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postal service


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The Greek poleis communicated by professional messengers like Phidippides on land; there were also messenger‐ships. The efficient Persian arrangements (see royal road) were maintained at the expense of local communities. From the first, the carrying of messages, the movement of goods due to the state, and the journeys of the ruler and his representatives were closely linked, and this is the system bequeathed by the Achaemenid kingdom to the (Diadochi) Successors of Alexander (2) the Great, in Syria and in Egypt.

For Rome in the republic, see tabellarii. Augustus' bold introduction of a public postal system for the whole empire was modelled on the Hellenistic kingdoms, and designed specifically for governmental purposes. In its developed form (the cursus pūblicus) it was one of the biggest administrative initiatives in antiquity. It could work only through a system of local requisitioning of animals, vehicles, and provisions.

Subjects: Regional and National History.


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