There, however, are some instances in which one may justly accuse Eratosthenes. There is a difference in dissecting limb by limb, or merely cutting off portions [indiscriminately], (for in the former you may only separate parts having a natural outline, and distinguished by a regular form; this the poet alludes to in the expression,
whereas in regard to the latter this is not the case,) and we may adopt with propriety either one or other of these plans according to the time and necessity. So in Geography, if you enter into every detail, you may sometimes be compelled to divide your territories into portions, so to speak, but it is a more preferable way to separate them into limbs, than into such chance pieces; for thus only you can define accurately particular points and boundaries, a thing so necessary to the geographer. When it can be done, the best way to define a country is by the rivers, mountains, or sea; also, where possible, by the nation or nations [who inhabit it], and by its size and configuration. However, in default of a geometrical definition, a simple and general description may be said always to answer the purpose. In regard to size, it is sufficient to state the greatest length and breadth; for example, that the habit- able earth is 70,000 stadia long, and that its breadth is scarcely half its length.2 And as to form, to compare a country to any geometrical or other well-known figure. For example, Sicily to a triangle, Spain to an ox-hide, or the Peloponnesus to a plane-leaf.3 The larger the territory to be divided, the more general also ought its divisions to be.
“ Cutting them limb from limb;1”Odyssey ix. 291; Iliad xxiv. 409