phalanx(artwork  copyright: Johny Shumate)

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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Many readers know that I have written a historical novel entitled ‘Rome must be destroyed : What if Alexander the Great had not died so young?’  (See List of my Published Books and Articles  and also the book’s cover on the left of this page) which has been published a few years ago in Greek. I quote here the prologue, the beginning of the first chapter and the accompanying Historical Note for the English-speaking readers. I hope you enjoy it. I apologize in case that the translation in English is not ”literary” enough (or maybe it is!). Copyright is mine, thereby for a probable reproduction of this text, please send to me an email message.

Some more text of the novel you can read in Part II
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The official abstract of the novel (from the Greek edition):
What if Alexander the Great had not died so young? Would he be able to conquer the peoples of the Known World of his era? This is an exciting novel on the adventures and the new conquests of the great king, on the glory that in reality his early death (only 33 years old) had deprived him of. Through the narration of Aelius Sembronius Vulca, an adventurous Roman mercenary in Alexander’s army, an enthralling era is coming alive. Vulca, the main hero of the novel, is following Alexander at every step of his campaigns, until around 315 BC the warrior-king turns against the peoples and states of the Western Mediterranean and dismisses all mercenaries from those regions.
Vulca, the devout soldier of Alexander who fought for ten years at his side ready to sacrifice his life for his commander, will be found on the battlefields confronting him and enemies who until then were his brotherly friends, defending his homeland against the formidable Macedonian phalanx … Will he manage to prepare Rome, Carthage and the other Italian and Western Mediterranean states for the approaching threat? A Rome torn, ravaged by wars in Italy, intrigues and personal ambitions? Alexander is determined: Rome has to open her gates or be destroyed!…
This unique alternative history novel is the first part of a trilogy on the hypothetical march of Alexander to the Western Mediterranean and Europe. It is a work based on solid historical evidence, which enthrals the reader from the first page. An exciting adventure historically based on the real plans of the great warrior-king which, if not cancelled by his sudden death, may have formed completely different the World map until today … A novel that came so close on becoming reality…
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ROME MUST BE DESTROYED

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“… To built a thousand warships larger than triremes, in Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia and Cyprus, for the needs of the campaign against the Carthaginians and the other peoples who inhabit the coasts of Libya and Iberia and all neighboring coasts around Sicily … “
(projects of Alexander the Great  quoted by Diodoros of Sicily, Book 18, 4).

“… Others say that (Alexander) was thinking (of sailing) to Sicily and the Cape of Iapygia; instigated also by the name of the Romans whose reputation was extended.”
(projects of Alexander  quoted by Arrian in his  Alexandrou Anabasis)

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FOREWORD

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About Alexander… About the years that we fought as his soldiers and as his enemies. This is what they asked me to recount every night around the fire. Members of my family, people of my clan, archons of our community, other young or mature men who would like to hear the man who lived all these harder than anyone else. To listen about this heroic age, as they were calling it … They didn’t know…
Now, at the end of my life, now that involuntarily comes to mind the account of the life of a man, now the image of all these is more intense than ever! Sometimes I remember them with suffering, sometimes with nostalgia. And sometimes when I’m alone, tears appear on my eyes. I succeeded or not on what I was requested to do? Was I the man who had to be in those difficult times? Did I save my people? The Senate and the People of Rome…
These questions are no longer torturing me anymore. They cannot be answered by me. Let my people judge me.
“Recount your memories Vulca … Speak to us…”


When I was asked for it, I was grumbling a bit. After all, I’m a very, very old man. However I was always starting to narrate, because that was what I also wanted deep down. Some of them had heard these stories many times. But they were asking to hear them again and again. Children with their mouths ajar. Adults with their eyes fixed on my lips. Veterans who wanted me to share with them what I have experienced. And always one or two of my old comrades sitting close to me, interrupting me with their corrections.
This evening I decided to speak differently. I would recount my memories from the beginning, rather than piecemeal as hitherto. And I’ve decided to write every detail. In the expensive blank scrolls that Larans brought me from Asia Minor. I would try to put things in order in my soul too; I would speak about everything! How we fought and died on the battlefields of the West against the storm that came from the East. A storm that even now, has not subsided…
My life is fading out. I can feel it. I must hurry before my last journey…
I asked for the aid of Jupiter Voltumna, drank two sips of wine, plunged the pen into the ink and began to write …
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SOGDIANA

