
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  12. Byzantine fanatic Pasha of the Rumistan beylik

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    We never get to see this: