Alternate History

771 BC - 700 BC (No Rome)

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Point of Divergence:
c. 771 BC
Reign of Amulius:
771 BC - 700 BC
Reign of Didius:
699 BC - 600 BC

Following the removal of all threats to Amulius’ reign, he would begin consolidating power in his kingdom. Amulius' descendants would continue his efforts, establishing themselves as a powerful union in the peninsula, matched closely by the Etruscans, who expand unhindered, and several other native tribes.

Italic People


308px-Mars Pyrrhus cropped

Mars, Latin deity.

Several weeks after the removal of Rhea Silvia’s children, she too would meet a similar fate, falling ill in her prison cell. She died, further removing all possibilities of a male heir challenging Amulius. Dealing with the small crisis accordingly, Amulius turned his focus back toward the duties of Alba Longa. He retired back to his palace, residing in the city of Lavinium, first founded by Aeneas centuries earlier. Looking to further establish himself as a force that would not be removed, Amulius secured the borders of Alba Longa, from Lavinium to Albanus Lacus, where the city of Alba Longa stands. Years earlier the city of Alba Longa had been the site of the founding of the Latin League, a loose confederation of Latin towns and villages, acting as a buffer to Etruscan expansion from the north. The land of the Latin people stretched from the Tiber River to the promontory of Monte Circeo, separating the Latins from Etruria via the Silva Ciminia, an unbroken and feared forest to the north of Lavinium. 

More exact borders were drawn by Amulius, and a careful eye was played upon the forest, toward the Etruscans and the Sabines to the east. For this purpose, and to prevent another wealthy individual usurping his kingdom, Amulius commissioned a small militia known as the Diogmita Latinum, drawing men from several local clans and villages. The group was paid small wages, and tasked primarily with pursuing robbers outside major cities. Several paid guards would also be stationed in the palace at Lavinium.

Guards were paid with primarily with pecus, sheep, much like most of the peninsula. For most of the early Latins, bartering had been the dominant form of trade, used in small local marketplaces to buy basic necessities. Trade was local, especially farther inland, the only exception being sea trade, to which the Latins were mostly excluded.


The Etruscans benefited greatly from trade over the seas. With settlements spread across the peninsula, trade commenced from the Po Valley, in the far north, to the Campania region, and to the Etruscan homeland of Etruria. Etruscan traders are also known to have contacted Greek colonies in Sicily and southern Italy.

The Etruscans imposed their cultural and political institutions over the native people of the north, creating a second Dodecapolis, a federation of twelve cities, much like the twelve main cities of the first Dodecapolis in Etruria, founded by Tarchon and his brother Tyrrhenus. The Etruscans were able to trade with several cities states along the Adriatic Sea, transporting goods along the Po River, from cities such as Mantua, to ports in the east, such as Atria and Spica. Throughout Umbria and several city states in the area, imported goods from Greece and Etruria became common, as well as the production of local pottery.

Alba Amulius

In 749 BC Amulius died of natural causes, leaving his oldest son,

Aeneas, legendary king of the Latins.

Alba Amulius to be crowned king. Under his reign Alba Longa would extend its influence over the Latin tribes, and lay the foundations for future towns.

Alba Amulius was seventeen years of age when he became leader of Alba Longa. At his coronation in Lavinium many looked on with mixed thoughts. The new king was smaller and less experienced than his father, having little experience in actual combat. At his first Feriae Latinae as king, the Latin Festival, first established generations earlier, Alba Amulius allowed his people gathered on Alban Mount to feast and celebrate heavily.

As part of his first real acts as king Alba Amulius commissioned the creation of several large pastures near the city of Alba Longa. Trade along ancient Sabine trails would help the Latins to secure salt from the Adriatic Sea, mostly through trade. This trail would eventually become known as the Via Salaria, due to its importance in the salt trade.