(First part of my novel. Vulca is employed as a mercenary in the army of Alexander at Sogdiana – modern Uzbekistan. He is a rich Patrician but he had chosen the adventures in Asia as a soldier of Alexander)

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CHAPTER I

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I opened my eyes feeling so much pain. My head ached unbearably. I had the taste of sand in my mouth and my face was covered with a dark red mixture of blood and dirt. I looked around me. I watched with bleary eyes corpses of my comrades, enemies and horses. The chase of the barbarians had reached carnage … The last thing I remembered was the axe of that giant Massagetian cracking on my head. My helmet was on my left side, torn in two by the terrible blow. A deep wound was open on the right side of my forehead, from my hair to my eyebrow. The giant lay on the ground in front of me. Dead. A comrade of mine had caught up on him slaying him before he gives me the death stroke.
I heard steps behind me. Someone was coming balefully! I crawled as fast as I could on the ground, to grab a sword a little further. Writhing in pain but I managed to grab it! Had my time come I would take one or two enemies with me in the netherworld. If I were caught alive, I would see my groin make a trophy nailed to the spear of someone of them.
“Vulca! Glory to Zeus; you live! ”
Glory to Zeus, indeed! It was Turnus.
The survivors of my squadron were gathering around me. I saw Centauros and Numerios, Lasthenes and Arsames, Turnus and the Athenian Hipparchos, our military doctor who had already begun to sew my wound, worsening my pain with his thick needle.

We started our expedition from our base, the town of Marakanda in Sogdiana, to hunt once more a Massagetian raiding party. They broke again the open borders on the steppe and galloped deep into the State. These Scythians of Asia did the same again! Having looted properties and burned villages, they escaped loaded with booty and captives. This was happening for centuries, since the time of the Persian rule. Now, Alexander inherited this problem. A problem that became more intense as these proud riders would never forgive the defeat that they suffered by his army years ago.
When alerted of what had happened, Scopas our commander, assigned their elimination to me and my men. I got with me only a part of my cavalry; two hundred light horsemen and horse-archers, suitable for the chase of the barbarians.
We caught up on them shortly before they enter their country, giving them the first stroke. They were forced to abandon the captives. They escaped again, taking advantage of our stop to take care of the unfortunate Sogdian villagers that they had captured. I sent them with an escort to Marakanda and continued tracking the Massagetae in their territory. When they managed passing the borders of the State, they were well hidden by the vastness of the steppe and desert. We were killing or capturing them usually only when were catching them up within our territory. The pursuit of the barbarian raiders in the vast unknown Scythia was usually a lost cause. In this case, we were chasing them for a few hundred stadia in their country and then we were returning to our base. However, this time the demons of the steppe had prepared an elaborate trap for us…
The raiding party that we were hunting led us directly to a large force of their comrades! They expected us to pay back the heavy losses we had caused them over the years. And they paid them back for good.
Trying to escape in the broad daylight from those born horsemen who are galloping like the sand of the desert during a sandstorm, sounds like a suicide. You will end up with a couple of arrows nailed in your back and your face buried in the dirt. Your only chance is to attack them frontally, playing all or nothing! They are more accustomed in shooting arrows while galloping rather than in hand-to-hand combat. Thus you have more chances to save your ass.
When Hipparchos finished sewing my skull I managed to stand on my feet. I saw how large the field full of corpses of people and horses was. I saw some of my men killing with their daggers wounded enemies and dying horses. A quick plunging of the blade in the neck or the heart was enough in both cases. Suddenly I felt severe pain again, stumbling but didn’t fall to the ground.
I knew that my men were now considering me as their savior from the difficult situation. They were expecting from me, even if I was in a mess because of my wound… Luckily, I had Centauros, my lieutenant, to share the heavy burden.
Centauros the Thessalian was an experienced soldier, who for some reason unknown to us all, had not risen to the military hierarchy. Maybe it was his modest and frugal character that did not pursue offices. He looked around with a gloomy face and spoke to me.
“It was carnage, Vulca! They killed many comrades, but we also cut them to pieces.”
I agreed with a sign of my head. Then I turned sharply to my soldiers.
“We leave immediately! The stinkers will return soon, many more of them.”
It was impossible to bury our dead. The nomads are moving fast and could appear at any moment. The vultures had begun to gather in the sky …
We were eighty survivors all in all, along with the wounded. There were four of them whose wounds would do not allow them to see the sundown. They would stay. The companions, one by one, were giving them their farewell. It was that bitter farewell with just a look. Without much talking. A touch of the hand to their shoulder was enough. A smile. A vulgar quip. To exorcise the shadow of death that began to cover them.
One of the men who would stay was Tynondas; my good friend Tynondas. I didn’t know at first his condition so I cried to him not to delay lying on the ground and climb on his horse! He turned his face to me and I saw the deep wound on his neck, from which a fountain of blood gushed when he began to cough trying to breathe. He threw up more blood from his mouth, thicker and darker.
“I apologize to you commander, for I am going to stay here. Tonight I’ll sleep in Hades” he said with a carefree style. Centauros had come near me.
“He is as good as dead” told me in a whisper. Then he approached the dying man and leaning over him, asked him:
“You need something Tynondas?”
“I need you to get your smelly breath away from my face… and to put two swords in my hands…. I fear that the barbarians will find me alive.”
Centauros picked up two swords from the dead which were lying around, and put them in Tynondas’ hands. The Scythians would not find him alive for sure. He had not even the energy to hold the swords steadily. Maybe he wanted to fool himself having the illusion that he had still some life force inside him, enough to be in danger by the barbarians. Centauros was standing in front of him, to say the last farewell.
“Hail Tynondas! I’ll send your money to your family and I will always honor you together with my ancestors. You were a brother to us … Although you were grumpy and ill-fated!”
I opened my lips to say goodbye to Tynondas… but I could not say anything. I raised my hand for greeting him. He touched the place of his heart and made us a nod to leave quickly. Leaving, I heard him singing with his last breaths the paean of the Arcadians ……. ……… ……..
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GLOSSARY

