Friday, July 22, 2005

Today's Word: Pyrrhic

Pyrrhic is a term that is particularly applicable in times of war! Its use is pertinent in many arenas though.

A pyrrhic victory is one where the cost outweighs the spoils! It is the mark of an egotistical leader - hell bent on the glory of triumph, without regard for whether triumph is necessary or beneficial.

The adjective comes from the Ancient Greek warlord Pyrrhus who, at the tender age of 26, sent tens of thousands of Greek soldiers to their deaths in relatively inconsequential forays against the Romans. Plutarch, that legendary moralist who served as one of the two Priests of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, is said to have remarked, "Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone."

The word came into common use in the English language in the mid 1800's and has since come to mean any conquest or achievement that is undermined through the very process of achievement.

In these turbulent times, we need to all take a step back from our daily battles - large and small - and give thought to whether we are being pyrrhic in our pursuits. In our fulfillment-driven society it's easy to overlook the fact that sometimes getting what we think we want may in fact bring greater and more substantial loss.

It's a deep concept! Thank goodness we have a word for it!



Blogger Mojo said...

Levity aside, I actually wrote a paper on this in a college Greek Lit class. The assignment was to take a greek myth and illuminate it's effect on another piece of Literature. I chose the story of Pyrrhus and it's inclusion in the Player's speech in Hamlet. Hamlet uses Pyrrhus, a fellow son unthinkingly avenging his father's death, as a sort of role model. Unfortunately Hamlet is too instrospective and sensitive to avenge his own father without a conscience. The interesting lesson is that life isn't as simple as some stories make it seem to be.

Don't watch too much TV!


Sorry, couldn't resist.

4:54 PM  

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