Marek Żyromski
In the end of September 2008 was the 25th anniversary of Nobel Peace Prize for Lech Wałęsa. In this occasion was organized the music concert in Warsaw and two actors (Krystyna Janda and Jerzy Radziwiłłowicz) remind 21 demands of working class during the strike in Gdańsk in 1980. One of these demands said about the advance and promotion in the administrative system thanks to the personal abilities and education instead of party recommendation. The loudly laughing were heard because even nowadays, 19 years after collapse of the communist rule in Poland, this demand is very important. Most of candidates for high (or sometimes even not so high) administrative positions took their posts thanks to parties’ nomination and recommendation. Perhaps, only one change in this system can be observed, namely that nowadays we have the pluralist political system in Poland and many political parties, instead of the one communist party before the elections of June 4, 1989. Even the establishing in Warsaw the High School of Public Administration, whose students afterwards were to gain these high administrative positions, did not change anything in this system. The ruling party recommendation is the best way to power and high salaries. Certainly, even worse situation was in the Imperium Romanum, because there was not such high school. Similar “military academics did not exist” (Birley 2003, 5). The most information on promotions in the administrative system of the Roman Empire can be obtained from inscriptions containing the cursus honorum of the given senator (or members of the equestrian order or even of municipal aristocracy). Unfortunately, ”a career inscription by itself can tell us only what posts a man held, it cannot explain why he held them” (Campbell 1984, 329). Certainly, it is very difficult to deduce the motives of promotion (or nomination) from the inscription which presents only the consecutive posts in the Roman army and administration (in ascending or descending order). And so, some
Tyragetia, s.n., vol. III [XVIII], nr. 1, 2009, 277-283.

theories emerged which try to solve the question of motives, which stood behind the decision of nomination. The two most important (and most common) theories or notions are that of patronage and of specialization. And that is so, this article is about. Already over half a century ago Eric Birley wrote “I have tried to deduce the principles in which the army of the Principate was supplied with officers of the right caliber and of appropriated previous experience” (Birley 1988, 94). The question of patronage (both in senatorial and equestrian careers) was thoroughly investigated later by R.P. Saller (Saller 1980; Saller 1982). In his opinion “patronage was indispensable to the system because no formal bureaucratic mechanisms existed for bringing candidates to the emperor’s attention.” (Saller 1982, 111) During the Roman Empire the highest position in the Roman administrative system was taken by the emperor himself. All the provincial governors and legionary commanders were appointed as his legates, as their nomenclature suggests (legatus Augusti pro praetore provinciae, legatus Augusti legionis respectively). And so, “all senatorial magistracies, offices and honors were at the disposal of the emperor. We possess examples which show that all were used – either directly by the emperor or indirectly by those close to him – as beneficia in patronal exchange relationships. Unfortunately, these scattered examples cannot by themselves reveal whether patronage was a normal or exceptional factor in distribution” (Saller 1982, 45). Nevertheless, it is very difficult to establish (or even to make a hypothesis) on which stage of the senatorial career (cursus honorum) the emperor chose some persons to receive in the future the highest posts in the imperial army and administration. Firstly, Eric Birley wrote about the role of vigintivirate in this respect (Birley 1956, 231). However, the future senators (they formally entered the senatorial order as quaestores) took the positions within the vigintivirate already in their 277

