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Pyrrhic [PIR ik] victory
Greek > Latin: a reference to Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, Greece.

King Pyrrhus (c. 318-272 B.C.) ruled over Epirus, a Greek province, during the years of 307-272 B.C. He invaded Italy and defeated the Roman army at Heraclea in 280 B.C. and Asculum in 279 B.C., but at such great costs that he is said to have remarked, "One more such victory and we are lost." Other versions of his significant words are, "One more victory and I am undone," and "Another such victory and I must return to Epirus alone."

Pyrrhus went to Italy with 25,000 troops two years before when Tarentum asked him to help organize resistance against the Romans, but after Asculum and several other battles, he returned to the kingdom of Epirus in northwest Greece with only 8,000 men.

In 275 B.C., he fought against the Romans again, but he was defeated by the consul Curius Dentatus near Beneventum. He was then forced to abandon Italy and return to Epirus, where he engaged in war with Antigonus II Gonatas, King of Macedonia, then he invaded the Peloponnese, where he failed to capture Sparta.

Although a great warrior and a second cousin of Alexander the Great, he never lived to revive Alexander's empire as he had hoped. Pyrrhus died in 272 B.C. at the age of 46, during a night skirmish in a street ("street fight") in Argos where he was fatally struck by a tile that fell from a roof. His name is primarily remembered by the phrase Pyrrhic victory; which now means, "a victory in which the losses are so great and ruinous that it is no victory at all".