How Many U.S. Marines Could Bring Down the Roman Empire?

It all start­ed as a thought exper­i­ment on when a user posed the ques­tion: “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire dur­ing the reign of Augus­tus if I trav­eled back in time with a mod­ern U.S. Marine infantry bat­tal­ion or MEU?”

Then the Red­dit user offered a more pre­cise sce­nario:

Let’s say we go back in time with a Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit (MEU) … could we destroy all 30 of Augus­tus’ legions?

We’d be up against near­ly 330,000 men since each legion was com­prised of 11,000 men. These men are typ­i­cal­ly equipped with limb and tor­so armor made of met­al, and for weapon­ry they car­ry swords, spears, bows and oth­er stab­bing imple­ments. We’d also encounter siege weapons like cat­a­pults and crude incen­di­ary weapons.

We’d be made up of about 2000 mem­bers, of which about half would be par­tic­i­pat­ing in ground attack oper­a­tions. We can use our mech­a­nized vehi­cles (60 Humvees, 16 armored vehi­cles, etc), but we can­not use our attack air sup­port, only our trans­port air­craft.

We also have medics with us, mod­ern med­ical equip­ment and drugs, and engi­neers, but we no longer have a mag­i­cal time-trav­el­ing sup­ply line (we did have but the timelords frowned upon it, sad­ly!) that pro­vides us with all the ammu­ni­tion, equip­ment and sus­te­nance we need to sur­vive. We’ll have to suc­ceed with the stuff we brought with us.

So, will we be vic­to­ri­ous?

The ques­tion touched off a fren­zy of dis­cus­sion. One user, James Erwin, wrote a short sto­ry, Rome Sweet Rome, imag­in­ing how the bat­tles might play out, and Warn­er Bros. came along and bought the movie rights to the sto­ry.

And now pro­fes­sion­al his­to­ri­ans are weigh­ing in. Inter­viewed in Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics, his­to­ri­an Adri­an Goldswor­thy, an expert on the Roman army, offered these thoughts:

Obvi­ous­ly, there is a mas­sive dif­fer­ence in fire­pow­er. Not only would Roman armor be use­less against a rifle round—let alone a grenade launch­er or a .50 cal­iber machine gun—it would prob­a­bly dis­tort the bullet’s shape and make the wound worse.

But here comes the dif­fi­cul­ty:

In the short term and in the open, mod­ern infantry could mas­sacre any ancient sol­diers at lit­tle risk to them­selves. But you could not sup­port mod­ern infantry. So all of these weapons and vehi­cles could make a brief, dra­mat­ic, and even dev­as­tat­ing appear­ance, but would very quick­ly become use­less. Prob­a­bly in a mat­ter of days.… Marines are the best war­riors ever trained. But they can’t fight an end­less wave of sol­diers. No one can.

You can find the rest of Goldswor­thy’s thoughts here, and sev­er­al good Roman his­to­ry cours­es in our big col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es.

via Andrew Sul­li­van

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Comments (77)
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  • Despite spend­ing more mon­ey on killing than all oth­er coun­tries put togeth­er the telling point here is Amer­i­cans have, in the absence of an hon­ourable vic­to­ry or defeat resort­ed to fan­ta­siz­ing over bat­tles with armies from antiq­ui­ty.

    It says a lot. They can always jerk off to the Indi­ans that were wiped out in their mil­lions but that one is a lit­tle too close to home.

  • Raymond says:

    The answer is: NO. The moment the US sol­diers start fir­ing, all of the marines whose sur­names end in a vocal would van­ish cause lets face it if you’re Amer­i­can you’re Ital­ian or you’re Irish

  • Abdul Basir Muhammad says:

    His­to­ri­ans under­es­ti­mate gap in tac­tics the shock an awe of our mod­ern weapons will dis­rupt the com­mand and con­trol struc­ture of any sin­gle legion . A few spec­tac­u­lar vic­to­ries is all that is need­ed the legions will fall apart and prob­a­bly even mass defec­tions.

  • Bart says:

    I’m in to nego­ti­ate with the emper­or, can I bring my Latin teacher too?

  • Michelle says:

    Every­one needs to remem­ber to stick to the ques­tion and leave your com­ments or thoughts about the US any­thing at the door…It would be a wave of force unlike all oth­ers but the Marines would have to make each and every thing count. Noth­ing could be wast­ed because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Now, peo­ple are focus­ing on the hard­ware deple­tion when, as Abdul said, they have to remem­ber anoth­er huge factor..the psy­cho­log­i­cal one. Once the first vol­ley is fired and they see those tanks it’s pret­ty much over. Any mod­ern leader worth their salt would be using that to their utmost advan­tage.

  • The sto­ry of Isaac Asmi­mov’s Foun­da­tion series keeps repeat­ing. It’s the lit­tle things that bring down an empire. Every­thing in our mod­ern world is total­ly depen­dent on tech­nol­o­gy. The Romans would win eas­i­ly.

  • Steve says:

    One Marine sniper team will cre­ate hav­oc as the Roman offi­cers are killed off because they would­n’t know to take cov­er at such a dis­tance from the ene­my. The the legions will begin to see the con­tem­po­rary weapons caus­ing dev­as­ta­tion on their ranks and, par­tic­u­lar­ly with their offi­cers killed at a great and unimag­in­able dis­tance, run like hell.

  • Juan says:

    Although I appre­ci­ate the his­tor­i­cal curios­i­ty, I am glad to see I was not the only one think­ing that it is a very fas­cist ques­tion. We are lit­er­al­ly fan­ta­siz­ing with the death and suf­fer­ing of thou­sands of men (even Roman sol­diers who made that mat­ter exact­ly their own busi­ness). Of course, we are also for­get­ting the casu­al­ties among our own Marines. Plus the heavy civil­ian dying and suf­fer­ing that takes place in every con­quest.

  • bennet says:

    Gor­don of Khar­toum inflict­ed 11,000 casu­al­ties on the Mahdi’s army for the loss of 50 of his own men — and that was over 100 years ago. Sim­ple maths would imply that the marines would­n’t have too much trou­ble.