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early twenties. It seems that the positions in the vigintivirate were rather the sign of social position of the given persons, because the highest post (III viri monetales) was usually filled by patricians and/or sons of consulars and the lowest one (III viri capitales) received almost exclusively the new men in senate (hominess novi). Certainly, even in the very brutal Roman world (gladiators), the supervision of capital punishments was not especially nice. The second stage (after the vigintivirate) on which such the promotion could be obtained by young future senators i.e. the military service (as tribunus militum legionis laticlavius) seems more reasonable. The young future senator usually served only once in the Roman legion; but the future emperor Hadrian served in the three consecutive legions as the military tribune. Besides “the ‘tribunus laticlavius’ normally served for something the three years” (Birley 1988, 95) Certainly, “it would, indeed, have been inefficient if the laticlavius generally stayed for one year only. A term of two or three years is generally to be postulated. The age at which the laticlavius entered the service was doubtless generally 19 or 20” (Birley 1981, 9). The military tribunes usually (or at least quite often) served under their close relatives, who fulfilled at the same time more important role of legionary legate or even provincial governor (in the case of imperial praetorian provinces this was the same person). And so, “military tribunate offered the chance of patronage from the consular legate” (Syme 1988a, 564). But, on the other hand, governor in nomination of his tribuni militum laticlavii “had to satisfy the needs of their sons and other relations, and deal as best they could with letters from patrons on behalf of candidates” (Dobson 1993a, 131). In Arthur Birley’s opinion “for junior appointments such as military tribunates the emperors relied, it must be assumed, on the judgement of their generals” (Birley 1981, 3). On the other hand some persons, especially descending from patrician families, did not want to serve in the army and to travel to distant or even unhealthy Roman provinces (such as Syria for instance(Syme 1984). It can be assumed that “some future senators clearly did not hold tribunates [military] – perhaps as many as 8 out of 20 each year” (Birley 1981, 8). In the result the emperor had to promote persons from the equestrian order or even from the lower strata of the Roman 278

society. We do not know the criteria of nomination for military tribunate (Birley 1956, 230). But in the situation of such great vacancies, perhaps the emperor simply nominated each volunteer? “To obtain commanders for the legions and governors for the imperial provinces the emperors had to persuade senators sons to serve as military tribunes and spend years away from home as legionary commanders and governors. The men persuaded were always a minority, and had to be supplemented by the adlection of equestrian officers” (Dobson 1970, 99). Besides, the military experience, which young military tribune could get depended mainly on the army, in which he served. If the legion stationed in some peaceful and already Romanized provinces, like Spain or Gaul, he had practically no chance to see any war at al ! “It is a matter for debate how much benefit from his experience as tribune still remained with the legionary commander [….] Commands such as that of VII Gemina in Spain or VIII Augusta at Strasbourg could seen less competent men from serious involvement in command in war” (Dobson 1993a, 132). The senatorial military tribune (tribunus militum legionis laticlavius) was generally in his early twenties (in H.Devijver’s opinion between 16 and 24), which stood in sharp contrast to the equestrian military tribune (tribunus militum legionis angusticlavius), who was quite mature men (between 35 and 45) (Devijver 1998, 204). The second (after the military tribunate) chance for military service in the senatorial cursus honorum was the post of legionary legate (legatus Augusti legionis), usually taken just after the praetorship i.e. in the early thirties (between 30 and 35) (Devijver 1998, 204). Some senators took two posts only between the praetorship and consulate, namely the legionary command and the governorship of praetorian imperial province (or curator aerarium militare/Saturni), who B.Campbell described as the “viri militares” (Campbell 1975). In his opinion such the senators were quite young in consulate and could obtain many consular positions, especially in the Roman provinces. On the other hand, taking two praetorian positions only, they had no much experience in the imperial army and administration. Nevertheless, “most consular governors had previously commanded the legion” (Birley 1981, 29). The legionary legate usually served for three years term. He usu-

M. Żyromski, The patterns of promotion within the roman army and administration

ally commanded the legion in other province (or at least in other legion), than he previously served as the tribunus militum. The reason was not only the need for wide and different experience but “his dignitas might suffer if there were too many centurions and other ranks who remembered him in the junior grade a dozen years or so earlier” (Birley 1981, 108). Besides, in the opinion of Arthur Birley – “the policy of avoiding narrow specialization ensured that military practices and standards could be maintained at a uniform level throughout the empire” (Birley 1981, 34). Practically it is impossible to say something correct on motives which stood behind the imperial nomination for the post of legionary legate. “There is no evidence to suggest that the governor had any decisive say in the appointment of his legionary legates” (Birley 1988, 96). This nomination depended from the emperor himself. “Deliberate selection of individuals to command legions involved in present or planned campaign is very difficult to demonstrate. It is even harder to show that such selection was a direct result of military ability demonstrated as much as 10 years previously” (Dobson 1993b, 123) (as tribunus militum legionis laticlavius). “In summary, it can be postulated that the senatorial career was never specifically adopted to the task of identifying military talent at an early stage” (Dobson 1993a, 133). And so, in the opinion of some scholars the Roman imperial army was under the command of high – status amateurs. “Army commanders were rarely specialist military men, and many senators and equestrians were not involved in military affairs at all” (Campbell 2002, 152). On the other hand, quite different opinion presented Arthur Birley. “Yet enough cases are known of senators with many years of military service to correct this impression” (Birley 1981, 33). Besides, the military experience was only part of the necessary requirements for taking the positions in Roman imperial army and administration. As wrote R.Syme “although most consuls had commanded a legion, education and social gifts rather than military training opened the path to high honours; and a consular’s experience with the armies had seldom been continuous and prolonged” (Syme 1988b, 31). Undoubtedly, the more professional and technically educated (or rather experienced) were non-commissioned officers in the Roman legion. „The primus pilus iterum was the technically

most qualified officer; after him came the praefectus castrorum and the primus pilus bis. This trio of professional military technicians formed a counterweight to the short-term legatus legionis, the tribunus laticlavius, and the 5 tribuni angusticlavii, the theorists, the intellectuals, the ideologues of romanitas. But together they formed the staff of Roman legion” (Devijver 1998, 204). On the other hand it is difficult to accept the view that the senatorial legionary legates were only amateurs who had to rely on their subordinate under officers, descending from the equestrian order (or even below – from the ranks). Perhaps, such was the situation in rather peaceful regions of the Roman Empire (as Spain or Gaul), but not in the military important, border regions, such as Rhine or Eastern army and especially the Danube army – where in the second century A.D. stationed at about half of the whole Roman military forces.. In contrast to the position of tribunus miolitum laticlavius, which (as it seems) depended mostly on the patronage – “at intermediate level – such as legionary legatships and some governorships – one may infer that some kind of regular system developed, even if its workings are in doubt. Even hard-working emperors could not have known personally all the 600 members of the senate” (Birley 1981, 3). Perhaps one of the reasons of mighty position of Imperium Romanum, especially in the second century A.D. in the so-called “golden era of Antonines”, was the efficiency of its administration and armed forces. Especially during the reign and wars of Marcus Aurelius “inevitably, a corps of military men with wide experience developed in the process, men whose specialist knowledge and experience was very valuable. The careers of such men were almost exclusively military, involving only brief experience of civilian government posts” (Southern 2001, 19). Some of them spent most of their official career (cursus honorum) in active service, mostly in distant provinces of the Roman Empire: P.Helvius Pertinax – 21 years in active service, Sex.Iulius Severus – 21, M.Statius Priscus – 15 years (Birley 2000, 111). All three persons took more than one post each in the Lower Danube “high command”. Publius Helvius Pertinax served as legatus legionis I Adiutricis (ca. 171 A.D.) and then governed in succession both Moesian provinces and Dacia (ca. 176-179 A.D.). Sextus Iulius Severus (or rather Cn. Minicius Faustinus Sex. Iulius Severus) served as legatus legionis 279

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XIIII Geminae (ca. 118-119 A.D.) and received governorships of Dacia Superior (ca. 120-126 A.D.) and Moesia Inferior (ca. 128-130 A.D.). He moved from one corner of the Empire to another as only the military crisis emerged Marcus Statius Priscus Licinius Italicus served as legatus legionis XIII Geminae, legatus legionis XIIII Geminae (ca. 155 A.D.) and governed the province of Dacia (ca. 156-158 A.D.) and Moesia superior (161 A.D.) (Żyromski 1995 b, 105, 110, 116). Such the difficult and long service in the Roman provincial administration was certainly very tired. And so, nothing strange that already emperor Hadrian created some posts in the imperial administration, which were in the capital of Rome and can be treated as the kind of “paid leave” for such the “military men” (for instance aerarium Saturni, curator operum publicorum) (Syme 1985, 265). During their military service such the “military men” quite often received the military decorations (dona militaria) – however, rather not for their own bravery but rather for the bravery of their legions. Afterwards, they could received the highest posts in the Roman imperial administration (proconsul provinciae Africae/Asiae, praefectus urbi, consul iterum) (Żyromski 1996). Besides, it is interesting that such the persons very intensively employed in the military and administrative service descended only exceptional from the old patrician or consular families On the contrary – “consular legates of military provinces were more often than not from relatively new families” (Birley 2000, 117). And so, the successful and distinguished service in the important, border regions of the Roman Empire could be viewed also as the factor of social mobility (Żyromski 2001). Such was the case of all three above-mentioned “military men”. “M.Statius Priscus Licinius Italicus performed two posts (included in the quartae militiae equestre) under the command of Cn. Minicius Faustinus Sex. Iulius Severus. Besides, he gained the military decorations in Hadrian’s Jewish War” (Żyromski 1995b, 62). And so, the military predispositions were closely connected with support of the superior officer or administrator. Arthur Birley presented the list of “senators who hold more than 2 consular military commands” – there were 29 such the “military men” of which 20 belonged to the Lower Danube “high command” (Birley 2000, 111-113). Undoubtedly, some persons were very frequently employed on the important positions, mainly as 280

legionary commanders and provincial governors, but also as the Task Forces’ (vexillationes) commanders in the border, military provinces of the Roman Empire (especially on Lower Danube). Thanks to their military abilities they often obtained the military decorations and finished their cursus honorum on the highest positions in the Roman imperial administration (though they were almost exclusively hominess novi). And so, certainly some kind of specialization in Imperium Romanum existed (Żyromski 1991, Żyromski 1994, Żyromski 1995a). Certainly, there was only exceptional the specialization within one province only. As it was said above, the legionary legate never served in the same legion, in which he previously performed the office of military tribune. Undoubtedly, the question of specialization could be presented rather in terms of whole provincial complexes, such as Rhine, Eastern or especially Lower Danube provinces of the Roman Empire. “Specialization within single province like that of Agricola in Britain must have been rather rare during the Principate […] Whereas the normal technique was military rotation, as now in modern armies, specialization within larger provincial areas was always possible” (Sherk 1971, 120). On the other hand, Robert Sherk who (perhaps as the first scholar) pointed out the question of specialization, wrote that “Because of the organizational structure of the Principate it was inevitable that the officers responsible for the efficiency of the Roman armed forces and the various government bureaus would rotate from one post to another” (Sherk 1971, 110). The question of specialization is especially visible during the many wars in the second century A.D., because “the growth of specialization in the army made for a greater professionalism” (Southern 2001, 20). On the other hand some scholars do not see the question of specialization even in the case of equestrian order “The careers and promotion of equites do not admit of patterns or schemes of promotion and tell against specialization in Roman imperial administration” (Campbell 1984, 331). Undoubtedly, the employment of equestrians in the Roman imperial army and administration can be also analyzed in terms of patronage and specialization. “First appointments, whether as prefect of a cohort or as ‘tribunus angusticlavius’, were normally due to the patronage” (Birley 1988, 105). Also in the opinion of R.P. Saller “equestri-

M. Żyromski, The patterns of promotion within the roman army and administration

an militiae were assumed to constitute patronal resources to be dispensed first to protégés and then to friends of friends” (Saller 1982, 132). On the other hand, as it seems, the patronage and personal relations were important on the initial stages of the equestrian career, only. Afterwards, the equestrian officer had to distinguished himself to secure future promotion. „If an initial recommendation secured a first appointment, still more must a man’s promotion have depended on the confidential reports by superior officers” (Birley 1953a, 142). And so, Eric Birley opposed the hypothesis claiming that the equestrian officers were amateurs. The equestrian military posts were combined in the so-called “militiae” (quartae militiae equestres). “The militiae are in fact grades in the service and not individual appointments – and that explains why 4 is the highest number ever specified, even though in some cases as many as half a dozen successive appointments are attested” (Birley 1953a, 150) The tres militiae lasted together at about ten years but starting with the reign of Hadrian ala milliaria appears as militia quarta; Nevertheless, only very few people could count on such the promotion – statistically speaking only at about 3-4% of persons who started career on militia prima could get the militia quarta. In the middle of the 2nd century A.D. the equestrian military hierarchy was as follows:

at about 300 praefecti cohortis quingenariae/tribuni .cohortis voluntariorum; ca. 190 tribuni angusticlavii legionis/tribuni cohortis milliariae; ca. 90 praefecti alae quingenariae; ca. 10 praefecti alae milliariae (Devijver 1995, 183; Devijver 1987, 108). And so, “an equestrian officer automatically reverted to civilian status as soon as his successor arrived to take over from him” (Birley 1988, 110). Undoubtedly, the military abilities and/or experience formed only part of the necessary conditions for obtaining the post within militiae equestres. “Desirable qualities in an equestrian officer, from the perspective of an army commander, included no doubt, trustworthiness and reliability – but it could be anachronistic to use labels like ‘amateur’. Military academics did not exist. Equestrian officers were mostly landowners” – experience in management, command or law; “Army commanders were themselves mostly cultivated men. Away from Rome, they would appreciate having congenial types to entertain them when they toured their province and at their table at headquarters. Hence the emphasis on culture in the letters of recommendation by Pliny and Fronto” (Birley 2003, 5).

