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Friday, December 23 2016
Cursus Publicus: The Roman Pony Express
"When the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was"
The English-language word "epistle" originated from a Latin word, epistola, that meant to send on. It was a word that well-suited the Roman postal system of the New Testament era.
The Cursus Publicus, in Latin meaning the course public (i.e. the public system of conveyance), was the postal service of the ancient Roman Empire. Emperor Augustus (who is best-known for his declaring the census that resulted in the fulfillment of the prophesied birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem; see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars and The Birth And Childhood Of The Messiah; also Bethlehem In History And Prophecy and The Bethlehem Shepherds Prophecy) instituted it to convey letters, tax payments and people throughout the Roman Empire.
The system was operated by means of a series of usually-fortified way stations (the system was operated by the Roman military) along the famous Roman Roads system. Each stationes (the Latin word from which th English word station originated) served as a relay point for horsemen who carried mail, or "stage" coaches that transported people. Each station, that was staffed by horse care experts, provided fresh horses (e.g. horses ridden in were rested at least until the next day; there was usually a large supply of horses available) and supplies (that were transported within the system itself). It was exactly the same postal and transport system that was used later over the centuries in Europe and the Americas (and even today) because of its efficiency and simplicity.
Although not often realized as such, the apostle Paul (see Why Didn't The Romans Torture The Apostle Paul? and Why Was Paul Sent To Rome?) was transported to Caesarea by just such a "special delivery" of the man and the letter.
"23:23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
Fact Finder: Why was the letter that is known as the "Book" of Revelation delivered to the churches of Turkey in a stated order?
This Day In History, December 23
484: Huneric, king of the Vandals, died. The Vandals were a Germanic tribe; their practice of destroying and looting is the origin of the term "vandalism." He was succeeded by his nephew Gunthamund (see also The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).
962: During the Byzantine-Arab Wars, Byzantine troops under the command of the future Emperor Nicephorus Phocas captured the city of Aleppo.
1569: Philip of Moscow was martyred by Ivan the Terrible.
1672: Giovanni Cassini discovered Rhea, a moon of Saturn.
1688: During the "Glorious Revolution," King James II fled England to Paris after being deposed by his nephew, William of Orange and his daughter Mary.
1690: John Flamsteed observed Uranus without realizing that the 7th planet was not yet officially discovered (see also What Can You See In The Firmament Of The Heavens?).
1823: A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, was published (see Could Santa Claus Have Become The Pope?).
1861: The Danubian Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were formally united as Romania.
1909: King Leopold II of Belgium died.
1919: Britain instituted a new constitution for India.
1920: Ireland was divided.
1933: Marinus van der Lubbe was found guilty and sentenced to death for setting fire to the Reichstag (the German Parliament Building) earlier in the year. The Reichstag fire was Germany's "9-11" that was used by Adolf Hitler as the excuse to turn Germany into a lawless police state (see Law-Abiding Criminals and Why Does Satan Love Liars?) i.e. the infamous Gestapo were the state police in charge of "security of the fatherland" (see also Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1947: The transistor was invented by Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley at Bell Labs.
1948: Hideki Tojo, Japanese soldier, Prime Minister when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, was executed as a war criminal along with 6 others. Among the court-specified war crimes, for which they were ordered hung by U.S. judges, was the waterboarding torture of prisoners.
1964: Over 2,000 people were killed by a cyclone in Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka).
1972: A massive earthquake struck Managua, Nicaragua, causing the deaths of approximately 7,000 people.
1973: 6 Persian Gulf nations doubled their oil prices.
1979: Soviet forces occupied the capital city of Kabul after the communist USSR invaded Afghanistan. The Taliban defense forces (U.S. President Ronald Reagan called them "freedom fighters" and "the moral equivalent of America's founding fathers" when he welcomed some of their leaders in the Oval Office) were trained and armed primarily by the U.S. The same Taliban are today fighting against the U.S. after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
1997: A U.S. jury found Terry Nichols guilty of involvement with Timothy McVeigh in the terrorist bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City - up to that time the worst act of terrorism in the U.S.