  • Jose Mendes says:

    Think of Pizarro and Cortez and the Aztec and Inca Empires. A mod­ern invad­ing force, if sim­ply intent on using mil­i­tary pow­er might even be defeat­ed if a gueril­la type of war devel­oped on the lines of “mod­erns” agains “ancients”. But you would have to be a pret­ty thick com­man­der if you did not play pow­er pol­i­tics with the ancients.

    Rome was a very divid­ed soci­ety: With­in fac­tions of the tiny rulling elite, between rich cit­i­zens and poor cit­i­zens. Between the met­ro­pol­i­tan mem­bers of the rulling class and the provin­cial mag­nates. Between Romans and the dif­fer­ent sub­ject­ed peo­ples of the empire. And of course the slave class whose revolts were always feared.

    I sug­est you read Peter Heather’s The fall of the Roman Empire. There he points out that one over­looked but impor­tant ele­ment on the fall of the Empire was the break­down of social order in the coun­try­side sparked by the bar­bar­ian inva­sions. A bar­bar­ian army or peo­ple would come into a province forc­ing at the very least, the legions to retreat and con­cen­trate to strong­holds. With­out the back up of that mil­i­tary arm the rur­al pop­u­la­tion (com­posed of slaves from great noble estates or sup­pos­ed­ly free peas­ants who were half bond­ed by debt to the local mag­nates) took to plun­der­ing and attack­ing a social order that did noth­ing for them, form­ing bands of “brig­antes” i.e. thiefs and rebels that often would fol­low the bar­bar­ian armies to re-plun­der a recent­ly attacked province and effec­tive­ly pre­vent­ed that province to rebuild itself and become a use­full tax pay­ing part of the Empire again.

    Using super­sti­tion, using the sup­port of some pop­u­la­tion groups against oth­ers and even using the exter­nal ene­mies of Rome like the Per­sian Empire, you could indeed defeat the roman Empire.

    On top of that you can use both the sys­tem the british used to rule India (using local rulers…from chief­tains to prop­er client Arme­nia, Gala­tia etc) or the Manchu to rule China…by appro­pri­at­ing the Ming admin­is­tra­tion and pow­er struc­tures.

  • Jose Mendes says:

    And why kill te poor Roman sol­diers? A cou­ple of explo­sions and the flight of a few heli­copters over their heads and they would be run­ning to the hills think­ing the gods had come down to Earth. Think of the impact that see­ing span­ish sol­diers rid­ding hors­es had on inca and aztec war­riors. They were ter­ri­fied! In a world were humans have not start­ed dream­ing about fly­ing to have a scary noisy heli­copter fly­ing above you would be more than enough to scater a legion and make for­ti­fied cities open their gates.

    I myself with fly over the city of Rome and throw loafs of bread to the scared pop­u­lace with print­ed leaflets in latin say­ing the gods sent me to rule Rome and pun­ish injus­tice and see how that went down. At the very least I would be cre­at­ing a fac­tion inside the city to sup­port me.

    Or use fire­works for a few nights (care­ful not to burn the city down) before enter­ing as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the gods.
    It is also a time were army oper­a­tions had to be lim­it­ed to sea­sons when armies could feed off the land (i.e. rob­bing the peas­ants) so a mod­ern army with enough sup­plies and using mod­ern logis­tics would have a huge advan­tage in the win­ter.

    You could also attack the Empire grad­u­al­ly. Start with a rich province like Sici­ly that can pro­vide for your mod­ern troops basic needs and start basic sup­port indus­tries for your inva­sion army. Get the locals to pro­vide the bulk of an army that the mod­ern troops will be the back bone of.

  • Jose Mendes says:

    Just read the Rome sweet Rome sto­ry and not con­vinced by it.

    Like the Earth­quake and then the sol­diers find them­selves in a dif­fer­ent time and place. But how long would it take you to realise you are 1st in Italy (spe­cial­ly if you have aero­planes which would allow you to start recog­nis­ing basic geog­ra­phy points.…would you real­ly miss the alps or the Po val­ley or mount Etna? If you do you should not be fly­ing an aero­plane) And sure­ly the abun­dance of olive trees would be a give away that you had moved from Afghanistan to some­where in the Mediter­ranean basin.

    It could take a bit more time to find, or after find­ing, accept­ing, that you are in a dif­fer­ent time con­tinum.

    The author is also not using the biggest weapons at our dis­pos­al: super­sti­tion, knoledge of our ene­my, our tech­no­log­i­cal supe­ri­or­i­ty in litle things, food preser­va­tion, basic med­ical relief…

    The issue of morale is interesting…a few roman wench­es, the idea that we are all in this togeth­er and the pos­si­bilites offered by know­ing that you would be part of the rul­ing elite and live quite well off should cheer one up…but also start inter­nal con­flicts.

    He doe­sent say much of the civil­ian con­trac­tors and that offers so many sto­ry line pos­si­bil­i­ties my head spins. Imag­ine a nice look­ing UN vol­un­teer, altru­isitc, head set on improv­ing the world, act­ing like a moral voice and ele­ments more inter­est­ed in tak­ing advan­tage of the situation…oh those roman wench­es again…and the mil­i­tary in the mid­dle try­ing to keep the whole group together…with a vision that the amer­i­can con­sti­tu­tion knows best but also that you need order to win a war and keep an empire and that human rights for all are ide­al but might be the first casu­al­ty of war (umm do we lib­er­ate the slaves or not…specially when the roman wench­es we like so much would as slaves mend our socks and do oth­er things just as we like it..which they might not want to do if they are free)

  • Jose Mendes says:

    Regard­ing the mat­ter of supplies…well we should know more or less where to find them no? We just need to explore the resources and set up those basic sup­port indus­tries I men­tioned before. We know we can find oil easy­ly (on the sur­face even) in some parts of the world (Azer­bai­jan, Irak) so we just need to know how to refine it…and its just basic chem­istry.

    Food can be sourced localy…it is after all what the armies of that time did. Goat and sheeps meat is deli­cious, a few cheeses, bread and olives stolen from the local peas­ants or nego­ti­at­ed with the local chief­tains (if out of Italy) and even local author­i­ties, and you have an army well fed untill you are pow­er­full enough to demand trib­ute.

