Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A "Pyrrhic victory" is a victory which is only achieved with heavy losses, such that the overall situation becomes worse for the Pyrrhic victor than it was before battle commenced. Usually the phrase refers to a battle, but by analogy it can also mean any struggle.
The phrase alludes to King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Heraclea and Asculum in 279 BC, but with severe casualties of his own. Pyrrhus's famous statement "One more such victory and I am lost" led to the term "Pyrrhic victory" for any victory so costly as to be ruinous.
The French participation in World War I, or the British and Chinese participation in World War II could also be considered Pyrrhic victories. The gruesome French losses in WWI devastated French morale and could be considered to be one of the causes of the easy defeat of France in 1940. Britain was on the winning side in WWII, but was bankrupted and lost its extensive colonial empire.
Examples of Pyrrhic victories
- Battle of Bunker Hill
- Battle of Chosin Reservoir
- Battle of Crete
- Battle of Heraclea
- Battle of Verdun
- Battle of Isandlwana
- Battle of the Alamo
- Battle of York
- Battle of Thermopylae
- The Byzantine war against the Sassanids - both empires were left in ruins, and the Islamic Caliphate would later overrun all the Byzantine territories over which the war was fought. The Sassanid empire was crushed out of existence.
- Der sechste Abschnitt der frühen römischen Republik (German)
- A detailed description of the Pyrrhic War
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