NaNoWriMo Day 30 – Could Steampunk have saved the Roman Empire?

Could Steampunk have saved the Roman Empire? Guest Post by Josh Stanton

Here’s another awesome guest post by Joshua Stanton, who attempts to answer my  favorite question – Could Steampunk (or power perhaps?) have saved the Roman Empire? Be sure to check out his reviews!

Could steampunk have saved the Roman Empire?

What if the Roman Empire never fell? What if that tiny idea of Heron’s Engine manifested into an industrial revolution, that spurred the Romans into a mighty empire?

Daniel Ottalini explores this idea with his action packed Steam Empire Series. His industrial revolution has steam powered war machines and mighty airships keeping the Empire together. But how actually close were the real Romans to achieving this? And how might it have saved their Empire?

aeolopileIn 1AD Egypt, Heron came up with the idea of an aeolipile or Heron’s Engine. It is a simple device that boils water, sending the steam up and through the pipes, creating torque, and power. Like the diagram shows, with the pipes facing the same way, it would spin. A very basic engine, but at the time, had no use in the Roman Empire.

Heron didn’t just work on the primitive steam engine but automatons. Yes. Automatons. He worked at the Greek theatre, using ropes, pulleys, and simple machines to put on a ten minute production.

But nothing actually came about for over a thousand years later, when Taqi al-din reinvented it in the Ottoman Empire. This was the beginning again for steam power. Where concepts like pressure and vacuums were eventually applied, and then actually constructed into steam power.

With a push, maybe they were close to cracking it a good 1500 years early. If developed, the Heron’s Engine, their advances might have been incredible.

Enough to save the empire?

The fall of Rome happened for a number of reasons; invaders, slave trouble, and their over-expansion to name a few. But with the mighty power of steampunk…


The Roman Empire was being attacked by barbarians on all sides. A Germanic uprising eventually started the end of the Emperor’s rule. With steampunk technology at their side, they could have had war machines, and airships to rival the more primitive barbarians.

Work Force

Wars cost money. The Roman Empire desperately needed it to keep fighting to secure their vast empire. By expanding they would take more slaves and thus keep an operating slave work force. Without expanding, the numbers dwindled. Steampunked they would have factories. A lot of the basic work would be taken out of their hands and run by far fewer people to create goods.

Industrial revolution!

Of course that would also take its toll, with possible grim living conditions for the poor and working classes. Children would be working, and a lot of people might flock to the cities for work. This would have had a major impact on the Roman Empire.


The Roman Empire covered 4.4 Million KM. They had built a great road system, but communication was still hard. What if one part of the country was being attacked? It would still take time to round up a local army to support. Steampunked they’d have not just trains able to ship goods and troops, but airships. With more transportation options, they may have flown to the Americas and taken them too. What could stop them?

I don’t know if the power of steampunk may have helped with government corruption or the rise of religion interfering with how the empire worked with the rise of Christianity. An industrial revolution would bring about its own problems as well as solve others. Steampunk technology may have saved it from collapse, or maybe it would have gone an entirely different route?

How can we imagine what might have been?

A good start is Daniel Ottalini’s books.

The Roman Empire has managed to keep the empire going to 1856. But not all is easy. They are being attacked by Mongols to the East, and Barbarians from the North. In his high action books, we will have to see where he takes us down right through up to his new book, Steel Praetorian.

Lastly, thanks Daniel for having me over here.

A hat off to Josh for writing such a wonderful blog post. I’ll be guest-posting on his blog on Friday, so be sure to check me out there! Remember that Steel Praetorian is still available for pre-order for December 1st! That’s just one day! You can grab it on Amazon, Smashwords, or on Barnes and Noble.


Author: Daniel Ottalini

Author of the Award-Winning Steam Empire Chronicles Series

%d bloggers like this: