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Importance of Careful Measurement

This is the kind of mistake which above all others reflects discredit on the commanders. For what can be more culpable than to arrive at a town which they mean to carry, in an entirely unprovided state, without having taken the precaution of measuring walls, cliffs, and the like, by which they intend to effect their entrance? Or again, while satisfying themselves as to these measurements, to entrust the construction of ladders and all such machinery, which, though taking little time to make, have to stand the test of a very critical service, without consideration, and to incompetent persons,—is not this deserving of censure? For in such actions it is not a question of succeeding or failing without ill consequences; but failure is followed by positive damage in manifold respects: danger to the bravest of the men at the actual time, and still greater danger during their retreat, when they have once incurred the contempt of the enemy. The examples of such disasters are numerous; for you will find that of those who have failed in such attempts, many more have perished, or have been reduced to the last extremity of danger, than have come off scatheless. Moreover, no one can deny that they arouse distrust and hatred against themselves for the future, and give all men warning to be on their guard. For it is not only the persons attacked, but all who know what has happened, who are thereby bidden to look out for themselves and be on the watch. Wherefore it is never right for men in places of trust to conduct such enterprises inconsiderately. The method also of taking such measurements, and constructing machines of this kind, is easy and liable to no mistakes, if they are taken in hand scientifically.

For the present, however, I must resume the thread of my narrative; but I shall take another fitting opportunity in the course of my work to speak of these matters, and will endeavour to show how mistakes may best be avoided in such undertakings.

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MYGDO´NIA
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