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If Athens had conquered Syracuse

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  Quote Mythos_Ruler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: If Athens had conquered Syracuse
    Posted: 05-Apr-2005 at 04:14
Let us suppose Athens had completed the circumventing wall around Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War.

So, now Athens has a foothold in Sicily and Sparta is deprived of a valuable ally. Athens retains its fleet and some 20,000 soldiers.

As the true defeat of Athens prompted Persia to back Sparta economically, what would an Athenian victory at Syracuse had done for the war?

Would Athens have then won the war?

Furthermore, if Athens had won the war and reduced Sparta to subject-state (as Thebes would do decades later), would the Delian League have persevered? Could it have reduced the threat from Macedonia? Could they have then withstood Rome? Would an Athenian Empire in Sicily have brought the wrath of Carthage?


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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2005 at 23:41

All very interesting questions, Mythos. The great what-ifs of history will, I am of the opinion, always remain shrouded in mystery, because of the many incalculable factors in an equation so complex that no computer shall ever be able to comprehend. However, I think it can safely be concluded that Athens was doomed as a world power the day she went to war with Sparta.

As history shows, even though Sparta won the war they really lost, as after that they became a shadow of their old power. I am of the opinion that the same would have happened to Athens, and therefore history would not be much altered. In this war, the war itself rather than it's outcome was the real turning point. Or so I project.

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2005 at 18:20
Had Athens attained complete hegemony over Greece, then it would not have been long before the country-folk of Macedon and Thrace came under their aegis.

However, Athens was known for its navy and this would no doubt have brought them into conflict with Carthage, especially with their presence in Sicily. This would have brought about a new Punic War between Carthage and Athens. Rome would have been undamaged and might have been able to take both states with greater ease.
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2005 at 11:38

Carthagenians were defeated repeatedly at sea by the Greeks and their influence in Sicily was greatly limited, only to the furtherwest part of the island, after the battle of Imera. No I don't think the Carthagenians could react, the biggest adversary of the Greeks were other Greeks...

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Apr-2005 at 14:32
Originally posted by Yiannis

Carthagenians were defeated repeatedly at sea by the Greeks and their influence in Sicily was greatly limited, only to the furtherwest part of the island, after the battle of Imera. No I don't think the Carthagenians could react, the biggest adversary of the Greeks were other Greeks...


True, but those Greeks were post-Alexander Greeks whose maritime experitise were greatly enhanced by ruling over superior sailors like the Phoenicians. The Greeks of the Athenian Empire would have been the hoplites armies and tiremes of the city-states.
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2005 at 03:03

Originally posted by Belisarius

True, but those Greeks were post-Alexander Greeks

No, I was reffering to the Persian wars, where Athenians (mainly) defeated Persian fleet (mainly Phoenician).

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2005 at 16:25
Originally posted by Yiannis

No, I was reffering to the Persian wars, where Athenians (mainly) defeated Persian fleet (mainly Phoenician).


Actually, I was under the impression that the bulk of the Persian fleet at Salamis was Egyptian. Even so, Salamis was a cleverly devised trap. On the open sea, things would have been much different.

Besides, Carthage hugely surpassed its Phoenician founders in terms of both economic and military power.
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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2005 at 18:23
True, but those Greeks were post-Alexander Greeks whose maritime experitise were greatly enhanced by ruling over superior sailors like the Phoenicians. The Greeks of the Athenian Empire would have been the hoplites armies and tiremes of the city-states.

Besides, Carthage hugely surpassed its Phoenician founders in terms of both economic and military power.


If we look at what Herodotus has recorded about the Battle of Salamis we find that he mentions 1207 triremes and 3000 lesser fighting ships and supply ships (VII 89, 184). Many have attempted to reject Herodotus as an accurate source due to alleged exageration, but we do find Aeschylus' record as seen in his " Persians" (we must note that Aeschylus took part in the battle):

"If numbers had been the only factor, be assured that the barbarians would have gained the victory with their fleet. For the whole number of the ships of Hellas amounted to ten times thirty, [340] and, in addition to these, there was a chosen squadron of ten. But Xerxes this I know, had under his command a thousand, while those excelling in speed were twice a hundred, and seven more. This is the total of their respective numbers. Do you think that we were simply outnumbered in this contest?"
(Persians 336-345)

If we continue with such records we find Diodoros (XI 3), Isokrates (VII 49), Lysias (II 27) among others, all to agree that the Persian fleet consisted of approx. 1300. Now this compared to 300-350 depending on your source doesn't give me the idea of "superior sailors" as you suggest.

The only way I could understand this "superiority" would be, if it was based on earlier evidence of travel or better results in the between them battles.

In both of these cases we find the Hellines to be superior.
We have the colonization of Cyprus in 15th cent. BC (note the distance compared to Phoenicia-Cyprus).