(a part of it)

Furthest Alexandria: one of the colonies founded by Alexander the Great in Asia. This one was established in modern Uzbekistan.

Hastati, Principes and Triarri: the names of the three main lines that composed the manipula of a Roman Legion during this period, according to their age and their experience in battle.

Inner Sea: the Mediterranean.

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Marakanda: modern Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
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Massagetae: an ancient Scythian people living in the north and west of Sogdiana. Some scholars consider them as the ancestors of some subsequent Sarmatian tribes.
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Serae and Phryni: that is how the ancient Greeks called the Chinese and the Turko-Mongols respectively.
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Sogdiana: an ancient region of Central Asia, inhabited by Iranians. Southern Sogdiana was a region of Alexander’s empire.
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The State: Alexander’s state (the term “empire” is a subsequent Latin term)
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HISTORICAL NOTE

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This book is a novel. It is not another novel, study or treatise on Alexander and the personalities around him. It is a novel and at the same time a study of alternative History about the ancient world of the West confronting Alexander who continues to live after 323 BC (the year of his death in reality); the world of Western Mediterranean and Western Europe: A world as fascinating and exciting as that of ancient Greece and the Hellenistic East.
I could not write a study on what would have happened if Alexander did not die so young, because History is based only on facts and never on hypotheses and assumptions. So it had to be a novel.

Alexander(Source/copyright of the map: GROLIER ONLINE ATLAS)

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Alexander’s plans on future conquests (after 323 BC) are known enough. Arrian informs us on the feverish preparations that were taking place in Babylon, unofficial capital of Alexander, for the circumnavigation and conquest of Arabia (the Arabian Peninsula). Diodorus of Sicily quotes the next aim of the great conqueror: to march up to the Pillars of Hercules (modern Gibraltar) crossing and conquering Cyrenaica and the territories of the Carthaginians and the Libyans (modern Maghreb, NW Africa). The geographical end of this march to reach Gibraltar denotes that he was interested in the Iberian Peninsula as well. Curtius Rufus writes about Italy as Alexander’s next objective. It was impossible for the voracious for new conquests king not to be interested in the large and fertile peninsula with its unlimited and vibrant manpower, the most developed and civilized region of ancient Europe after Greece. Finally, there is the assessment of some modern historians that the maritime expeditions of the Massaliot Greek explorer Pytheas up to Iceland, Norway or to the Baltic Sea were funded by Alexander, who needed information on his other future objectives for conquest.

