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Old January 4th, 2017, 08:33 PM   #1

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Could Alexander have conquered the Romans at the height of their power?


So let's say, for a purely hypothetical scenario, the Romans were at their level of technological and martial skill around 180 AD, around the time of Aurelius' death, and Alexander had already proven himself as one of the greatest commanders of all time with the Persian and Indian campaigns. So Alexander takes the mighty Macedonian infantry and invades Italy.

Keep in mind there is no Julius Caesar to command the Roman legions, but many people still say the Roman legions were superior to the Greek and Macedonian armies.

What say you on this?

Personally I think that the Romans might just win, since they showed with the Second Punic War that even though they faced one of the greatest commanders of all time and suffered constant crushing defeats, the might of their war machine was such that they kept fighting and would never give up. Another possible negative for the Macedonians was that if Alexander was killed in battle (a fairly likely possibility, since he insisted on fighting in the thick of it every time) they'd pretty much be screwed. One thing that's very impressive about the Roman war machine was that they were perfectly capable of raising multiple great generals and not just relying on one great one. The Macedonians needed Alexander, just like the Carthaginians needed Hannibal, whereas the Romans had proven they could win without relying on just one general.
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Old January 4th, 2017, 09:57 PM   #2
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Not even close. He might win a few battles but Romans don't give up and with much greater resources they are always going to win.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 04:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by WhatAnArtist View Post
So let's say, for a purely hypothetical scenario, the Romans were at their level of technological and martial skill around 180 AD, around the time of Aurelius' death,
I don't think that was the height of Roman power but just passed it, in view of losses incurred during the plague and several years of war in the Danube area.
How about having Alexander fight Trajan c 110 CE?
Assuming Rome has the resources of its Empire the Macedonians are bound to lose in the end.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 04:18 AM   #4

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The point is just this: real history has told us that the empire of Alexander was an episode connected with a particular context and his great skills as commander.

While Rome was a system built to last and to resist also to phases of defeats against other powers.

Alexander would have done well in a first phase, but Rome would have kept on organizing its war machine to annihilate the enemy ... And sooner or later ...
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Old January 5th, 2017, 04:24 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
The point is just this: real history has told us that the empire of Alexander was an episode connected with a particular context and his great skills as commander.

While Rome was a system built to last and to resist also to phases of defeats against other powers.

Alexander would have done well in a first phase, but Rome would have kept on organizing its war machine to annihilate the enemy ... And sooner or later ...
He may have done well. He may have had his army kicked to the curb.

EDIT: Apologies I should elaborate.
The Rome of this timeline had literally advanced centuries and fought a wide variety of opponents: Gauls, Carthagineans, Parthians, Goths, and had managed to destroy the legacy armies of the Macedonians without great difficulty. In addition to new tactics, Roman metallurgy, logistics, and raw GDP were far more substantial.

To be more comparable you'd have to compare Macedonia in a similar timeframe-say pre-Persian invasion Macedonia vs. Rome.

Last edited by zincwarrior; January 5th, 2017 at 04:54 AM.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 04:40 AM   #6
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Much would depend on where the fighting took place. The farther from home the Romans fought, the less inclined they were to go all the way e.g. after the Varrian disaster and Carrhae.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 06:03 AM   #7

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No chance, I'm afraid. Don't get me wrong, Alexander was superb and had an excellent army, but he had ONE excellent army. If he beat one Roman force (and he very well might!), the Romans would just do what they did every other time that happened, and keep bringing in more legions until the problem was solved. Alexander would need 10 times the manpower he had to have any chance of ultimate victory.

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Old January 5th, 2017, 06:15 AM   #8
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No chance, I'm afraid. Don't get me wrong, Alexander was superb and had an excellent army, but he had ONE excellent army. If he beat one Roman force (and he very well might!), the Romans would just do what they did every other time that happened, and keep bringing in more legions until the problem was solved.
In Italy yes, and probably also one of the adjacent regions but not necessarily in Germania or the Near East. By the time of Augustus the Romans were spread pretty far and wide so when the Varrian disaster occurred Augustus accepted the verdict and the Rhine as the frontier.
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Old January 5th, 2017, 07:33 AM   #9

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In Italy yes, and probably also one of the adjacent regions but not necessarily in Germania or the Near East. By the time of Augustus the Romans were spread pretty far and wide so when the Varrian disaster occurred Augustus accepted the verdict and the Rhine as the frontier.
There weren't any legions in Italy, only praetorians and guard units in Rome, and a few Urban cohorts here and there. To get to Italy, you first have to pass a defended border garrisoned by auxiliary troops, backed up "in depth" by strategically spaced legions, all in walled fortresses and ready to march. Other units would converge on you as you march, or gather to wait for you at various choke points (passes, river crossings, etc.).

The defeat of Varus brought a series of campaigns by larger armies under Tiberius and Germanicus that crushed every German force they met. (To the point where Arminius was run out of town for causing his people so much trouble...)

Boudica defeated (part of) Legio IX at the start of her revolt, but was then destroyed by Paulinus with XIV Martia and XX. Legio II was also in Britain but did not march when ordered to.

The Jewish revolt of 66 started with the destruction of Legio XII. Vespasian and Titus responded with 5 legions and a campaign of several years, ultimately leveling Jerusalem. The next revolt in the 130s under Bar Kochba was similar, but was followed by the Jews being driven out of their homeland. Until 1948.

The Year of Four Emperors saw a succession of powerful armies racing across Europe to fight each other, including a couple newly-raised legions. It's a good illustration of how quickly a number of Roman armies could respond to a threat.

Roman response to any internal insurrection was swift, brutal, and overwhelming. Hopefully you aren't suggesting that they'd just let Alexander waltz halfway across the Empire and stroll into Rome?

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Old January 5th, 2017, 07:55 AM   #10
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It doesn't have to Rome at it's peak - Caesar would probably have beaten Alexander with the resources Rome had in the late Republic

Let's say they met at Pharsalus

Roman win...if Alexander pulled off a win, Rome just keeps hunting him down.
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