Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top 5 Alternate Histories of Rome

Guest post by Jordan Harbour.

Things could have turned out very differently. Rome’s path didn’t have to end with its sack in the 5th century. It could have industrialized, become a locked down military state or burned its star far before the traditional date of its collapse. Here are some possible alternate histories of Rome:

Alternate History of Rome 1: Hannibal Marches on Rome

After the battle of Cannae in 216BC, the Romans are shattered. Hannibal marches on the city and sends a request back to Carthage for siege engines. His request is granted. Within a matter of months, Rome drops its gates and the city is sacked but not destroyed. Italy becomes a Carthaginian province and its legions signal the new crack mercenaries at the empire’s core.

Alternate History of Rome 2: Julius Caesar Lives

Julius Caesar is never murdered. With his power secured at home, Caesar turns his boundless energies on new designs. For a time, Syria becomes the centre of the world with the legions of Rome massing to its frontiers. Mesopotamia and Babylonia fall under the eagle. The Parthians march to battle and are defeated. Caesar mops up the disparate territories and completes his dream to follow in the footsteps of Alexander.

Alternate History of Rome 3: Commodus Dies

The infamous son of Marcus Aurelius dies in a wrestling match. The emperor passes the purple to his very able Praetorian Prefect, Patenus. This 6th Good Emperor continues the war with the German tribes and extends the border to the edge of modern Poland. The Germans integrate into the empire and play an integral role in resisting Huns in the fifth century.

Alternate History of Rome 4: Diocletian’s Legacy Continues

Inflation caused money to be useless and people had reverted to bargaining. Soldiers worked their whole lives and couldn’t buy the shirts on their backs. Diocletian locked everything down. Every major act in a Roman’s life was dictated by the state. His heirs continued and perfected Diocletian’s iron mandates drawing them into ruthless efficiency. By the time the Huns invaded, the empire they met was a machine.

Alternate History of Rome 5: Constantine is Defeated

The Milvian Bridge is a massacre… for Constantine. Maxentius continues to Rome and Christianity shutters. There never is a Christian emperor and their persecution continues. Peganism remains the dominant if not shaky religion of choice. Plato’s Academy thrives in Constantinople after the fall of the west and many of the works which would have been considered heretical stock the shelves in masterful reprints. The Renaissance comes early in Europe.

Jordan Harbour runs a podcast called the Twilight Histories. With a time travel theme, the show takes you on an adventure in the style of the Twilight Zone and Dan Carlin. Check out the latest podcast.

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