    Amu­ni­tion and gun pow­der can be fab­ri­cat­ed in rudi­men­ta­ry ways if you know how to do it…even a mod­est offi­cer would have enough knoledge of mil­i­tary his­to­ry to know the weak­ness­es of the roman army and a few basic weapons that can be fab­ri­cat­ed and are effec­tive againt the romans…again use dis­a­fect­ed locals to use these and you keep the XXIst cen­tu­ry stuff for your­self.

    Both Pizarro and Cortez were quick to find indige­nous mis­tress­es of sub­ject­ed tribes who were fun­da­men­tal to estab­lish span­ish rule in the americas…there are plen­ty of slaves, peas­ants, con­quered tribes that would be all too hap­py to give you a hand to defeat the Coortes.

  • Jose Mendes says:

    Lan­guage would not be an exces­sive obsta­cle. Yes the latin lan­guage speak­ers would be very use­full (Span­ish, Ital­ian, Por­tuguese, French Romanian)…any of them would be very quick to point out that the lan­guage on mile stones, stae­las, etc

    A catholic chap­lain could be usefull…I dont think they have to learn latin these days but they still need to know some expres­sions (canon­i­cal right).

    Even you eng­lish speak­ers would be amased how much latin you could under­stand if you made an effort.

    On Rome sweet Rome I also dont like the fact that the dif­fer­ent sol­diers are not treat­ed as indi­vid­u­als with lives before being draft­ed. Every­body has tal­ents and inter­ests that could sure­ly be used. A for­mer farmer would know alot about agri­cul­ture. The son of a min­er would know alot about min­ing. Some­one that col­lects stamps would know alot on how to orga­nize a postal ser­vice. And we could go on. Knoledge is a thing held by a com­mu­ni­ty, piece by piece and it is incred­i­ble what we pick up even with­out noticing…someone that knows how to hot wire a car already knows more about elec­tric­i­ty than any­one in the Roman empire ever did.

    I also do not like the idea that it all has to be reduced to con­flict. I mean, I am sure the roman elite would not fan­cy loos­ing their grip on pow­er so batles are prob­a­ble but if you read about the con­quis­ta­dors of the amer­i­c­as a whole lot more than pure force was used. I mean the con­quis­ta­dors were sleep­ing with the locals and using fam­i­ly con­nec­tions of these women to find allies, they were nego­ti­at­ing with mem­bers of the Inca roy­al fam­i­ly (to back­stab them after) using their own tech­nol­o­gy to impress the natives with their suposed links to the gods. Cun­ing was more impor­tant than force to estab­lish their rule.

    Also, if you offer advan­tages to you new­ly con­quered people…or if you impress them enough with your “supe­ri­or­i­ty” in any field, the con­quered ones will find you inter­est­ing as a ruler and may sup­port you or at least want to be in your good books. The romans ben­e­fit­ed from this but also think about the King­dom of Hawaii, Mei­ji Japan…It is said that the arabs had no trou­ble con­quer­ing the iber­ian penin­su­la because when they estab­lished them­selves they actu­al­ly reduced the lev­el of tax­a­tion being required by the visig­oth­ic Kingdom…which paci­fied the provinces of His­pania very quick­ly.

    Sor­ry to bore you all but am find­ing this idea rather inter­est­ing.

  • Dan Sullivan says:

    I was attached to a Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit in 2007 and we had a fleet of chips, along with har­ri­ers and cobra attack heli­copters. I’m not say­ing we would win. But we will fight until the mis­sion is accom­plished. Death before retreat!

  • dman73165 says:

    We must remem­ber, a MEU also has two things in it’s arsi­nal, Chem­i­cal and nuclear weapons that can be used if there is no con­tact with the Com­man­der in chief, as a last result to keep fron get­ting beat­en.

  • Jon says:

    A lot of it depends, in sense. Marine snipers could be used, tak­ing out key Roman offi­cers, which could cause hav­oc in their legions. Artillery, accu­rate­ly used, could stop an assault by a Roman Legion–not nec­es­sar­i­ly by oblit­er­at­ing every­one, but the shock and fear of large explo­sions around them. If the Marines were ful­ly loaded out with ammu­ni­tion (.223, for exam­ple), they could car­ry 210 rds, with 7–30 rd clips. If each indi­vid­ual shot was a kill shot, and 1500 of the 2200 Marines were used, (con­sid­er­ing oth­ers are deployed with artillery and armour), they would kill 315,000 Roman Sol­diers. Thus said, it is high­ly unlike­ly each shot would be a kill shot.

    If used in quick, and deci­sive blows, the Marines could defeat the entire Roman Army. This would be accom­plished by effec­tive use of accu­rate artillery, fol­lowed up by quick-mov­ing armour and Infantry. Snipers would elim­i­nate Roman Offi­cers, caus­ing some­what of a disine­gra­tion of order, and lead to chaos in the Roman Lines.

    Thus said, if done deci­sive­ly, and wise­ly, it could be done.

  • Josh says:

    Who says you have to defeat the entire Roman army? Take advan­tage of the con­cen­trat­ed fire­pow­er. A sin­gle armored vehi­cle could dri­ve right up to the emper­or with impuni­ty. A sin­gle fire-team could slice right through the front lines to their com­mand and sup­port. A sin­gle mor­tar strike could pan­ic their cav­al­ry. A sin­gle sniper could take out most of a legion’s lead­er­ship.

    Even dis­re­gard­ing the pure fire­pow­er advan­tage, the Romans would have no pro­ce­dures, tac­tics, or strate­gies for deal­ing with explo­sives, the rapid speed of motor­ized vehi­cle, indi­rect fire, or the even the scout­ing advan­tage of binoc­u­lars.

  • Zorro says:

    What if the Marines showed up with a great big wood­en horse???

    …filled with 40,000 lbs of Semtex‑H?!

  • John Russell says:

    Rome wins.
    No rules of engage­ment…

  • PacRim Jim says:

    How many Marines could bring down the Roman Empire?
    None of them, espe­cial­ly since it no longer exists.

  • Don O'Shei says:

    A MEU has nei­ther nuclear or chem­i­cal weapons under ant nor­mal cir­cum­stances.

