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Thread: What if Carthage Had Defeated Rome?

  1. #1
    Wyckyd_Sceptre

    What if Carthage Had Defeated Rome?

    I've heard military historians debate whether Hannibal really could have moved on Rome after Cannae. It seems as though he had secured some alliances with regional powers and Rome was vulnerable. But for whatever reason he didn't, which of course led to his final defeat at Zama.

    How different would the world have been? Would we be living under an African empire? Of course the Gauls would have likely benefitted from a Carthaginian victory as well.

  2. #2
    Latherty

    Re: What if Carthage Had Defeated Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyckyd_Sceptre View Post
    I've heard military historians debate whether Hannibal really could have moved on Rome after Cannae. It seems as though he had secured some alliances with regional powers and Rome was vulnerable. But for whatever reason he didn't, which of course led to his final defeat at Zama.

    How different would the world have been? Would we be living under an African empire? Of course the Gauls would have likely benefitted from a Carthaginian victory as well.
    Interesting....the renaissance in North Africa?

    Of course, it is so far back, its very difficult to say. But I would have expected the Aegean city states to remain outside Carthage's effective ruling reach, thereby maintaining a separate and rival power. Egypt could have gone to either side. Christianity would have remained a back-water religion without the Roman rule of Isreal to catalyst its spread...

  3. #3
    glad

    Re: What if Carthage Had Defeated Rome?

    Why Hannibal did not marched on Rome after Cannae? He was not so powerful to put Rome under a long siege!
    Afterall Hannibal was not so popular about Carthaginian elite, more interested in reaching commercial advantage than fitghting a total war against Rome.
    Hannibal did not win , because was not allowed to do!

  4. #4
    tiercel

    Re: What if Carthage Had Defeated Rome?

    If Carthage had given more direct support and earlier to Hannibal, it could have very easily been a different story. As it was, after Cannae, Hannibal was not in a position to directly reduce the walled city of Rome since he didn't have the siege engines to do it.

    Settling in for a siege when you don't control the surrounding countryside is a Very Bad Idea -- sure, Cannae was enough to make some of the Italian cities swing toward Hannibal, but too much of Italy was still opposed to Hannibal (or at least fence-sitting) for him to be secure in trying to encircle Rome and just sit.

    If Hannibal had tried to settle in for a siege (and had had the supplies to do so), he would have faced an accelerated version of what actually happened over the next span of years -- the Roman's famed "Fabian" strategy. You don't fight Hannibal, you take away his support structure. If Hannibal nails his own feet to the ground trying to besiege a location, all his would-be allies are vulnerable to terrible Roman retribution.

    Carthage's problem is that it saw Punic War II: The Sequel as primarily being a war about Spain (Iberia), and Hannibal's expedition as a convenient way to get turn a troublesome fellow into a useful distraction. The more Hannibal could tie up or kill Roman legions at home, the easier the war in Spain would be. If Carthage had realized that a full-scale invasion of Italy proper in support of Hannibal's audacious successes would end the war much more permanently than they originally imagined, who knows what the consequences could have been.

    We would have been less likely to see a literal Mediterranean-spanning empire in that timeframe, more likely an increasingly powerful Carthaginian hegemony. The further Hellenization of Europe under the eagles of Rome would, of course, not have taken place, but a renewed Carthage would have found itself increasingly at odds with Alexander's successors in modern-day Greece, Egypt, and the near-East.

    Given that Carthage was essentially erased from the Earth after Punic War III: The Cleansing, we don't have detailed information on the culture that might have influenced, absorbed, or been absorbed by one of the remaining Hellenic lines. It is very likely that the disparate Greek empires would have persisted longer without Rome and that Greek influence and culture would have survived to the modern day -- but not with the penetration into Gaul, Iberia, and even Brittania that it reached under Rome.

    Would the Seleucid Empire have ever spawned a Byzantium holding the might of Greek culture even during the advent of Islam and the rise of the Turks? Without a world empire to propagate it, would Christianity have ever taken root in the global consciousness, or would it have remained a minor regional sect? With no or little Christianity and no Byzantium, the Crusades would likely disappear from history.

    Certainly our languages would be greatly changed. Romance languages would likely hardly exist, and the Latin influence on the hodgepodge that would become English would be largely expunged. Greek would be a more likely basis language -- assuming that it survived the massive Islamic expansions of the 7th and 8th centuries, with no bulwark of an Eastern Roman Empire. (Who knows what would have been in place then, even assuming that Islam was still founded in the same time and place in much the same way.)

    If Carthage had achieved anything like Roman dominance over the Mediterranean basin, whatever of it survived into the 7th century would probably have been more likely to propagate Muslim influence than to resist it, I might imagine. Unless, of course, the dominance was so complete that a powerful 7th century Carthage stood as a mighty and early block to Islamic expansion. (In this case, Christianity might have survived as a world religion after all, through a Carthaginian Empire rather than a Roman one.)

    Let's just say... it's a mighty big "what if." I'm sure there are probably some alternate-history/counterfactual enthusiasts who have delved into such subject matter at length, given the delicacy by which Rome's existence dangled for that span of years when Hannibal marched back and forth across the Italian peninsula. I wouldn't mind hearing more speculation here, for that matter....

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  1. 24th May 2012, 04:29 AM
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