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Carthage beating Rome and other Punic AH

TheIO

Hamster Warrior of Holyrood
Patreon supporter
I've just been chatting with a friend, and the topic of Carthage beating Rome came up, and she came out with this:

Carthaginian language, trade and culture fucken explodes everywhere and gets powerful, Carthage isn't as army-centric and instead fosters some form of pan-Mediterranean trade stuff and the Parthians butt-fuck the Seleucids and reach the Mediterranean, causing Greece to drop a steaming shit in it's pants and align with Carthage for protection. Carthage gets into shit-fights with barbarians and Carthaginianises the Germans and stuff, next, Jesus fucken flops and basically becomes irrelevant, Muhammed flops, Egypt and Carthage suck each other off, North Africa becomes Carthaginian af, the Barca family dabs on the plebs, Mithraism replaces Christianity as the dominant religion in Europe, eventually Carthage dabs on Europe with its openness and stuff, Europe becomes crapper, North Africa becomes fucken amazing, Carthage gets archers and probably has some adventures in Africa.
from a PoD of Hasdrubal winning at the Metaurus and successfully joining with Hannibal and taking Rome.

I myself ain't quite convinced about the plausibility of that chain of events, but Carthage beating Rome is one of the more common Antiquity AH topics, so it's worth discussing. Is Carthage beating Rome, in either the First or Second Punic War, plausible? What PoDs would cause that? What would the ramifications of a Carthaginian victory in either case be, for both Carthage and Rome as well as elsewhere?

And so on.
 

ImperialGermanKomandant

Active member
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Great Falls, Montana
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As a whole, no. Rome is very unusual in terms of antiquity cultures and states. Unless you can smite legions as soon as they are formed, they'll just say 'see you next year' and raise more legions. The only way to stop Rome is to basically to kill everyone in Italy and no less.

You'll need to crush the Roman spirit first, and that is easier said than done.
 

Sulemain

Brush NOT Benzo
Location
Coventry
I think what a lot of people fail to realise is that Hannibal Barca's war with Rome wasn't really a Roman-Carthage war; rather it was the Barca's possessions in Spain funding a private war with the Carthaginian city-state sort of dragged along for the ride.
 

SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
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What Suleiman and Herr Komandant said. I think the demographic imbalance- Italy and Rome were vastly more populated than Carthage and her empire- make it hard to see a Punic victory on the scale that the Romans managed in our timeline.

Mind you, a Carthaginian victory in the First Punic War that leads to the Romans & Carthaginians having to share the Western Med for another few decades is fairly plausible- that might even be an outcome of round number two.

But I don't see how you get to an equivalent of Zama.
 

TheIO

Hamster Warrior of Holyrood
Patreon supporter
What Suleiman and Herr Komandant said. I think the demographic imbalance- Italy and Rome were vastly more populated than Carthage and her empire- make it hard to see a Punic victory on the scale that the Romans managed in our timeline.

Mind you, a Carthaginian victory in the First Punic War that leads to the Romans & Carthaginians having to share the Western Med for another few decades is fairly plausible- that might even be an outcome of round number two.

But I don't see how you get to an equivalent of Zama.
Is a Second Punic War as likely if Carthage doesn't lose Sardinia during the Mercenary War, do you think?
 

Artaxerxes

Borders are for closers Marge.
Location
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I think what a lot of people fail to realise is that Hannibal Barca's war with Rome wasn't really a Roman-Carthage war; rather it was the Barca's possessions in Spain funding a private war with the Carthaginian city-state sort of dragged along for the ride.
Most always disregard the sheer logistical feat of Carthage reinforcing Hannibal over miles and miles of hostile territory and a couple of weeks sailing.
 

Sulemain

Brush NOT Benzo
Location
Coventry
Most always disregard the sheer logistical feat of Carthage reinforcing Hannibal over miles and miles of hostile territory and a couple of weeks sailing.
Literally any other ancient state or society would have come to peace after Cannae as well, which would have influenced Hannibal's strategy.
 

TheIO

Hamster Warrior of Holyrood
Patreon supporter
Most of Italy wasn't even Roman at that point. Considering the Social War a split could happen. But there was no reason for the Italians to prefer Hannibal over Rome at that point.
Didn't quite a few cities defect to Hannibal though? I understand that there was still a lot of resentment towards Rome from many of the Italian tribes and cities.
 
