Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What If: Achmaenid Persia Conquers Greece?

Here's another timeline from the alternate-history forum, even though I remain self-banned in order to avoid distraction from my day job and from my other writing pursuits. This one diverges from our history with a Greek defeat at the Battle of Salamis to become The World of Achaemenid Hellas.

(For those of a less historical bent, the Achaemenids are the ruling dynasty of Persia during this period, while "Hellas" refers to Greece. The Greeks actually called themselves "Hellenes"--"Greece" and "Greeks" is based on the Latin-Roman term for them.)

Some highlights of the timeline include:

*The Messinians, who had been servile helots under Spartan rule, cannot agree on whether to establish a democracy or a monarchy after getting liberated by the Persians, so they basically invent the concept of a constitutional monarchy as a political compromise.

*Xerxes lives so long he gains the epithet "Xerxes the Old" and at one point waxes philosophical about the nature of kingship, petty cruelties, etc. I'm vaguely reminded of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

*The Greek population of Italy, swollen by refugees fleeing Persian conquest, forms an alliance uniting all the Greek cities of the region (which was referred to as Magna Graecia--"Greater Greece"--owing to its settler population) and permanently disabuses the Carthaginians of their desire to conquer Sicily. The Carthaginians, beaten but not annihilated, find more productive places to expend their energies and go onto brighter things.

*A Persian satrap--regional governor--of a united Greece rebels against the Persian Great King and establishes a sort of Diadochi-in-reverse.

*There's some kind of synthesis of Buddhism, the Hellenic faiths, and Zoroastrianism that has generally Buddhist ethics, the Hellenic pantheon, and a Zoroastrian belief in the struggle of Good against Evil.

I'm very busy these days and so I haven't finished it, but so far so good. If I ever return to posting on the forum, I should probably ask whatever happened to Artemisia, Xerxes' female naval commander who even the extremely sexist Greeks admired.

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