Birley 1953a: E. Birley, The Equestrian Officers of the Roman Army. In: E. Birley, Roman Britain and the Roman Army. Collected Papers (Kendal 1953), 133-153. Birley 1953b: E. Birley, Roman Britain and the Roman Army. Collected Papers (Kendal 1953). Birley 1956: E. Birley, The Epigraphy of the Roman Army. In: Actes du Deuxieme Congres International d’Epigraphie Grecque et Latin Paris 1952 (Paris 1956), 226-238. Birley 1981: A.R. Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain (Oxford 1981). Birley 1988: E. Birley, Promotions and transfers in the Roman Army: senatorial and equestrian officers, 93 – 114 (=Carnuntum Jahrbuch 1957, 3-20). In: E. Birley, The Roman Army Papers 1929-1985, Mavors vol. IV (Amsterdam 1988). Birley 2000: A.R. Birley, Senators as Generals. In: (Hrsg. G. Alföldy, B. Dobson, W. Eck) Kaiser, Heer und Gesellschaft in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Gedankschrift für Eric Birley (Stuttgart 2000), 97-119. Birley 2003: A.R.Birley, The commissioning of equestrian officers. In: (Ed. J.J. Wilkes) Documenting the Roman Army. Essays in honour of Margaret Roxan (London 2003), 1-18. Birley 1988: E. Birley, Promotions and transfers in the Roman Army: senatorial and equestrian officers, Carnuntum Jahrbuch 1957, pp. 3-20), reprinted in: E. Birley, The Roman Army Papers 1929-1985, Mavors, vol. IV (Amsterdam 1988), 93-114. Burton 1990: G. Burton, Government and the provinces. In: (Ed. J.Wacher) The Roman World (London and New York 1990). Campbell 1975: B. Campbell, Who were the “viri militares”. JRS 65, 1975, 11-31. Campbell 1984: J.B. Campbell, The Emperor and the Roman Army 31 B.C.- A.D. 235 (Oxford 1984). Campbell 1994: B. Campbell, The Roman Army 31 B.C.- A.D.337. A Sourcebook (London and New York 1994).