Alba Longa’s small militia began to be paid in salt, as well as pecus from the northern pastures. This military improvement, which increased the loyalty of the Latin militia worried the tribes north of Alba Longa, across the Tiber River, known as the Fidenates, an Etruscan

The Fidenates led a raiding party into Latinum in 747 BC, destroying a hand full of Latin farms near Alba Longa. Alba Amulius gathered a small army of Diogmita, backed by a larger force of militia supplied from the wealthy countryside, where the fighting had inflicted a personal toll on the clan leaders. Messages reached all the Latin tribes of the league, mustering additional aid within a few days. All together, a force of about three centuriae of Diogmita, ten centuriae of militia, and about ninety horsemen, led by Alba Amulius himself, departed from Alba Longa for the north.

The initial Fidenate raids primarily revolved around the Via Salaria. Hundreds of pounds of salt from the Adriatic Sea were raided from the trade route by parties of Fidenates. On 13 Maius 747 BC the army of Alba Amulius attacked the Fidenates several miles northeast of Alba Longa. The Fidenates were stunned by such a large army, but met the Latins on the battlefield. Each side suffered heavy casualties, but the Latins managed to rout the Fidenates, who fled to their city of Fidenae.

Etruscan reinforcements from Veii, a militant city allied with Fidenae, moved toward the city, hoping to intercept the Latins as they crossed further into Etruscan land. Eager to make quick territorial gains, Alba Amulius ordered his army toward Fidenae, into the combined forces of the Etruscan tribes of the Tiber.

La Victoire de Tullus Hostilius sur les forces de Veies et de Fidena

Latin soldiers in battle with the Veii and Fidenae, modern fresco.

Alba Amulius positioned his main force in the east, using the local terrain to his advantage. The first Centuriae Diogmitiae accompanied by five centuries of militia advanced to the southwest, taking cover behind small outcroppings and trees to cover their advance. The Etruscans sent their primary force east, surrounding themselves from the east and south. When fighting broke out, a second force of Etruscans engaged the southern Latin flank. Although the Latins held the upper hand, they were forced to retreat from such heavy losses. Alba Amulius, fearing that the Veii would get support from the entire Etruscan Dodecapolis, he dedicated the remainder of the campaign to holding his position and guarding the Via Salaria.

The Fidenates pushed onward after the retreating Latins, suffering far greater losses, and exhausting the Etruscan supply lines. The advances collapsed, and on 1 Quintilis the Latins surrounded Fidenae. The Latins entered the city the next day, slaughtering Etruscan settlers, and taking whatever supplies they could. The town was razed, and the Latins took their plunder and captives back to Alba Longa.

The Tiber River was used by the Latins as a natural barrier for future attacks. Raids from both sides were common, with little territorial changes being made. Veii was never able to secure the manpower needed to push past the river defenses, instead raiding the increasingly defended Via Salaria.

Alba Amulius died on 4 Novembris 744, presumably from a riding accident. As people gathered for his funeral, the conflict continued just outside the city.

Reign of Servius

Following the death of Alba Amulius, his brother would be crowned king of Alba Longa. Servius, son of Amulius, opened up peace negotiations with the Etruscans. On 1 Martius 743 the Etruscans and Latins agreed to peace, decreeing that the Etruscans shall never again settle across the Tiber River. The Latins would retain all land to the south, including most of the ruined lands of the Fidenates. Both parties would also retain the right to use the Via Salaria for peaceful trade with the Adriatic Sea city states.

Following the war’s end Servius greatly disarmed the Latin League, sending veterans of the frontier war back to their homes. The militia was discharged, and the remaining volunteers were trained as Diogmitiae to protect the border against robbers and other threats. Vast government property was distributed to former officers, to begin a plentiful network of farms and pastures. Houses were also constructed along the Tiber, using supplies raided from Fidenae, beginning small-scale river trade.

Servius was known to be a peaceful ruler, serving until his death in 722. Of his three sons, his son Tiberinus would follow as king.

