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Pyrrhic victory

A victory that is so costly in terms of men and resources that it seems no different from losing. It comes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who was fighting against the Romans in the Pyrrhic Wars (c.280BCE). Pyrrhus is supposed to have said 'If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined' (Plutarch, Life of Pyrrhus, 21:8).