This book among other matters recounts how things could have evolved already since Alexander’s time, from the conflict of the two most powerful war machines of antiquity and of the most formidable in World History. Of the Greek war machine under the leadership of Alexander and the Macedonians on the one side, and of the Italian under the Romans and the Samnites on the other side… if the young king did not die so suddenly, that fatal summer of 323 BC in Babylon.
Historically, this conflict eventually occurred forty years after his death but to a much lesser extent, when Pyrrhus of Epirus with a small but almost nationwide Greek army and some Italian allies, tried to defeat Rome. Although he was never defeated, his inability to replace his heavy casualties caused by the stubborn Roman resistance in the battles, forced him to leave Italy (Pyrrhic victory). This collision took place again about seventy-five years after Pyrrhus, when the Macedonian power was setting and the Romans were now the undisputed protagonists of the Known World. The conflict between the Romano-Italians and the Greeks was hard, dramatic and often ambiguous. Rome had to make at least a dozen large wars and several other campaigns in order to conquer the Greek/Hellenistic territories, fighting heavily for three hundred years from Tarentum and Syracuse to Actium and Alexandria. However, the collision of these two politico-military “road rollers” did not bring disaster and setback, but on the contrary a newer wonderful world: the Greco-Roman world, an exquisite offspring of their fusion.
We can imagine the scale and cruelty of this collision if it had occurred during Alexander’s reign.
This book has a higher aim. It will be part of a trilogy, which will represent the hypothetical march of Alexander and maybe some of his successors (his son Alexander IV and his generals, namely Pyrrhus of Epirus, Ptolemy, Perdiccas, Xanthippos the Spartan and others) in the conquest of new countries apart from those he had occupied until 323 BC. The presentation of this alternative history in the form of novels, will always be made with historical fidelity and taking into consideration all aspects (political, military, cultural and others) as I did in this book. Regions such as Gaul, the Iberian Peninsula and probably Britain in Europe or India in the East would have surely been future objectives for Alexander’s armies, if his State had not been divided (as it happened after his sudden death).
But the hypothetical future conquests of Alexander do not exclude the survival of unconquerable states or tribes in those areas, such as the powerful state of Rome (the Roman Commonwealth) or some warlike tribes in Gaul, Iberia or India. In the Hellenistic period there were several such cases of native states which survived alongside the gigantic Hellenistic kingdoms. The most characteristic was Bithynia which not only survived but also quintupled its area, although it lied among powerful Greek kingdoms (often exploiting the conflicts between them). The historical question is whether Rome, Samnium or some Celtic or Indian tribes or states could achieve the deed of Bithynia or Parthia.
The recruitment of Italian and other Western Mediterranean mercenaries by Alexander is an assumption I made in this book, which is based on historical facts. The first Italian and Roman mercenaries were recruited in the Hellenistic armies about a hundred years after his death. But if Alexander wanted to retain his rule on the Valley of the Indus and Central Asia – something that his Seleucid successors failed to do – and to expand it on new territories – which Agathocles in Africa and Pyrrhus in Italy also failed to do – he would have to recruit many mercenaries from the West. His Greek combatants and mariners were not enough in number. The Asiatics (Asians) and the Egyptians offered unlimited military manpower which Alexander desperately wanted to use. But his Macedonians reacted from the outset against this perspective, fearing that they would be superseded by them in the military and the administration. Alexander recruited many Persians and Medes for the Macedonian phalanx but this project was abandoned after his death. His successors significantly reduced the military role of the Asians.

Romans(artwork  copyright: Montvert publications/ Angus McBride)

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All events in this book before 323 BC regarding the Greek history and before 308 BC regarding the Italian and Punic history historically occurred. After these dates I had to “compose” the events, always with historical fidelity and taking into consideration all aspects.
Aelius Sembronius Vulca, a Roman of distant Etruscan origin and the main hero of this book was not a historical figure. Neither the other heroes coming from throughout the Western Mediterranean, except some Italian personalities like Gavius Pontius, Poplilius Philo, Fabius Rullianus, Sulpicius Longus and others who were historical figures. The main cause of this situation is the major lack of written sources from these regions concerning even their leaders. On the side of the Greeks, all the leading figures are historical.
However Vulca could be a real figure. In some ways he is. He is the eternal Roman: stubborn, hard, sometimes felonious and on the other hand hardworking, studious, philanthropist with the same mentioned elements and the same thirst for conquests and explorations that characterized Alexander and his Macedonians. And always focused on one purpose: the final triumph of the Senate and the People of Rome.
On the other hand, Vulca is not the typical hero but mostly a usual vulnerable man in every sense. He commiserates and hates, falls in love and hurts, feels despondency and puts his life at risk, falls into errors, gets wounded, confronts several times the face of Death. He is at the same time a soldier and a man of peace, struggling to reconcile these two situations … …
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Periklis Deligiannis
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 CONTINUE  READING PARTS of the text in PART II 

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