Reign of Tiberinus

Tiberinus became king in 722 and was crowned in the capital city of Alba Longa. Cautious of Etruscan expansion, Tiberinus began his reign by stationing several units of Diogmitiae along the Tiber River, the Latins' border against Etruscan aggression. Believed by many to be a paranoid individual, Tiberinus would commission a vast earthworks defense system along the Latin-Etruscan border. Taking several years to complete, the defenses known as the Aggeris Tiberini, or Tiberinus' Rampart, measured about thirty km in length, reaching four meters in height in most parts.

The defense network partially drained the Latins' coffers, forcing Tiberinus to focus on ways of improving his kingdom's economy. The layout and organization of farms in central Latinum were improved to produce a steady stream of food in case of war, eventually through trade and agriculture, Tiberinus would stabilize the kingdom's treasury. Tiberinus ruled until his dead in 698, leaving his son, Didius to rule over Alba Longa.



According to Greek legend, the Ἡρακλεῖδαι, or Heracleidae, were the descendants of the Greek hero Heracles, proclaimed son of Zeus and Greek champion. It is believed that Heracles was destined to rule over the kingdoms of Argos, Lacedaemon, and Messenian Pylos, but his rightful possessions had been stripped by Hera and had fallen into the hands of Eurystheus of Mycenae.

The Heracleidae fled to Athens, following the death of Heracles, finding refuge there from Eurystheus. Eurystheus demanded that they surrender to them, and later led an attack on Athens. The attack was unsuccessful and Eurystheus was slain in battle.

Following the attack Hyllus, son of Heracles, and his brothers led an invasion into Peloponnesus, finding moderate success. The forces of the Heracleidae were eventually forced to withdraw after one years time following a strong pestilence. The Heracleidae fled to Thessaly, the land of Aegimus who had aided Heracles against the Lapithae years earlier. Aegimus adopted Hyllus and gave him sections of his territory, alongside Aegimus’ sons, Pamphylus and Dymas. After the death of Aegimus his two sons submitted to Hyllus, who became the ruler of the Dorians, one of the main four ethnic groups of the Greeks, alongside the Aeolians, Achaeans, and Ionians.

Desiring to reclaim the lands destined to be ruled by Heracles, Hyllus prepared for war. After consulting with the Delphic oracle Hyllus waited three years, as spoken to him in his hearing, receiving word that after “three fruit” had been met, he would travel over a narrow passage and succeed. His forces marched across the isthmus of Corinth after the third year, attacking the city of Mycenae. Hyllus met on the fields of battle with Atreus, successor to Eurystheus. During his campaign Hyllus would be killed in single combat after a challenge from Echemus, king of Arcadia.

Another attempt to take Mycenae would be led years later by Cleodaeus, son of Hyllus, and grandson of Heracles. This attempt would also be repulsed. A fourth attempt under Aristomachus, son of Cleodaeus would be attempted, meeting the forces of Tisamenus, king of Argos, Mycenae, and Sparta, and again being repulsed. Finally the Aristomachus’ sons, Temenus, Cresphontes, and Aristodemus met with the oracle, complaining of its fatal, and unsuccessful instructions. Here they received word that the “three fruit” was instead referring to three generations, which had now passed, and that the “narrow passage” was not Corinth, but the Straits of Rhium.

Temenus met with the oracle a second time, this time being told that a guide with three eyes would lead him. He returned to Naupactus, on his way meeting an Aetolian named Oxylus, who had one eye. Temenus perceived this as a sign and pressed him into service. The Heracleidae managed to prepare a fleet, and set sail from Naupactus for the Peloponnesus. The state of Elis in Arcadia, from which Oxylus originated, aided the Heracleidae, as did the Aetolians. Temenus, accompanied by Oxylus and the forces of the Heracleidae, led the Aetolian and Dorian invaders, meeting a united Peloponnesian Achaean army, excluding Arcadia, lead by Tisamenus. The Heracleidae were successful and Tisamenus was slain in battle.