We also have proof of Mycenean culture in Phoenicia. Evidence of this are pottery styles at the excavation at Ekron.
Very interesting is the find of a large wall contructed building that covers over 250sq.m. Large walls, columns, peddle paved floors....... all typical as found in Mycenean buildings.

If we are to take it even further back, we find
the Most Ancient Shipping in the world - Frahthi of Argolida (7.000 B.C.). The Frahthi cave hid many surprises to the scientists. There, apart from the most ancient burial of Europe (10,000 B.C.), relics of prehistoric fishery were found and foremost : opsidianus pieces of 7,000 B.C. (Note that the volcanic material of opsidianus exists only in Milos island. Opsidianus of the same age has been found in Halkidiki and Hoirokitia of Cyprus...). This stands as a serious proof that Greeks already were travelling with ease all over the Aegean sea.
[Jacobsen T. 17.000 Years of Greek Prehistory , Scientific American, 234 (1976)]

Now as for Carthage,

I think you haven't evaluated the influence the Hellines had on Roman military, or in this case naval knoledge. It is a fact that with the Battle of Salamis in 480 and Athenian invasion of Syracuse in 415 BC the Hellines already proved their superior naval knoledge to the world.

We are talking about at least 200yrs before the First Punic War.
The Romans probably could copy the captured Carthaginian ships but why would they, when they already had the knoledge of the Hellinic cities of southern Italy on their side.
We must also keep in mind that the Romans were never concidered to be sailors, that's why they developed a tactic were a "drawbridge" dropped onto an enemy's deck so the legionaries could board.

This is superiority in naval operations. Taking a "landlover" (Roman) and turning him into a sailor that could sink anything on float.



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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2005 at 00:28
Perhaps I was misunderstood. By superiority I was not talking of military prowess but general nautical expertise. Of course the Greeks proved that they were great naval fighters. I absolutely agree with that. However, Phoenician nautical ability allowed them to sail as far as Britain and some suspect farther so. The Greeks, though great sailors in their own right, mostly sailed near coastlines and were not comfortable in the open sea.

I do not believe that the Battle of Salamis should be used as an example of the naval superiority of either people, regardless of the numbers. As I said before, it was a cleverly devised trap where a vastly larger fleet was lured into a small space where even a smaller fleet than the Greeks possessed might have been able to win. It was a victory of tactics rather than nautical skill.

The Myceneans' presence in Cyprus or Phoenicia is not such a great feat. The eastern Mediterranean is dotted with thousands of islands and so they were never very far from land.

It is true that the Greeks might have had an earlier start, but the Phoenicians advanced faster. Many Greek ship designs such as the famous trireme were copied by the Hellenes from existing Phoenician models.

I am not quite sure what you are arguing about Rome. Perhaps if you rephrase your argument?

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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2005 at 10:42
This will probably take the dicussion in a whole different direction but since you would like to know, here we go.

The very fact that we have Mycenean presence in Phoenicia is of great interest, since we know of the finds in Frahthi of Argolida, this proves the continuance of shipping and it would be safe to say evolution in shipping.

Most ancient sources provide as the Phoenician's homeland the island of Crete and many historians connect them to the Sea People, that also have been proved to have a major connection to the Hellines.

You mention the Phoenicians nautical ability while the Hellines allegedly weren't comfortable in open seas. I suggest reading :

HENRIETTE MERTZ "ΟΙΝΩΨ ΠΟΝΤΟΣ" ("DARK WINE SEA", ΝΕΑ ΘΕΣΙΣ publications)

ENRICO MATTIEVICH "ΤΑΞΙΔΙ ΣΤΗΝ ΜΥΘΟΛΟΓΙΚΗ ΚΟΛΑΣΗ" ("JOURNEY TO THE MYTHOLOGICAL HELL", EKATH publications) provides comparative catalogues between Hellenic words and their corresponding Chuetsua ones.
Some examples:
ANCIENT GREEK       &n bsp;          CHUETSUA

agnos =pure, sacred -          Ahnana =sacrament, ceremony
ana =high, up, upwards -      Hana =high, up, top side
avra =wind, blow -          ;      Guairas =Ovens in which the wind strongly blows
aeer =wind-         &nbs p;         &nbs p;     waira =wind


Heidenburg University published in 1987 the German researcher's N. Josephson book entitled 'GREEK LINGUISTIC ELEMENTS IN THE POLYNESIAN LANGUAGES - GREEK PACIFIC' in which exist comparative catalogues between 808 Hellenic words and their corresponding Polynesian ones.
Some examples:

HAWAII DIALECT       & nbsp;       ANCIENT HELLINIC

Aeto=Hawk,eagle        ;        Aetos=Hawk,eagle
Areto =Bread       &nb sp;         &nb sp;   Artos =Bread
Angou =suffocate, pant        Agho =press, suffocate
Arote =plough       &n bsp;         &n bsp;   Arotriao =plough
Aere =sail         ;           ;         Aeeroo =rise, sail
Heene =Female       &n bsp;         &n bsp; Ginee =Woman
Nou-Nou =Thought        &nbs p;       Nous =Mind

Other interesting finds:
The Anasazi built acropoles and fortresses very much alike to those of Mycinae, constructed roads, amphitheaters and irrigational works. They conducted solar observations and constructed clay pots and pottery similar to those of the Greek geometric period.
The symbols and the designs of Anasazi which are carved on stones, their ceramic designs and especially their myths which were salvaged by Hopi, offer light to things which for the 'specialists' remain 'unsolved mysteries'.


