In battle the carroccio was surrounded by the bravest warriors in the army and it served both as a rallying-point and as the palladium of the city's honour; its capture by the enemy was regarded as an irretrievable defeat and humiliation.
At the height of its glory sudden and irretrievable ruin fell upon the Order.
But even in this crowning triumph the cramping egotism of his nature - a mental vice which now grew on him rapidly - fatally narrowed his outlook and led him to commit an irretrievable blunder.
The Syracusans' work was destroyed by a prompt and well-executed attack; and a second counter-work carried across marshy ground some distance to the south of Epipolae and near to the Great Harbour was also demolished after a sharp action, in which Lamachus fell, an irretrievable loss.
The second act of the drama may be said to open with the irretrievable blunder of Nicias in letting the Spartan Gylippus first land in Sicily, and then march at the head of a small army, partly levied on the spot, across the island, and enter Syracuse by way of Epipolae, past Euryelus.
There is only one answer; the principal cause of this complete and irretrievable collapse is to be sought for in the folly, egotism and selfishness of the Polish gentry, whose insane dislike of all discipline, including even the salutary discipline of regular government, converted Poland into something very like a primitive tribal community at the very time when every European statesman, including the more enlightened of the Poles themselves, clearly recognized that the political future belonged to the strongly centralized monarchies, which were everywhere rising on the ruins of feudalism.