Following the successful battle, the Peloponnesus was divided among the three commanders, despite resistance still present in the region. Temenus would rule over Argos, Procles and Eurysthenes, sons of Aristodemus, would rule over Sparta, Cresphontes, son of Aristomachus, would rule over Messene, and Oxylus would rule the fertile lands of Elis.

Heraclid Rule

Following the successful conquests of the Heracleidae, much of the Peloponnesus was declared under Dorian rule, and the previous rulers, the Neleides and the Atreids, were forced to emigrate to Athens. The Dorians would heavy colonize Sparta, growing it from a small city state on the east of the central Eurotas valley to a large city state. Aristodemus’ untimely death left his infant sons Procles and Eurysthenes to rule Sparta. The problem of no designated successor was eventually resolved by decreeing that both children would rule the city state, creating a dual monarchy. Until their maturity Sparta was ruled by a Theban regent known as Theras, who was the brother of the childens’ mother.

In Messene Cresphontes was eventually able to be accepted as king, marrying Merope, the daughter of the Achaean king of Arcadia. This was successful until an insurrection was led by the Archaean noble families, assassinating Cresphontes and all of his sons, except his youngest, Aepytus, who was receiving schooling in Arcadia.

Years later, with assistance from the Dorian kingdoms of Sparta and Argos, and the Achaean kingdom of Arcadia, Aepytus would be restored as king of Messene. The insurgents were executed, and the locals were eventually swayed to follow Aepytus, who founded a new dynasty known as the Aepytidae. The Aepytidae would assimilate into Achaean culture, taking the ancient shrine on Mount Ithome as their own. They would also eventually join the yearly festival to Apollo at Delos, which was a central idea of the Ionians.

This rapid assimilation provoked and angered the Dorians of Messenia who viewed themselves as dominant over the Achaeans by right of conquest. This view was also supported by the Spartans who had managed to maintain Dorian cultural dominance over the Eurotas valley, forming the local Achaeans into the Spartan social class of perioeci, who were free, non-citizen Spartans.

By the mid 700’s BC the rivalry between Sparta and Messenia was beginning to reach its breaking point. The Achaeans and Dorians had been in constant rivalry since the return of the Heracleidae and the assimilation period of Messenia. This hatred led to an outburst of violence in 768 BC in which the Messenians, led by king Phintas, attended an Ionian festival where the Spartans were worshipping. Although no one knows of the exact chronology of the “raid”, several men were killed at the temple.

Another example of the hatred between the two groups is that of Polychares of Messenia, an Olympic athlete. Polychares leased lands from a Spartan named Euaiphnos, who sold his cattle to avoid them being used, claiming they were stolen. Polychares found out that cattle had been sold and demanded payment, so Euaiphnos departed with Polychares’ son to go take back the payment. Once over the border however, Euaiphnos killed the son, fleeing from Polychares. The Spartan magistrates were petitioned for justice, and eventually a Spartan delegation was sent to the kings of Messenia. The two parties began reviewing the history of the two states, but it eventually turned to violence. Following the failed attempt at peace, a large Spartan army was ordered to invade Messenia.

First Messenian War

At the time of the war the Spartan Constitution was in effect, producing a large professional army for use in the war. Approximately 3,000 infantry, and 1,500 cavalry was fielded by the Spartans. under the command of King Alcmenes. Without any notification of war, the Spartans approached the city of Ampheia, on the western flank of the Taygetus. The city held no garrison, and the Spartans were able to easily storm inside the city. Many of the civilians were killed, and the rest sold into slavery. The city would later become the site of future operations into Messenia, housing the large Spartan garrison.

When news of the Spartan invasion reached the Messenian capital of Stenkleros, king Euphaes addressed a crowd of Messenians, encouraging his citizens to enlist in the military. Those suitable for battle inside the city were equipped and trained. The Messenian's strategy was to employ fixed defenses by fortifying inside well defended towns and avoid raids against the Spartans.

