Sometimes in war, victory comes at devastating costs. Such was the case for King Pyrrhus of Epirus when he battled the Romans at Asculum in 279 BC. Although Pyrrhus was ultimately victorious, due to the sheer size of the Roman army Pyrrhus’ army suffered significant casualties (but still less than the Roman casualties). Pyrrhus’ forces had been so crippled that another assault by the Romans would have utterly crushed them and led to a massacre.
This led to Pyrrhus’ famous saying: “Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone”, implying that the cost of victory was so high that there is almost no gain. Such a victory is now called a Pyrrhic victory – a victory that is not really a victory.