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Failures Arising From Ignorance

When Aratus, the Strategus of the Achaean league,
Aratus fails at Cynaetha.
attempted to take Cynaetha by treachery, he arranged a day with those in the town who were co-operating with him, on which he was to arrive on the banks of the river which flows past Cynaetha, and to remain there quietly with his forces: while the party inside the town about midday, when they got an opportunity, were to send out one of their men quietly, wrapped in a cloak, and order him to take his stand upon a tomb agreed upon in front of the city; the rest were to attack the officers who were accustomed to guard the gate while taking their siesta. This being done, the Achaeans were to rise from their ambush and to make all haste to occupy the gate. These arrangements made, and the time having come, Aratus arrived; and having concealed himself down by the river, waited there for the signal. But about an hour before noon, a man, whose profession it was to keep a fine kind of sheep near the town, wishing to ask some business question of the shepherd, came out of the gate with his cloak on, and standing upon the same tomb looked round to find the shepherd. Whereupon Aratus, thinking that the signal had been given, hurried with all his men as fast as he could towards the gate. But the gate being hurriedly closed by the guard, owing to no preparations having yet been made by the party in the town, the result was that Aratus not only failed in his attempt but was the cause of the worst misfortunes to his partisans. For being thus detected they were dragged forward and put to death. What is one to say was the cause of this catastrophe? Surely that the general arranged only for a single signal, and being then quite young had no experience of the accuracy secured by double signals and counter-signals. On so small a point in war does the success or failure of an operation turn.

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