  • I just could­n’t go away your site pri­or to sug­gest­ing that I extreme­ly enjoyed the usu­al infor­ma­tion an indi­vid­ual pro­vide for your vis­i­tors? Is going to be again inces­sant­ly in order to check up on new posts

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  • Pablo says:

    Why both­er fight­ing the Romans? Once the marines fig­ured out where in the world they were, they could either build, or oth­er­wise acquire, sea-wor­thy ships and sail to Amer­i­ca. Once here, they could befriend, and blend in with the Native Amer­i­cans; and get them ready for the even­tu­al arrival of the Euro­peans. (The marines, know­ing his­to­ry, would para­dox­i­cal­ly, also know the future). Trained and edu­cat­ed by a group of mod­ern US Marines, the Amer­i­can Indi­ans would be much bet­ter pre­pared to meet the future com­ing of the West­ern Euro­pean migra­tion. A pos­si­ble alter­na­tive his­to­ry of Amer­i­ca would be a much more inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion than mere­ly the hypo­thet­i­cal out­come of a fight.

  • Tiberiis says:

    You have to be kid­ding me. May I remind you that it has been 2000 years rough­ly. Thats like com­par­ing peo­ple in the 4000s to us.

  • Octavius says:

    The legions would even­tu­al­ly sur­ren­der after the over­whelm­ing loss­es. The Roman army would­n’t con­tin­ue to fight a los­ing bat­tle. When they fought the bar­bar­ians, sev­er­al of the bat­tles were lost and they regrouped and fell back to avoid major casu­al­ties. This is part of the rea­son why legions liked Cae­sar so much because he only put them in bat­tles he knew he had deci­sive advan­tages.

  • Bob says:

    Just put it in your mind on how peo­ple you fight or kill.

  • Bob says:

    It’s not how many peo­ple their are it is if you have the skills to take them down.

  • opériet populabundos says:

    by the time your ini­tial recon sur­veil­lance was began your copiers would be ground unless giv­en evac orders. As such I woud then arm the peas­antry with sim­ple arms and tell them of the ene­my hordes. I would then take slaves and badge them as fru­men­tarii chiefs. They would spread pro­pa­gan­da amongst non roman tribes while mak­ing rome look good. That woul end any gueril­la war to come. Then as they would be tar­get­ed by snipers, my civil­ian brute squads would comb the coun­try side for evil foreg­n­ers. This will tie up all remain­ing gueril­la tac­tics and thus begins a war of wear­ing down the ene­my. In one swoop. All pris­on­ers and use­les non cit­i­zens would be round­ed up with non patri­ots. They will be men­tal­ly scarred and half starved. I will unleaw­sh them in a stam­pede towards your defend­ed goods. As you would waste uncount­able bul­lets on inno­cent civil­ians (as always) I will be mov­ing my advanced infantry into your blind spots. Up close and unseen. Since I con­trol all resource and yours is dwin­dling; I will send traders as spies to colect intel and to act as sleep­er assas­sins. When you are doing busines I will send a sui­cide squad to burn all your reserves and equipement. Poi­son your water sup­ply. Asassi­nate your com­mand. I will send a mes­sen­ger. He will state any­one defect­ing will be well cared for. The rest killed until no dust remains. You will cani­bal­ize one anoth­er. You will betray. This is the amer­i­can way. We will only clean a few glad­ii because you will bloody your own dag­gers. The marines are child of repub­lic. I am eater of republics!

  • Jesse Cox says:

    After the Romans saw their com­rades shred­ded by .50 cal­iber bul­lets and a grenades, I would think that this would have a dev­as­tat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal effect on the remain­ing Roman sol­diers who would give up the fight.

  • Kolin says:

    Should’ve went with a US Army Corps (or even just a Divi­sion.) They can just insert a cou­ple squads right in the heart of rome via Black Hawks and cap­ture Rome’s lead­ers (Then PSYOP can do their job, drop leaflets, “warn” the roman sol­diers about their impend­ing doom, etc.). Then just use heavy artillery and send in heavy armor and stryk­er brigades to steam­roll the roman legions. Oth­er infantry per­son­nel can be used to encir­cle and pre­vent any­one from escap­ing. The oth­er option would be scorched earth tac­tics.

  • Kolin says:

    Or we can win with­out fight­ing at all using Heli­copters with mega­phones telling the romans we are the “gods” and they should lay down their arms or die. On those same chop­pers we will have snipers to pick peo­ple off one by one if they do not com­ply. (tech­ni­cal­ly that’s not con­sid­ered “attack air sup­port”)

  • bulls nuts says:

    only way they could win would be by using there new­er weapons if Marine did­n’t have none of that not even gun was go hand to hand with train roman i think the roman would eas­i­ly defeat the marine times were hard­er back in roman era even mide­val sol­dier i think would win no mat­ter how good u.s marine or any of them are i do think deep down they are scared to die they think of there fam­i­ly’s and even write to them when their sure their going off to war think there not com­ing back don’t know where there going after they are killed back than in roman era your fam­i­ly could care­less of you they kill you just take some­thing from you if they want­ed it every­thing Romans did was for gods they were sure there was after life now day’s nobody thinks like that they were more stronger bet­ter train hand to hand and in sword bat­tles now day’s they depend to much on there weapons chop­pers every­thing else to me would­n’t count because not them per­son­al that beat Romans but all there cheat­ing tat­ics that did but them with­out any of that just hand to hand sword fight­ing my option roman would beat marine ass hand’s down they were much more cru­el back in that era than what it is now

  • blehhh says:

    Since the con­ven­tion­al weapons treaties did not exist in that era, just 1 marine to flick a switch on an ICBM with a hydro­gen bomb thou­sands of miles away would do it. No need to send in any­thing else. The mag­ni­tude of the ensu­ing explo­sion would be in the range of tens of mil­lions of tons of TNT. The entire empire would be dis­in­te­grat­ed in a frac­tion of a sec­ond.

  • Paul says:

    Just the posts here, sound like a bet­ter movie than what this movie will be. Pro­pa­gan­da, leaflets, dri­ve up to the lead­er­ship in a tank LMAO. Would­n’t even be a war. Would be con­quered in 24 hours, don’t need to resort to any resource find­ing, bul­let mak­ing, etc. Just save the bul­lets. Except for the hard head­ed.

  • dubbs says:

    Was­n’t this done before?( ..“seem to remem­ber an air­craft car­ri­er going through a time tun­nel and land­ing right in the mid­dle of WW2..”)