The French writer Pierre Honorre notes that 'the Maya writing is entirely identical with the Minoan Linear A'. A jar originating from Crete that was discovered in Bimini creates an unexpected so called 'riddle'. Copper made double sided axes from Crete were found in Washighton and Ohio of the U.S.A.


This Stone inscription with Greek letters on it
(was found at Kensington Minnesota at 1898)


Many consider the Kensington stone to be a rune stone, but this could possibly be a mistake since, when you compare the two scripts, you'll find that the Hellinic letters "betta", "gamma", "lamda", "digamma", "chi", "rho", "hetta", "psi", "sigma", "mi", "iotta", "omega" are very similar to the Rune "letters".






Inka necklace presented in Eric von Dainaken's book "My world in pictures"
(not sure if this is how it's titled in its English edition)




I could continue with a long list of stone inscriptions and coins found, but instead I'll just mention the city names found in S.America.

See: FEDRA="ΦΑΙΔΡΑ"
New Nickerie EPHYRA= ΕΦΥΡΑ (the old name of Corinth)
IPOLITOS=ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟ& #931;
THETIS= ΘΕΤΙΣ
LARIS=ΛΑΡΙΣΑ
CRATEUS=KRATEOS
ATALIA and ATALYA=ΑΤΑΛΙΑ
SOLIMOES=ΣΟΛΥΜΟΥΣ

All the above names are definitelly Hellinic and according to sources were used before the Spaniards reached the areas.(coincidence???)
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2005 at 11:01

Very interesting, I concede.

Language similarities between cultures thousands of miles apart are more common than your believe. Languages usually have common ancestors.

While I do not have sources immediately on hand, there has been evidence of Phoenician presence in the Americas, Mirconesia, and Australia.

However, I imagine the creator of this thread has had enough of our diverging from his topic. I would be interested in your take of what would have occured had Athens taken Syracuse, Phallanx.

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  Quote Ahmed The Fighter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2005 at 17:18

i think if it happened the supermacy go to greek not to the roman

and greek language instead of latin in italy,france,spain and purtogal

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  Quote vulkan02 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2005 at 18:53
Originally posted by Ahmed The Fighter

i think if it happened the supermacy go to greek not to the roman

and greek language instead of latin in italy,france,spain and purtogal



If the Greeks would not revolutionize their military like the Romans i don't think any favorable scenario would put them in this position. They would have to contend with the Samnites and other tribes who did not fight in phalanx formation. Upper Italy as well as central Italy would be impossible to conquer since phalax has very little use in mountanous terrain.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-May-2005 at 23:31

Personally I think it would have been a very interesting scenario. I think it would basically result in a short lived domination of most areas of the Greek world such as Sicily, Peloponnesus, Western Asia Minor, the various Greek Islands and perhaps Greece as far north as Thebes. But I do not think Athens would have grown into a power comparable to that of Rome, Carthage of Alexander's Macedonia. The reasons are simple. Athens was not designed to manage a large Empire as Rome was with its bureaucracy, offices and prefectures. Athens was a citizen democracy subject to vacillation between orators and demagogues. Its power was effectively maritime and it was a mini-empire based on martime domination of a large number of vastly smaller Greek communities. It has a land army but one which was not designed for major operations within a territory's interior. Alexander's army was a combined force which had vastly superior cavalry to anything Athens ever fielded, in advancing against foreign enemies inland Athens couldn't bring its naval superiority to bear and the hoplite phalanx faces a range of difficulties fighting in swampy ground, woodland and hill country. In the longer term Athens lacked the administrative and military structure need to carve out and maintain an empire of the Roman type.

As for the aftermath of the war it seems Athens would have been able to maintain hegemony for perhaps a couple of generations at most, but knowing the Greeks' love of independence and hatred of foreign occupation it would only take a sudden crisis for the much larger subject states to throw off Athenian rule. But IF Athens managed to stay in control and assuming Macedonia came to the fore and war occured I would again say no to Athens' chances at victory. The much more effective combined arms army and brilliant leadership of Philip and his son would have won in any case, the alliance of Thebes and Athens proved just how outdated the city-state hoplite army was against such a force.

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