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Master of Rome is an alternate history scenario. It shows Mark Antony's decisive victory in the Battle of Actium on September 2 31 BC, which resulted in the death of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, the man responsible for the victories of Octavian, Mark Antony's rival in the Final War of the Roman Republic. Antony proclaims himself Emperor of Rome, and a different Roman Empire appears.
The Final War of the Roman Republic was a civil war fought between the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian, beginning in 32 BC. In 31 BC, Antony led a naval force to the Ionian Sea, near the Roman colony of Actium in Greece. Octavian's fleet, under Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, met Antony's fleet outside the Gulf of Actium on September 2 31 BC.
Point of Divergence
Prior to the Battle of Actium, in OTL, Antony's general, Quintus Dellius, defected to Octavian with Antony's war plans. However, in this scenario, Antony was informed of Dellius' intention and sent 15 soldiers to intercept Dellius, who was captured and brought to Antony before he could find Octavian. Antony immediately ordered the execution of Dellius.
On September 2, the battle began. Octavian's Liburnian vessels faced a big challenge from Antony's quinqueremes. While some Liburnian vessels were sunk, Antony's inexperience in a naval theater let both sides to battle with no decisive result until the afternoon, when Antony successfully gained an advantage over the enemy fleet. His warships put Octavian's fleet into total disarray. Agrippa saw this and tried to advance towards Antony, but his ship was exposed to a direct assault after some ships which protected it were sunk.
Antony moved forward as his ship became closer and closer to Agrippa's ship. Finally, Antony's ship was close enough to Agrippa's for Antony and his soldiers to jump to Agrippa's ship. Agrippa's soldiers were killed on board or thrown off the ship by Antony's soldiers. Within a short time, Antony and Agrippa were involved in a duel. Agrippa was defeated, and the injured commander was left to fate, being thrown overboard to the Ionian Sea. The Battle of Actium ended with a decisive victory for Antony.
Antony mobilized his troops to Italy, capturing few settlements loyal to Octavian before besieging Rome on November 15. As the siege progressed, the city ran out of food. Finally, Octavian led his soldiers to attack Antony outside the walls of Rome on December 3. Octavian was killed, and Antony entered the city, as the winner of the Roman Republic's last civil war.
On December 4, a day after capturing Rome, Antony officially dissolved the Senate, who declared him outlaw a year before, and proclaimed himself Augustus, effectively becoming the first ruler of a Roman Empire. Antony's lover, Cleopatra VIII, queen of Egypt, was crowned Empress of Rome at the same day.
No "Pax Romana" existed during Antony's rule. He led troops on military expeditions to Dacia (conquered 28 BC), Sarmatia (conquered 27 BC), Germania (conquered 26 BC) and the Parthian Empire (conquered 22 BC). In 18 BC, all vassal states of Rome were directly annexed through diplomacy. In 13 BC, Antony conquered all of Scythia. In 6 BC, he led his army as they gained the Indian subcontinent. In 1 AD, Antony conquered the Arabian Peninsula.
The highly-popular Antony died at the age of 90 in 8 AD, leaving his chosen heir, 54-year-old Caesarion, son of Cleopatra and the previous Roman dictator Julius Caesar, as the Roman Emperor. Caesarion reformed the empire's administrative and military system before dying in 39 AD. He was succeeded by his competent son Vilnius, who was replaced by his son, Matius, upon his death in 60 AD.
Starting in between the reigns of Caesarion and Vilnius, Pax Romana began, much later than in the OTL. Matius was followed successively by Vilnius II, Matius II, Marcus Etimonius, Marcus Vettius, Alexander Vilnius, Emerestus and Julius Etimonius. Julius Etimonius was better known as Julius the Magnificent. He conquered all of Britain, Tibet and expanded his empire to the southern end of the Sahara Desert. Etimonius died in 267 AD.
The Great Imperial Crisis
Etimonius died without a legitimate heir, in the middle of a dispute between potential candidates for the throne. Between 267 and 325 AD, 67 emperors held the throne for a short time before being assassinated. During this time, several provinces broke off, and barbaric tribes raided the empire's borders. In 279 AD, the independent Sarmatians attacked the empire, reaching regions as far as Gaul, and devastating Rome's power there.
In 304 AD, the Romans were forced out of Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and Parthia. In 312 AD, an uprising in Britain caused Romans to leave the place forever. In 310 AD, the Romans of North Africa retreated, due to popular uprisings and barbarian raids, to Egypt. The Arabian Peninsula was abandoned in 320 AD. At the same time, Christianity was growing within the Roman Empire. In 325 AD, Malchi, a prominent army and naval commander from the province of Dalmatia, became the Roman Emperor. He swiftly ordered the removal of all potential rivals and opponents. With the successful removal of Malchi's rivals and opponents, his position was safe. The empire, now reduced to Italy, the Balkans, Anatolia, the Near East and Egypt, was stabilized, essentially ending the crisis.