    Any­way, what peo­ple are over­look­ing is the pow­er void that would occur. Wip­ing out the legions would put the Roman empire in a vul­ner­a­ble posi­tion, and the “barbarian/celtic/germanic” tribes would have swarmed into the empire a lot ear­li­er.

    The effect would have dev­as­tat­ed world his­to­ry as we know it( the bar­bar­ians incor­po­rat­ed much of roman knowl­edge into their own society).Europe might not have come out of the dark ages UNTIL the rise of Islam, and North Amer­i­ca as well as cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca, even much of Asia would be total­ly dif­fer­ent.

    On the oth­er hand, Romans were very resource­ful, and I see Marines,throwing in with the Romans once they real­ize they can nev­er return to the 21st cen­tu­ry. Med­i­cines would have been advanced, as well as weapons and machin­ery( peo­ple don’t real­ize the intel­li­gence and skill found in an MEU); with­in Roman skill at met­al work­ing, even,their ancient knowl­edge of min­er­als, the Roman Army,taught by Marines, would have had mus­ket rifles in as lit­tle as 5 yrs, as well as sim­ple 18th cen­tu­ry style can­nons.

    Roman engi­neers would have had a rail sys­tem in approx 20 to 30 yrs( peo­ple for­get romans were pro­lif­ic road and pub­lic works builders-they cre­at­ed indoor plumb­ing and hot water pub­lic baths!!!). With­in an MEU , you have not only Marine fight­ing men, you have­Navy sup­port teams and even civil­ian tech­ni­cal con­trac­tors! Once com­mu­ni­ca­tion is established,say to one of the “like­able emper­ors”, Rome wpuld have been unstop­pable.

    Oil would have been dis­cov­ered and processed with­in 15 yrs( peo­ple for­get an M1 abrams can run on damn near ANY liq­uid fuel source, and bio diesel would­n’t be hard to make, giv­en ancient roman resource access, and mod­ern mil­i­tary know how. And with either bet­ter sail­ing tech­niques and train­ing by U.S. Navy per­son­nel, the Romans would have Bet­ter sail­ing ship designs, nav­i­ga­tion, and an Naval and com­mer­cial force resem­bling some­thing like the Eng­lish Navy, cir­ca the 17th to 19th cen­tu­ry. Trade routes to Asia would have been opened with­in 30 yrs of the MEU arriv­ing, bar­bar­ian hordes would have been sur­pressed, and incor­po­rat­ed into Rome, Eng­land would have been solid­ly Roman, and the Amer­i­c­as would have been dis­cov­ered and con­quered by Rome( “Mex­i­cal­ius”, and the City of New Rome instead of New York). I believe the Marines would have influ­enced a Roman empire with an emper­or some­what
    Iike the cur­rent british monar­chy, and the Romans form of slav­ery would have been abol­ished for the
    9th to ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry form pf cap­i­tal­ism and “wage slav­ery”( see­ing as many cur­rent US mil­i­tary per­son­nel have been shame­less­ly indoc­tri­nat­ed into rightwing pol­i­tics!)

    n this lat­ter sce­nario, the only vir­u­lent­ly ugly thing would have been the repre­saion of and pos­si­bly destruc­tion of islam, with hard core rightwing chris­tian­i­ty as the defac­to reli­gion( in place of catholi­cism) and some lim­it­ed allowance pf judi­asm( state of israel would have been allowed to flour­ish, albeit as a roman client state)

  • ace says:

    The romans would politic imme­di­ate­ly after the first 500 men were killed they’d offer women and end­less gold and wine and land and the marines would accept and spare the romans and live as kings and the tech­nol­o­gy would be used to enslave the rest of the world then the slaves would revolt and basi­cal­ly 2014 would be trans­formed into1540a.d. gun­pow­der would be a lit­tle bit more scarce because of all the wars that came ear­li­er then they should have

  • Zo0tie says:

    Uh guys, you’re for­get­ting some­thing very impor­tant. After sev­er­al tours in the mid­dle east the marines would have begun to ques­tion the wis­dom of their mis­sion and their lead­er­ship. Plus remem­ber that they will even­tu­al­ly real­ize that every­thing they are fight­ing for is GONE. Mom, Dad, fam­i­ly, vet­er­an ben­e­fits, social secu­ri­ty, bank deposits, mort­gages, out­stand­ing park­ing tick­ets, every­thing will nev­er, has nev­er exist­ed! How can your pledge to defend the nation, peo­ple, and con­sti­tu­tion of the USA mean any­thing when all of that does­n’t exist. Plus your com­man­der will nev­er be able to pay you again. Most sol­diers are not saints. Nor are they rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies. Often they joined up just because the civil­ian job mar­ket sucked. Morale and unit cohe­sion is gonna take a dump real fast, with indi­vid­ual sol­diers and groups desert­ing because they think they can set up their own lit­tle king­doms with the help of their BOOM sticks. The Romans are expe­ri­enced in using bar­bar­ians to fight oth­er bar­bar­ians. And when the ammo runs out, god help them.

  • dman30498 says:

    Any Marine or US Army unit would have chem­i­cal unit on hand, the use of CS would put the Roman legion in fear,then roll up to the palace and blow off the doors, send in one com­pa­ny of Sol­diers or Marines and kill everbody,prob;em solved!

  • Dave Nielsen says:

    Marines are the best war­riors ever trained.

    Among the best, not the best.

  • alex says:

    All they would have to do is snipe all offi­cers and the whole army would be in chaos. Offi­cers are clear­ly marked by their armor and hel­mets so it would be easy for any mod­ern marks­men to pick them out. The offi­cers you did­n’t kill in bat­tle force recon could kill or cap­ture at night with night vision gog­gles and stealth tac­tics. Once all the high rank­ing peo­ple are dead there’s no way for the army to func­tion and the thou­sands of sol­diers would dis­band.

  • David says:

    Roman legion num­bered approx­i­mate­ly 5500 sol­diers, and not 11000. This info made the whole the­o­ry invalid. Because the man describ­ing Roman Equip­ment, described it like some­one watch­ing to much movies and know­ing noth­ing about Roman way of fight­ing and that time peri­od.

    There­fore, the the­o­ry, is invalid.

