Alexander III Dies at Age 65...

…Well, obviously, not really. Alexander III of Macedon (aka Alexander The Great) died in Babylon at the age of 32. At the time of his death he was planning a campaign on the Arabian Penninsula and had supposedly begun to be concerned about an up-and-coming tribe of Italians. Also true of his death is that he had no grown sons and had not established an official succession. This resulted in a number of internal wars and the fracturing of his empire.

So what if he hadn’t died of fever (or poisoning) at such a young age? How would the history of the Western world been changed - particularly in the period of 323-0BC?

I think that he wouldn’t have expanded his Empire too much more since he needed to consolidate what he had conquered. I think what would have changed was his succession. He was survived by a wife and son, who were killed by Cassander. Had Alexander survived, his son was more likely to have survived, and he was more likely to have had additional children.

One more aspect would have been that he probably would have shifted his capital eastwards as Macedon would have been on the fringes of the empire. Moving the capital to Babylon makes sense, although Alexander’s base was still in Macedon.

Alexander dying and the empire splitting up was probably the best outcome they could have had. I don’t know if keeping that Empire united was really a possibility. His top generals rules their different Imperials fiefs and maintained a sort of high culture over the populations they ruled that provided a global cultural continuity. I am not sure what Alexander could have accomplished that didn’t involve being a bloodthirsty tyrant.

I don’t know. It seems to me that the Empire was relatively stable at his death (of course, not after). He had more or less trusted men in most key positions and the Empire would have had another 30+ years to continue to stabilize. The Indian satrapies would have broken off in all but name, but I don’t think he cared much about that. If he had time to raise Alexander IV, I’m not sure the Empire would have fractured. I guess the biggest question is what would have happened when (and if) the Macedonian and Roman Empires had clashed.

Alexander III was an explosively violent, alcoholic, paranoid, obsessive, narcissistic megalomaniac. He was also sentimental and grandly romantic of course ( not to mention an undeniably charismatic, brilliant general ). But a happy family court equivalent to Attalus I’s in Pergamun seems highly unlikely. It may well be that an adult Alexander “IV” would be at nearly as much threat from from his volatile, suspicious father as he ended up being from Cassander. Oh, no doubt Alexander III would have wailed and tore his clothes after stabbing his son in the liver for arguing with him over wine, but small consolation that would have been ;).

Also Alexander was obviously a fertile-enough fellow. Had he lived longer we might have been looking at multiple competeing princes all vying for control at his death.

It is likely Alexander would have turned his restless ambition west towards places like Magna Grecia, the young Roman state and Carthage. The outcomes of any such campaigns are of course beyond speculative, but I guess I wouldn’t be the one to bet against Alex. But I disagree that his state was stable at his death - it was a ramshackle, incompletely conquered edifice. Even at his death sizeable chunks of Asia Minor, bypassed by his rapid movement, were unconquered and Greece was about to explode into revolt. These challenges would likely have continued, even as he marched westward. While he may well have contained them while he lived, decentralization was probably inevitable, with likely an Achaemenid-style satrapy system which would have been ripe for implosion into secessionist states as happened during the Wars of the Diadochi.

I guess two big speculations I could throw out there that might substantially change history is:

1.) Following an Argead conquest, a Magna Grecia-based ( because it surely wouldn’t center in Latium ) Diadochid state that encompassed Italy and pre-empted the rise of Rome. The possibilities here for change are conceivably quite profound. They might be speaking a bastardized Greek dialect in France today, instead of a Latinate tongue.

2.) An Argead heir, son of an Achaemenid princess, raised in Babylon, forming a far more cohesive and unified Greco-Persian empire than that raised by the Seleucids ( who were as throughly bigoted and exclusionary against non-Greeks as most Macedonians, Peucestes excluded ). That could potentially be a true powerhouse.

I’ve read speculation that the Greeks were on the verge of an industrial revolution, (the name Archimedes came up a lot) and then Rome came along, and turned up their noses at all that low class Greek tinkering. Unsupported by those in power, mechanical innovation was stymied by the intellectual indifference of the Roman mindset, and industrial progress had to wait until early nineteenth-century Britain.

As I’ve said, it was speculation.