I don't think it likely for demographic reasons that Carthage on its own could have defeated Rome in the Second Punic War however many victories Hannibal wins, given that the Romans were dogged enough to keep raising armies rather than giving in and had the men available in N and central Italy to do this even when Hannibal was fairly securely based in the S after his victory at Cannae in 216. Rome had a tradition of fighting on regardless despite serious losses, as seen when its army was trapped and humiliated by the Samnites at the Caudine Forks pass debacle in 321 - when victory was still pursued though it took another 25 years.

After the severe losses at Cannae the determined and cautious Fabius Maximus 'Cunctator' ('the Delayer') was in the political ascendant over the risk-takers in the Senate, so the Roman armies avoided any more potentially disastrous direct challenges on the battlefield for years and H could not score a second 'wipe-out' . All he could do was wear Rome down from the South of Italy, building up allies there and hopefully stirring up the local Greek cities there that had been independent until the 270s and so often had reason to dislike Rome as an alien, Northern intruder , eg Tarentum. But Carthage was the Greek cities' own long-term foe from the C6th BC and had fought bitter wars with them and nearly conquered Greek Sicily several times, so the Greeks had no major reason to prefer one potential conqueror and long-term oppressor (Carthage) to another (Rome). Nor did the Carthage elite send Hannibal many more troops to help him in 'one final push' after 216, probably because they did not have the men or else thought he was winning on his own - and they lacked complete control of the sea or of S Italian ports to do this anyway. One large army came to help him with his brother Hasdrubal from Spain in 207 - but this was far too late and it was caught and destroyed by the Romans at the Metaurus river before it could reach Hannibal.

Nor did Hannibal have enough Gallic tribal aid in his 218-17 crossing of the Alps to make up for this lack of help from Carthage or the S Italian Greeks after Cannae in 216 - and it would be unlikely for any Gallic chiefs to see Rome yet as such a long-term threat that they would send major aid in 218 or afterwards to Hannibal, another regional intruder from a power who had been fighting their fellow-'Celts' in Spain for decades. If Hannibal had marched on Rome after Cannae, he did not have adequate siege-engines to beat down the massive 'Servian' walls (this could not be carted over the Alps and the Greek technical experts in S Italy were not yet all on his side)so an ineffective blockade till he ran out of food is likely .The best bet for Hannibal is for the Romans not to win in Spain in the 218-206 wars (say, Scipio Africanus is either killed early on or not even sent there) and Hannibal can get more Spanish aid at an earlier date than 207, and the central Italian tribes plus the Greeks in the S all join him after Cannae. That way, he can set up a viable anti-Roman coalition, and have a larger local army of allies that can block Rome's reconquest of the South. The war in Italy thus turns into a stalemate with Hannibal defeating any Roman attempts to reconquer the South and Rome has to accept a temporary peace c. 205, dividing Italy to keep the area N of Campania Roman. But once Hannibal has left Italy for home a long-term Roman reconquest in the 190s - 180s seems likely, as Carthage would be too exhausted by losses in the war to intervene again.

The best bar to a Roman success would seem to be overseas Greek aid to the anti-Roman coalition in S Italy to make up in men and equipment for Rome's vast resources and resilience. Pyrrhus of Epirus had intervened here already in the early 270s so there is a precedent - so could Philip V of Macedon, who in OTL nearly beat Rome in Greece in the 190s, have been asked successfully by an ageing Hannibal to come to the S Italians' aid in the 190s and keep Rome back? In that case, Rome would logically turn to Macedon's local Greek enemies to attack Philip in the rear - probably Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire. But given all their rivalries, I don't see Macedon, the Seleucids and Carthage being able to co-operate to keep Rome under control as a containable Central Italian power for long, barring Carthage getting its act together to keep Spain loyal and bring in the Gallic tribes to attack Rome from the North.
 

Sulemain

Brush NOT Benzo
Location
Coventry
Didn't quite a few cities defect to Hannibal though? I understand that there was still a lot of resentment towards Rome from many of the Italian tribes and cities.
They didn't but they didn't do so in enough numbers or strategically important places to make a difference.
 

Artaxerxes

Borders are for closers Marge.
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Didn't quite a few cities defect to Hannibal though? I understand that there was still a lot of resentment towards Rome from many of the Italian tribes and cities.
Plenty of more southern cities did but they didn't provide many troops or resources and each that did needed protecting by Hannibal staying nearby or siphoning off precious manpower.
 
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