  • 86095 says:

    Well it would­n’t exact­ly be a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary war style exchange would it? Kevlar and bike hel­mets would­n’t do much against rows of ballista,rolling jugs of greek fire, cat­a­pult­ed flam­ing boul­ders with shrap­nel, and ten thou­sand man strong bar­rage of arrows. Not to men­tion the tight for­ma­tion of tes­tu­do. Bul­lets would just ric­o­chet and the ones that did con­nect the lines would tight­en right back and you’d be over run.

    76 vehi­cles though. That will do it. With­out those marines would just be fleshy corpses to be over run and with them meat bags to make many fleshy corpses.

    You’d have to go gueril­la w/o them and our immune sys­tem due is infe­ri­or and com­pro­mised com­pared to ances­tors due to medicine,diet,lifestyle. Nature would do most of the killing for the Romans and with what solid­ers are paid? I bet at least 1/5 every sick,homesick, horny marine would explain the guns to the local mag­is­trate in exchange for cit­i­zen­ship and an invite to the all you can eat buffett/orgy.Slap an ius on your name bam inte­gra­tion. Dis­ease and deser­tion would win it if you went long.

  • Spencer says:

    Your com­ment brings absolute­ly NOTHING worth wild to the posed ques­tion.

  • no party says:

    juan this is not a Pease talk ‚this is a his­tor­i­cal mil­i­tary forum/talk. Wrong place x you to talk about the tragedy and suf­fer­ing. last what Fas­cism has to do with this. Please learn before typ­i­cal liby words.

  • JohnCS says:

    Yours is the best answer so far!

  • David says:

    Yeah, tell that to Han­ni­bal.

    The Romans rolled right over after Ticinius (Han­ni­bal killed 2500 of 10000 romans with min­i­mal casu­al­ties) Tre­bia, (42000 romans, 10000 killed), Lake Trasimene (35000 troops, 15000–20000 lost) and Can­nae (~700000 troops, and 40000–60000 killed with 8k casu­al­ties). That shock and awe broke them, and they def­i­nite­ly did­n’t win the sub­se­quent war.

  • David says:

    You should study the sec­ond Punic War. The exact sce­nario you are sug­gest­ing would result in sur­ren­der occurred, and it did not result in sur­ren­der.

    You should also look up Car­rhae.

  • Archibald Wolfe says:

    Please learn words before typ­ing them. “Pease”? Seri­ous­ly? Also, Fas­cism isn’t a “liby” word. It’s a word. It isn’t a reg­is­tered vot­er.

  • Gabe says:

    What if, instead of killing each oth­er, the Marines joined up with the Roman army. If the Romans see how for­mi­da­ble an ene­my the Marines are, it would sure­ly make sense for them to try and ally them­selves with the Marines, or even incor­po­rate the Marines into the Roman Army. If that were to hap­pen, Rome would be the more tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced and sig­nif­i­cant­ly stronger than before.

  • Gabe says:

    Apolo­gies, I did not see that this has already been men­tioned.

  • JB says:

    The ques­tion is a thought exper­i­ment. Sim­i­lar to a ques­tion on who would win between a nin­ja and a pirate.
    Please stop pre­sum­ing that every­thing has a polit­i­cal fla­vor behind it.

    Would it have made you less riled if the ques­tion had been “Who would win between the Romans and ISIS?” Or would that be pan­der­ing to our ene­mies some­how?

    Those who active­ly seek rea­sons to find offense with any­thing rarely find dis­ap­point­ment.

  • Brad says:

    So if you crip­ple the Marines suf­fi­cient­ly, take away this, take away that. You can’t use this and you can’t use that. And on the oth­er side you just throw an unlim­it­ed num­ber of bod­ies with no regard for their own lives what­so­ev­er then even­tu­al­ly, giv­en enough time, then yes, the Romans would win. Bril­liant hypoth­e­sis.

  • Joe says:

    This is stu­pid the Romans fell 18 hun­dred years ago and using humvees and tanks is just stu­pid romes army was the best for over 500 years let’s see if Amer­i­ca is even around in anoth­er 200 years this stu­pid any­one who says oth­er wise isn’t being prac­ti­cal

  • Knight_Fever says:

    what you have for­got­ten, and you all assume

    the Marines have first right of the attack, they get to use there fire­pow­er mas­sive­ly all over.

    now what hap­pens if its attri­tion, moun­tain­ous regions
    take 200 miles , con­stant attri­tion bleed them dry.

    they have no sup­port for logis­tics, for there fire­pow­er

    The great Cae­sar and many romans used For­ti­fi­ca­tions , mas­sive trench­es long lines, true eas­i­ly destroyed by mod­ern fire­pow­er but they will still have to expend it.
    and three mod­ern weapons need ammu­ni­tion and even there armoured vehi­cle’s require fuel, even bat­terys

    In oth­er words even if they make to the bat­tle­fiend, then win. how long would they last once you take away the mod­ern army. the US Marines would be crushed, they would fight to the last man

  • Nick says:

    to make the fight even, both sides must be pre­vent­ed from retreat and allowed enough space, say the size of a foot­ball field to duke it out. Romans wins hands down.

  • O. says:

    Marines aren’t the best war­riors ever trained, far from. Spar­tans, vikings, samu­rais, nin­jas, knights or tem­plars, all have they been trained and raised from kids to fight, to become the ulti­mate war­rior. If you put a marine vs any of these in a hand-to-hand fight, the marine would be down in a mat­ter of sec­onds or min­utes. Give the ancient war­rior a sword and the marine would die with­in sec­onds, give the marine a rifle and, of course, the ancient one would die with­in a mat­ter of sec­onds. That’s why it’s impor­tant to let it be a fair fight, and fair would be 100% naked, in a sand pit, one-on-one fight with bare hands, till death. Why did you even bring up such a stu­pid, very stu­pid state­ment? Please leave your patri­o­tism out of the answer, as it should be a neu­tral answer, based on facts not emo­tions. Sad­ly for you, you failed mis­er­ably in stat­ing prop­er­ly, just why the marine would be the great­est fight­er in his­to­ry.

