What if the Greeks had won the Battle of Alalia?

Some time between 540 and 535 BC, the Phocaean Greeks of Massillia (modern Marseilles) fought a naval battle with an Etruscan-Carthaginian alliance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Alalia The Greeks lost, the Carthaginians retained Sardinia, the Etruscans took over Corsica, and this battle is generally reckoned as marking the end of Greek colonization in the Western Mediterranean; the Greeks never founded a colony-city further west than Massillia, and the Carthaginians closed the Strait of Gibraltar to Greek shipping. Henceforth, the Western Mediterranean would be left for the Romans and the Carthaginians to tussle over.

What if the Greeks had won? Would they have continued their westward colonization? Would they have founded cities on the coast of Spain? Would they have gone beyond the Strait of Gibraltar? How would that have affected the rise of Rome and the Punic Wars?

Nobody has an opinion?

Or even a guess?

Working on finding certain books, okay? Buried 'em months ago.

The Red Sox would have never come back from that 0-3 deficit against the Yankees in the ALCS.

You need to ask Victor Davis Hanson at:


Scroll down halfway for his books on Greek military history

The Greeks did have colonies in Spain

It’s not what you’re looking for exactly, but you might find this interesting: V. D. Hanson contributed an alternative-history essay “No Glory That Was Greece: The Persians Win at Salamis, 480 B.C.” for the counterfactual compendium What If?: The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been [ed. by Robert Cowley, 1999].

Which is the book I was looking for. Can’t find it. My 100 Battles That Changed History is with my father, I know that…

Possible, but probably not terribly likely. As noted the chief motivator for the founding of Alalia ( and perhaps more importantly Elea in Magna Grecia ) was the Persian conquest. The period of Greek colonization seems to have come to an end right about then - local concerns not surprisingly trumping foreign adventures.

Meanwhile it seems clear that centralized Carthage had stolen a march on the very non-centralized Greek city-states of the western Mediterranean. Even if Alalia had been a victory. it probably wouldn’t have presaged any permanent shift in power dynamics. A true state that encompassed wealthy Magna Grecia and eastern Sicily would have been formidable indeed ( later Pyrrhus took a shot at forming one ). But it never happened and new colonies, while maintaining friendly relations with their founders, were quite independent. They would have continued to go there own way and cities like Syracuse, Massilia or Cumae, formidable as they may have been individually, could not compete in the long run with a city like Carthage that governed its colonies as posessions.

I doubt it would have had that much impact. Corsica was always peripheral and while Massilia was in fact a consistent Roman ally, they probably wouldn’t have been noticeably weaker or stronger given a change in the outcome of Alalia. They suffered no territorial losses in defeat and they would have gained none in victory, while any increase in trading influence again would likely have been transitory. Carthage was just better at organizing resources.

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Oh and as noted, this is inaccurate. Note Empuries/Emporion, still quite independent at the time of the Roman conquest:


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