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Campbell 2002: B. Campbell, War and Society in Imperial Rome 31B.C.- A.D.284 (London and New York 2002). Devijver 1987: H. Devijver, La Prosopographia Militarium Equestrium. Contribution a l’histoire sociale et economique au Principat. In: (Ed. T. Hackens, P. Marchett) Histoire economique de l’Antiquite (Louvain-laNeuve 1987), 107-122. Devijver 1995: H. Devijver, Les milices equestres et la hierarchie militaire. In: (Ed. Y.Le Bohec) La hierarchie (Rangordnung) de l’Armee romaine sous le Haut – Empire (Paris 1995), 175-191. Devijver 1998: H. Devijver, Commanders and officers of legio IIII Scythica. In: (Ed. D. Kennedy) The twin towns of Zeugma on the Euphrates. Rescue works and historical studies, Portsmouth RI 1998 (JRA suppl. series 27), 204-232. Dobson 1993a: B. Dobson, The ‘Rangordnung’ of the Roman Army. In: D.J. Breeze, B. Dobson, Roman officers and frontiers. Mavors X (Stuttgart 1993). Dobson 1993b: B. Dobson, The Roman Army: Wartime or Peacetime Army? In: D.J. Breeze, B. Dobson, Roman officers and frontiers. Mavors X (Stuttgart 1993). Dobson 1970: B. Dobson, The centurionate and social mobility during the principate. In: (Ed. C. Nicolet) Recherches sur les structures socials dans l’antiquite classique (Paris 1970), 99-116. Ferrill 1986: A. Ferrill, The Fall of the Roman Empire. The military explanation (London 1986). Isaac 1990: B. Isaac, The limits of empire. The Roman Army in the East. (Oxford 1990). Mattern 1999: S.P. Mattern, Rome and the Enemy. Imperial Strategy in the Principate (Berkeley 1999). Saller 1980: R.P. Saller, Promotion and Patronage in Equestrian Careers. JRS 70, 1980, 44-63. Saller 1982: R.P. Saller, Personal Patronage under the Early Empire (Cambridge 1982). Sherk 1971: R. Sherk, Specialization in the provinces of Germany. Historia 20, 1971, 110-121. Southern 2001: P. Southern, The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine (London 2001). Syme 1984: R. Syme, Governors dying in Syria. ZPE 41, 1981, 125-144; reprinted in: R. Syme, Roman Papers, vol. 3 (Oxford 1984), 1376-1392. Syme 1985: R. Syme, Curtailed Tenures of Consular legates. ZPE 59, 1985, 265-279. Syme 1988a: R. Syme, Praesens the Friend of Hadrian. In: Studia in Honorem Iiro Kajanto, Arctos Suppl. II, 1985, 273-291; reprinted in: (Ed. A.R. Birley) Roman Papers, vol. V (Oxford 1988), 563-578. Syme 1988b: R. Syme, The career of Arrian = HSCPh 86, 1982, 181-211. In: (Ed. A.R. Birley) R. Syme, Roman Papers, vol. IV (Oxford 1988), 21-49. Żyromski 1991: M. Żyromski, Specialization in the Roman provinces of Moesia. Athenaeum (Pavia) 79, 1991, 59-102. Żyromski 1994: Specialization – the hidden feature of the Roman provincial administration, „Pomoerium” (Bochum) 1, 1994, 63-68. Żyromski 1995a: The question of specialization in the Roman administrative system – the case of Pannonia. Eos LXXXIII, 1995, 337-353. Żyromski 1995b: M. Żyromski, The Elite in the Lower Danube Provinces of the Roman Empire (Mosina 1995). Żyromski 1996: M. Żyromski, The dona militaria as factor of senatorial career in the Roman Empire during the Principate. Eos LXXXIV, 1996, 115-136. Żyromski 2001: M. Żyromski, Some patterns of senatorial vertical social mobility in the Early Roman Empire. Eos LXXXVIII, 2001, 87-94.

Metode de promovare în cadrul armatei şi administraţiei romane – patronatul faţă de experienţă şi specializare
Rezumat În acest articol au fost prezentate metodele de promovare în cadrul armatei şi administraţiei romane, avându-se la bază relaţia dintre două noţiuni: experienţa şi specializarea pe de o parte şi patronatul pe de alta parte. Cele mai multe informaţii cu privire la carierele oficialilor şi ofiţerilor romani pot fi obţinute din inscripţiile despre carieră (cursus honorum). Cu toate acestea, stabilirea motivelor pentru promovare din inscripţii este foarte dificilă, întrucât sunt prezentate doar posturile consecutive din armata şi administraţia romana. Totuşi, se pare ca în regiunile de frontieră ale Imperiului Roman experienţa şi specializarea erau mai importante decât patronatul. Acest lucru este valabil, în mod special, pentru provinciile de la Dunărea de Jos.


M. Żyromski, The patterns of promotion within the roman army and administration

Методы продвижения в римской армии и администрации – протекционизм против опытности и специализации
Резюме В данной статье рассмотрены методы продвижения по службе в римской армии и администрации исходя из двух основных понятий: с одной стороны это опытность и специализация, а с другой – протекционизм. Больше всего информаций о карьере римских чиновников и офицеров встречаются в надписях о карьере (cursus honorum). Но, несмотря на это, установление истинных мотивов продвижения встречает значительные затруднения, поскольку эти надписи содержат только последовательность должностей в римской администрации и армии. Исходя из некоторых данных, можно считать, что в приграничных регионах, все же главенствующею роль играют опытность и умение. Особенно это прослеживается в нижнедунайских провинциях.

Dr. Marek Żyromski, Poznań University, Szamarzewskiego 89a, Poznań 60-567, Poland, e-mail:


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