  • Zo0tie says:

    If they fight both sides would lose. A quick slaugh­ter of the Roman army by Marines would cre­ate a pow­er vac­u­um that the small num­ber of Marines with their deplet­ed ammo and fuel reserves could not fill. Provinces and slaves would revolt, the Parthi­ans and bar­bar­ian tribes would invade. Mass chaos and nobody wins. And worst of all Marines would begin to desert since their com­man­ders can­not pay them with Amer­i­can mon­ey or get them back to their homes. Bet­ter to apply just enough force to con­vince the Romans that the Marines would be a good buffer ‘tribe’ on some impe­r­i­al fron­tier. My first choice would be Wales where the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion began but the Rhur Val­ley, Romania(Dacia) or Crimea(Regnum Bospori) might work also. The remain­ing mod­ern weapons would serve as a deter­rent to out­side inter­fer­ence while the Marines and their new indige­nous fam­i­lies spend the next few decades build­ing up an industrial/commercial/intellectual base pro­duc­ing goods(steam engines and steel plows) and ideas(All men are cre­at­ed equal, etc.) In 50 years the Marines or their descen­dants would march into Rome to cheers of cit­i­zens of a new Demo­c­ra­t­ic Fed­er­a­tion of Euro­pean States.

  • Zach says:

    I have tak­en the time to exam­ine all aspects of both mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties. To start off, I’ve noticed dis­crep­an­cies through­out most respons­es about legion size. The size of the Legion depend­ed great­ly on the time-frame and the cur­rent emper­or. For instance Augus­tus aver­age legion size was approx­i­mate­ly half of the size of the legions under Mar­cus Aure­lius’ rule. Roman legions would have greater knowl­edge of the envi­ron­ment and depend­ing on the area have already won over the hearts and minds of locals. The Unit­ed States Marine Corps while being one of the most pow­er­ful and we’ll known mil­i­tary branch­es in the mod­ern world would have a severe lack of sup­plies and all topo­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion would be invalid due to ter­ra-form­ing and oth­er changes. Unfor­tu­nate­ly any mod­ern mil­i­tary force would have a ter­ri­ble time due to the extreme lack of resources. And would even­tu­al­ly have to revert to ancient style weapon­ry. An aver­age marine would have about five mag­a­zines or clips depend­ing on the rifle used. Helos (using naval ter­mi­nol­o­gy) and land vehi­cles would run out of fuel and with out a prop­er replace­ment would ren­der most use­less.

    I say this now I love the marine corps and I also love Rome BOTH could be con­sid­ered to be the great­est fight­ing force known to man. But I believe that Rome’s legions would win main­ly due to their sup­ply of resources, over­whelm­ing amount of sol­diers, code of hon­or, knowl­edge of ter­rain and love/hatred of locals would win a war against the marine corps.

    Veni, vidi, vici

  • Pete says:

    I love this idea. Sounds like a great book in the mak­ing…

  • Matalink says:

    I dont think they need to face the entire roman army to win, all they have to do is kill the emper­or and the oth­er lead­ers cause with­out a gen­er­al to lead them the army would dis­in­te­grate and then put anoth­er emper­or to the throne one that would be on their side.

  • Sumadinac says:

    Just watch the movie Sen­goku jieitai . 1st all vehi­cles would be use­less once they run out of fuel . Let’s say they man­aged to fix that “prob­lem” . Romans would attack most like­ly at night , catch the sol­diers off guard . Sure they would post guards for the night but romans would be able to get near them as they would­n’t be see­ing much around their camp at night . Lets say they light up all around the camp , well than romans would just stay fur­ther away in the shad­ows and get some arrow show­ers going . That tac­tic would beat them on the long run . Also if romans were to climb on tanks and dis­able their optics , destroy the machine gun , or say light a fire on the tank , that would sure­ly dis­able it . I see many peo­ple under­es­ti­mate the hier­ar­chy of the romans , well , you should­n’t . They are high­ly trained skilled pro­fes­sion­als , best of the best , I think they would put up a fight , maybe even to the end . Also I saw some­one say they should mur­der the emper­or , eas­i­er said than done . For that you must enter rome , pre­pare to be attacked in an urban envi­ron­ment — arrows from rooftops and high­er sto­ry build­ings , spears thrown at you , lit grass and torch­es . It pos­si­bly would­n’t destroy the marines but it should at least low­er their morale by see­ing their mates filled with arrows . Also in mod­ern world it is easy to treat a wound such as an arrow shot to say shoul­der (since body armor does­nt cov­er it) . But in the old times — not so much . In con­clu­sion the Romans would win as even if marines were to start rul­ing the Rome , I think they would be killed at night in their beds even by the women they slept with as no one likes occu­piers.

  • David Ryan says:

    Like 98% of the Indi­ans died before we even real­ly start­ed col­o­niz­ing here. The moment we made any sort of con­tact with them they were intro­duced to new dis­eases that they had nev­er faced before. They had no immu­ni­ties to the dis­eases that euro­peans had already faced and devel­oped immu­ni­ties too. The SAME thing hap­pened when trade with the Ori­ent start­ed hap­pen­ing more. It is like­ly the rea­son for the black plague that swept through Europe was when those two peo­ple groups start­ed hav­ing more con­tact. It is true how­ev­er that we made war on the Indi­ans that lived but then they made war on us too. IT was­n’t like they all came for peace and we just sud­den­ly start­ed attack­ing them for no rea­son. Also lets not for­get they made war among them­selves both before and after our arrival. Why was it okay for them to kill each oth­er but not okay for us to kill them exact­ly? I mean seri­ous­ly NO one talks about it being wrong for indi­ans to kill each oth­er. No one talks about it being wrong that african tribes con­tin­ue to prac­tice geno­cide against each oth­er today. No the only peo­ple group that is evil for mak­ing war is appar­ent­ly the white peo­ple. Every­one else but us is appar­ent­ly allowed to. At least allowed to in the court of pub­lic opin­ion.

  • GO says:

    USMC would win until they run out of ammo and gas, then get mas­sa­cred by the Romans…

  • Thomas smith says:

    The same rea­son you can beat your kids, but I cant!