Roman Christianity and barbaric attacks
Malchi proved to be a man who accepted new ideas. He was secretly baptized into Christianity in 322 AD, 3 years before gaining the imperial throne. He decided against another expansion, and focused on the stability and wealth of Rome. In 330 AD, he declared Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. Paganism was officially outlawed, and pagans, along with Jews, were forced to turn to Christianity, or be burned at the stake. Before the execution of each pagan and Jew, the convicted person was presented with an "Agreement of God", offering a last chance to turn to Christianity. If the convicted person refused, he was offered a "Rites of Hell", a set of poems praising God and wishing for His mercy to the convicted one, before execution.
In 340 AD, Malchi wrote the Rights and Wealth of People, considered by modern scholars to be the earliest trace of communism. The Rights and Wealth of People became increasingly dominant within the empire's administrative and political system. In 369 AD, Emperor Condidus coined the term "communism", an ideology based on the aforementioned book Rights and Wealth of People. Communism became the official ideology of the empire. This was considered controversial, since the empire, under communism, slowly tarnished the Church's religious authority around Rome.
In 418 AD, barbarians from the deserts of Arabia ravaged Egypt and the Near East, forcing the Romans out of both regions. Several counteroffensives only resulted in systematical devastation of the Roman army. In 429 AD, the new Gallic Kingdom attacked Italy and the Balkans. By 450 AD, the empire consisted only the exclave of Rome in the Italian Peninsula and the Balkans. In 458 AD, Rome was lost to the invading Lombards, and the capital was moved to Athens. The Church claimed divine intervention in the ousting of Romans, who adhered to "anti-God" communism, out of Italy. Angered at the Church's comment, Emperor Judas II banned Christianity in 459 AD and announced that adherence to communism is compulsory.
In 462 AD, Judas II made a revision to the ideology, in which he stated that the ruling figure of each organization should be worshipped. Temples dedicated to the Roman sovereign was erected all over the empire, and an imperial cult, called Cult of the Divine Ruler, appeared in 463 AD. This was the end of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
The empire's new style
Judas II was one of the most notorious Romans at the time. In 464 AD, he divided the empire, now consisting of only the Balkans, to 18 provinces, from the original 2 provinces (Macedonia Inferior and Macedonia Superior). Since they only ruled small provinces, the governors were unable to rebel against the emperor in Athens. In 466 AD, the empire and several neighboring nations were hit by an economic recession. Judas II declared that the province of Morea, Attica Superior and Attica Inferior would be sold to the Kingdom of Gaul. The capital was moved from Athens, sold to Gaul, to Constantinople, on the shores of the Bosporus.
However, the empire continued to suffer from economic difficulties. Finally, in 474 AD, Judas II recognized the financial collapse of the empire. He sold some provinces in the north to neighboring nations. In 476 AD, Judas II divided the empire's remaining territories to 29 small provinces, some of them consisting of only a city, and nothing more. An example of this was the province of Konstantinopolis (Constantinople).
In 477 AD, Judas II punished the rebelling Consul Fabius Phillipus Xapides to death by hanging. The death of a popular figure in the nation angered citizens. In 480 AD, Judas II was killed in a coup d'etat by Consul Marcus Spidamenes, who crowned himself Emperor Marcus III.
Marcus III introduced a new government style for the empire. He delegated some power to a master consul, the first being famous military commander Maxius Catalixus. He balanced power between the monarch and the Senate. To prevent governors from rebelling, Marcus III further divided the empire to 89 tiny districts, later divided to 156 municipalities, each having little influence over the central government.
Marcus and the empire's revival
Under Marcus, the empire entered another period of Pax Romana. Women were given more rights in the household over men, while the rights of men over women in the household were lessened, to ensure balance and stability. Slaves were also given rights and privileges. Meanwhile, the military was strengthened and sophisticated.
However, Pax Romana was forced to end early, in 486 AD, as the emperor retook parts of the Balkan from the Gauls and brought back Asia Minor to the empire, firmly establishing a core for the empire, which was able to provide regeneration for the empire in case it came under the threat of danger and collapse. Therefore, the defense of Asia Minor and Balkan Peninsula was deemed crucial for the empire's viability and existence.
Throughout Marcus' reign, the Near East was conquered, followed by the Arabian Peninsula, all of North Africa, the Italian Peninsula, Gaul, Iberia, Britain, Ireland, Crimea, rival Sassanid Empire, Indian subcontinent and Tibet. Marcus died in 530 AD, just after relocating the capital city from Constantinople to Rome, symbolizing the empire's return to its original homeland. The center of Roman power shifted from the Balkans, back to the Italian Peninsula. He left the Roman Empire as the dominant military, economy and political power within the Mediterranean area.
Marcus' son, Lucius IV "the Wise", reorganized the empire, from over 2000 tiny municipalities to 28 provinces. In a shocking turn of events, Lucius converted to Buddhism, much to the curiosity of his Christian citizens. Lucius declared freedom of religion and freedom of worship in 538 AD. During the reign of Lucius, Rome experienced one of the most peaceful times. The only war during Lucius' reign was the Roman-Chinese War, which culminated in the conquest of China in 551 AD. Korea and Japan became vassal states. When Lucius died in 554 AD, the empire's position was secured.