Alternative History



The Roman empire at its greatest extent in Our Timeline

In Our Timeline, Rome was one of - if not the - most influential nations to ever exist. It spread its influence across the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, Greece, Gaul, and other areas. Rome's legendary status also spread across this area, only falling apart when the nation was finally destroyed. In its time, it ruled massive parts of the civilized world, and was far more powerful than any other nation that existed at the time. In fact, it is still very influential - Many parts of the modern world are also heavily shaped by this ancient civilization, such as the law, the government, and our society in general.

Of course this massive amount of influence simply begs the question: what if Rome had fallen apart early? What if such a powerful and influential society had been strangled in its crib? This would clearly have massive implications across all facets of the society that exists today. With history so dramatically altered, what would stay the same? What could stay the same? And more importantly, what would be different. These are the questions I intend to explore in this timeline, and to look into every aspect of the world today if Rome had fallen early in the following way.

Explanation of Title

The title of this timeline - Vae victis - is loosely translated Latin for Woe to the vanquished, or sometimes woe to the conquered. The phrase is supposed to remind the defeated that they are the losers, and should not expect, or ask for, any leniency in their defeat. This phrase was used — according to legend — after Brennus had taken over Rome and defeated multiple armies. He said this to Marcus Furius Camillus during negotiations, right before stabbing him through his heart, thus immortalizing the phrase and ensuring it's us in many future battles.

Point of Divergence


In 387 BCE the Senone, a Gallic tribe in northern Italy, crossed the Apennines and eventually camped out near Clusiam, in the Etruscan province of Siana. They were lead by Brennus, and their goal was to settle new lands in order to deal with the growing numbers of their tribe. Naturally, the Etruscans felt threatened by the Gauls, and asked the Romans, who had military influence over the area, for help. Rome, not wanting war, decided to only send ambassadors to help, rather than fighting men. They did however rally an army as back up, but kept it well within Roman territory.

Brennus overlooks the city of Clusiam

This proved to be a mistake, as when negotiations broke down, Clusiam sent solders to force the Senone off their land. The Roman troops were unaware of this, and as a result could not help. Instead of the army, the Roman ambassadors joined the Etruscans in fighting, thus breaking the law of nations, which prevented ambassadors from engaging in combat. As if this wasn't bad enough, a Roman ambassador killed a high ranking Senone chieftain - enraging the Senone army. When Rome refused to turn the ambassadors over for justice, the Senone abandond their attack on Etrusca, and instead began to march south to take revenge on Rome.

Point of Divergence

A depiction of Rome after the Senone sacked it

The Senone marched towards Rome far too fast for a counter offense to be mounted, and thus, with that option extinguished, the only option was a strong defense. This failed spectacularly at the battle of Allia, were 14,000 Senone troops nearly massacred almost 24,000 Roman soldiers, losing only 2,000 of their own and allowing the Roman survivors fleeing to Rome. With the Romans retreating, Brennus made the quick judgement call to chase them, instead of letting them go. Quickly, he reassembeld his army and marched after the Romans. Because of this, both sides arrived in Rome within days of each other, and fighting ensued.

Just before the Senone arrived, the senate passed a ruling making Marcus Furius Camillus the dictator of Rome. However, this measure was quickly forgotten as Senone arrived and launched a massive attack on the city. After hours of fighting, unlike in our timeline, the Senone managed to take Capitoline Hill. The control of this location allowed them to annihilate Rome, killing the senate and looting the city. Now, with the senate and Rome destroyed, the Senones were now at a crossroads: should they take there victory and leave, or attempt to take Veii, where Marcus Furius Camillus was. Whichever decision they made, it was bound to change the course of history for millennia to come...

Welcome to Væ victis!