At first the Spartans focused on raiding small farms and undefended areas to seize grain and other valuables. The Spartans were were ordered to leave buildings and other natural resources unharmed for future use. With the Messenians deep within their many fortified towns the Spartans were unable to dislodge them, while the Messenians were unable to attack the main Spartan army up front. The war would continue like this, with the Messenians choosing to occasionally assault small undefended sections of the Spartan border.

By the summer of 739 Euphaes became determined to change the tide of the war. The Messenians were robbed of their countryside and were forced to attack the Spartans to remove them from their country. By now the volunteers from Stenkleros had been effectively trained and equipped, and Euphaes believed they were ready to meet the professional Spartan army.

Euphaes' army was ordered from Stenkleros toward the Spartans. Behind them their supply trains carried large quantities of timber and other stockade materials, planned to be used to construct a fortified base near the Spartans. Unknownst to the Messenians, the Spartans tracked the movement of the advancing army and ordered reinforcements from Sparta. As the Spartan army approached the Messenians Euphaes carefully selected a site for his army to defend. The Messenians established camp on the border of an impassible ravine, using their carried building materials to construct a fort.

Hoping to attack the exposed Messenians before their camp could be constructed, the Spartan commanders ordered their force upstream to cross the ravine and outflank the Messenians, but this was anticipated by the Messenians. A Messenian force under Pytharatos and Antandros of about 500 cavalry and light infantry met the Spartans at the end of the ravine, preventing them from getting to the camp, which was completed the next day. Blocked by the fortified camp, the Spartans were forced to withdraw from Messenia, leaving an inconclusive battle, and the Messenians the tactical advantage.

Magna Graecia


During the reign of Servius in Latinum, a large wave of Greek settlers reached Sicily in the south. The emigration was driven by several factors in Greece, most notably overpopulation and famine. The search for new commercial ports for trade led to the creation of several prosperous towns in southern Italy. Greece, largely surrounded by the sea, turned to trade over the vast sea early on, trading raw materials over the Mediterranean like never before.

The cities of southern Italy remained politically independent entities, maintaining strong religious and trade ties. Unlike the Greek homeland where marble was plentiful, the Greeks of Sicily and southern Italy crafted local limestone, creating large harbors for trade.

The city of Κύμη (Cumae) was founded in the 750’s BC by Euboean Greeks, growing to become one of the dominant cities in the south. The colony thrived and would become strong enough to exert its dominance over the local area, aiding in several colonial foundings. The city become one of many influential trading stations, were Greek pottery, bronze, silver, gold, olive oil, wine, and textiles, were exchanged for luxury items and exotic raw materials from Italy. Much of the fertile Campanian plains would come under Cumae’s domain as the city expanded, much to the displeasure of the inland Etruscans. The Greek city states would also make contact with the Samnites, who occupied the region of Samnium, south of Latinum. The introduction of Greek culture would lead to an increase in goods between Sicily and Latinum, helping to fuel the creation of several large towns and wealthy farmlands.


In the late 700’s BC another powerful city would be founded looked over the Ionian Sea, approximately 14.5 metres above sea level. The Greek colony, surrounded by the Murgia plateau to the northwest and east, would be known as Τάρᾱς Tarās, and would later be referred to by the Latins as Tarentum. Immediately a city wall was constructed from local timber, and foundations were laid for a future temple. Most importantly, like all Greek colonies, a strong port was laid out to facilitate trade back to Greece and ship supplies and resources over the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. The city would be generally protected by sea by the two islets marking where the commercial port began. The area would also eventually house a flourishing fishing community and an important military port.

The city’s founders, Dorian immigrants, would establish the city of Τάρᾱς Tarās as the first Spartan colony on the Italian peninsula. The immigrants were of a lower ranking class of Spartans known as Partheniae, who were sons of unmarried Spartan women and perioeci. The creation of the Partheniae is believed to have been decreed by the Spartans in an effort to increase the number of Spartans eligible for the military. After the Messenian Wars the low-ranking sons were forced to leave, seeing that their use was no longer needed.

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