pyrrhic – A pyrrhic victory is one that is so costly that the victory might not have been worth winning.
This meaning comes from the experiences of Pyrrhus of Epirus in his wars with the Romans between 280 and 275 BC. Pyrrhus had won several battles with the Romans but at such a large cost in terms of men and support that a further ‘victory’ would have destroyed his army as was recounted by Plutarch. These victories caused Pyrrhus to alter his military strategy which eventually led to a shift in power to Rome in the Mediterranean.
This is the usual meaning of pyrrhic when used as an adjective as in pyrrhic victory. However when I was researching today’s word, I found that there is another much less well known meaning for pyrrhic when used as a noun. A pyrrhic is a metrical foot (unit of rhythmic structure) consisting of two short unaccented syllables. This is completely new to me but makes some sense from the origin of pyrrhic from Greek of pyrrhichios which was a type of dance (rhythmic).
Does anyone have examples of pyrrhic from poetry?