  • Rob says:

    I’m stunned by how many of these moron­ic ques­tions are out there. Duh uh, whoa, uh like what if, uh what if like uh, you know like if the Spar­tans fought against uh, like uh, you know like fought against a bat­tal­ion of like B‑52’s…who would win?
    Its unre­al how many peo­ple thought the 300 Spar­tans movie where they fight in their “Bat­tle Panties” was real his­to­ry, omg. Democ­ra­cy does­n’t work, it only breeds dumb peo­ple that have to much free­dom and who should actu­al­ly be kept down in per­ma­nent low­er classe sta­tus with­out access to technology…ever.
    lol, do I seem annoyed?

  • Dominic says:

    “Marines are the best war­riors ever trained. But they can’t fight an end­less wave of sol­diers. No one can.” Thanks for the laugh, HAHA.

  • Brian T says:

    If they save their brass, hard to do with a m‑60, they could reload, make more ammo. They would know how to make gun­pow­der. find an alchemist type to recharge the caps. A black­smith to recon­di­tion the caps. yes I know that mod­ern ammo does­n’t always use caps, but the audi­ence would­n’t catch on.…

    Their best bet would be to team up with the empire, and spread it all over the face of the earth. The sun would nev­er set on the roman empire.

    decked ships, steer­ing sails (jib), nav­i­ga­tion, where the winds blow (colum­bus’s), spark gap radio, explo­sives, soap, how to break arms n legs in hand to hand com­bat.

    If they went back in “hurk”, and land­ed in the emper­ors back yard on Copri; when he’s at home.…

  • Brian T says:

    That should read:- If they went back in a “hurk”, and land­ed in the emper­ors back yard on Capri: when he’s at home.…

  • El Lordo says:

    I was the author of the orig­i­nal sup­po­si­tion which was post­ed on a forum on the Above Top in 2008. This is very fun­ny to see some sup­posed for­mer solid­er has attempt­ed to graft a sto­ry out of a throw­away remark I made in a sci fi what if ques­tion. Will this gut­less won­der please send me an E Mail. Since I have the orig­i­nal work trade­marked and copy­right­ed.

  • bullt says:

    The marines would win and beat the whole roman empire if they had unlim­it­ed bul­lets and gas.

  • David Stover says:

    You have to have bod­ies to replace the injured, dead. You need med­ical resources, san­i­ta­tion, sup­plies, logis­tics is the key to the sto­ry. Hitler out ran his sup­plies, Gen­er­al win­ter caught his ass out in the mid­dle of nowhere. The Sovi­et forces moved their man­u­fac­tur­ing to the far moun­tains west, out of Nazi reach and had plen­ty of resources to sup­ply, their forces,food, weapons, med­ical. Stal­ion could recruit per­son­al from as far reach­ing to Mon­gou­lia, his weapons were sim­ple, easy to manufacture,use, easy to teach a farm boy how to shoot, dri­ve a trank, truck. Stalon was no fool! Hitler should of left them alone. I’m an vet­er­an of the US Army. Logis­tics is the key to sur­vival and 247 MOS’s are need­ed to win any war. The sad fact is that the US Marines may win in the begin­ing but, the lack of fresh per­son­al, sup­plies, med­ical, replace­ment parts , POL ect,that would be their down fall except if they had the NBC or nuclear option at their dis­pos­al, then things may be some what dif­fer­ent. I’ve been to war, seen the crap hap­pen.

  • CheddarCheetah says:

    Ummmmmm.…..The Tro­jan horse was from Greece to Troy, not to Rome, so I doubt that would work

  • Jim says:

    Well it all depends on the sol­diers being sent The U.S mil­i­tary is very diverse and depend­ing on pri­or knowl­edge and if forced the mil­i­tary could quite pos­si­bly get fuel for a peri­od and a few var­i­ous oth­er fac­tors would have to be put in place. For exam­ple do you real­ly have to kill every Roman at what point will they retreat or give up. What’s the polit­i­cal cli­mate? In real­i­ty the sol­diers would be slaugh­tered in mass the first few bat­tles but could learn to change tac­tics but who can change tac­tics faster. Maybe the Marines with mod­ern knowl­edge or the romans either way you also have to take in account the fact the marines may run out of mod­ern weapons but they could still make bet­ter weapons then the legions. Also what hap­pens if the marines spread Amer­i­can ideals and con­vert the pop­u­lace to sup­port them? Sor­ry for any spelling errors that may be present.

  • Lola says:

    lol. marines are NOT the best sol­diers ever trained. they’re just the best trained sol­diers you know of, and aren’t very bright.

  • Bruce C Uebergang says:

    A large group of Ter­ror­ists are mov­ing down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a sand dune. “One Unit­ed States Marine is bet­ter than ten Ter­ror­ists!”

    The Ter­ror­ists com­man­der quick­ly sends 10 of his best sol­diers over the dune, where­upon a gun bat­tle breaks and con­tin­ues for a few min­utes, then silence.

    The voice then calls out “One Unit­ed States Marine is bet­ter than one hun­dred Ter­ror­ists!”

    Furi­ous, the Ter­ror­ist com­man­der sends his next best 100 troops over the dune and instant­ly a huge fire­fight com­mences. After 10 min­utes of bat­tle, again silence.

    The Amer­i­can voice calls out again “One Unit­ed States Marine is bet­ter than one thou­sand Ter­ror­ists!”

    The enraged Ter­ror­ist Com­man­der musters one thou­sand fight­ers and sends them across the dune. Can­nons, rock­ets and machine guns ring out as a huge bat­tle is fought. Then silence. even­tu­al­ly one wound­ed Ter­ror­ists fight­er crawls back over the dune and with his dying words tells his com­man­der,

    “Don’t send any more men…It’s a trap. There’s two of them!!!”

  • Henry Schwarz says:

    The marines would be tac­ti­cal. Assum­ing they have snipers, that can take out a tar­get up to 1/2 mile away, they could sur­gi­cal­ly take out all of the com­man­ders and bat­tal­ion lead­ers first. With­out prop­er lead­ers the urge to “fight for Rome” would quick­ly be for­got­ten espe­cial­ly if there fight­ers in front of them all got mas­sa­cred.

    Heck if they resort­ed to guer­ril­la war­fare the Marines would win all the time. The Scot­tish let the Roman brigades march all the way North with­out putting up a sin­gle fight, troops died of hunger, sick­ness, etc. Sim­ply take off the front troops and rear troops in a sys­temtic fash­ion

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