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(pĭr`əs), c.318–272 B.C., Molossian king of Epirus. He fought at Ipsus in Asia Minor in the service of Demetrius Poliorcetes (later Demetrius IDemetrius I
(Demetrius Poliorcetes) , c.337–283 B.C., king of Macedon. The son of Antigonus I, he proved himself a very able commander in his father's wars, particularly against Ptolemy I. Though Ptolemy defeated him at Gaza in 312 B.C.
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) of Macedon, and by the aid of Ptolemy I he became (297 B.C.) joint king of Epirus with Neoptolemus. He removed (295) Neoptolemus from the throne, but before his kingdom was consolidated he went to war with Demetrius (291–286); Pyrrhus obtained half of Macedonia and Thessaly but was driven back (c.286) by LysimachusLysimachus
, c.355–281 B.C., Thessalian general of Alexander the Great. He was a commander in Alexander's fleet on the Hydaspes as well as his bodyguard. On Alexander's death (323 B.C.) Lysimachus took control of Thrace. He joined (314 B.C.
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. He then went to S Italy with a large force to aid the Tarentines and defeated (280) the Romans at Heraclea. In the same year Pyrrhus' peace proposals were rejected by the Romans. In 279 he again defeated the Romans at Asculum in Apulia. His heavy losses caused him to declare, "one more such victory and I am lost," thus the origin of the term "Pyrrhic victory." At Beneventum (now Benevento) he was barely defeated (275) by the Romans. He again attempted to conquer Macedon, defeating (273) Antigonus II. Turning his attention suddenly to the Peloponnesus, he failed to take Sparta by siege. He then fled to Argos, where he was killed by a mob in the street. He accomplished nothing beyond bringing Epirus to ruin.


in Greek legend: see NeoptolemusNeoptolemus
, in Greek legend, son of Achilles. In the Trojan War he proved himself brave but cruel. He killed Priam at the altar of Zeus and threw Astyanax, son of Hector, from the wall of Troy. After the war he took Andromache as a slave to his kingdom in Epirus.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Born 319 B.C.; died 273 B.C. King of Epirus from 307 to 302 and 296 to 273 B.C. Military leader of the Hellenistic age.

In 302 B.C., after being deprived of power as a result of an uprising by the local tribes of Molossians, Pyrrhus went to Demetrius I Poliorcetes and fought at his side in 301. In 296, after seizing power again in Epirus, he annexed the islands of Corcyra (Corfu) and Leucas (Levkas), the provinces of Acarnania and Ambracia, and other territories in Greece. For seven months in 287, Pyrrhus held sway over Macedonia. In 280, during the war between the city of Tarentum and Rome, he sided with Tarentum in the battle of Heraclea in southern Italy. His army of mercenaries inflicted a defeat on the Romans. In 279, Pyrrhus again routed the Romans at the city of Ausculum but suffered enormous losses. It is from this event that the term “Pyrrhic victory” is derived.

In 278, in alliance with the Syracusans, Pyrrhus advanced against the Sicilian Carthaginians, who at the time were allies of Rome. However, because of the Sicilian population’s dissatisfaction with his requisitions policy, Pyrrhus was compelled to leave Syracuse. In 276 he returned to Italy. In 275, Pyrrhus’ army was completely routed by the Romans at Beneventum. Pyrrhus himself fled to Tarentum and then to Epirus.


Hassel, U. Pyrrhus. Munich, 1947.
Nenci, G. Pirro. Turin, 1953.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


319--272 bc, king of Epirus (306--272). He invaded Italy but was ultimately defeated by the Romans (275 bc)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Cahaignes termine cette premiere section de quatorze vers sur une declamation triomphale de Pyrrhus qui croit voir s'eteindre la race de Priam.
The author, who is not named, gives to the princes the same advice Cyneas gave to Pyrrhus, to prefer their rest and comfort to their ambition, and proposes at the same time [...] a common court.
Then from the navel to the throat at once [Pyrrhus] ripp'd old Priam; at whose latter gasp Jove's marble statue gan to bend the brow, As loathing Pyrrhus for this wicked act.
(22) Furthermore, because of Andromache's own lost motherhood (even though she has a child by Pyrrhus), she denies that role to Helen.
Aspects of this pontifical glorification include a comparison with previous rulers, especially Roman emperors such as Julius Caesar, Augustus, Pyrrhus, Numa Pompilius, Trajan, and Vespasian, as well as Alexander the Great of Greece.
After Proposition 103's tortuous trails through the initiative process, election and the courtroom, Rosenfield and Nader must feel like Epirus' King Pyrrhus after his victory over the Romans in 29 B.C.
According to the Greek partner representative, Pyrrhus Mercouris, the new mobile phone technologies will allow visitors to
The two Bassas, Haly and Cuproli, in Joseph Trapp's Abra-Mule (1704), are envious of Pyrrhus whom the Sultan has favored by promoting them to a higher position; each believes himself to be worthy of that position.
As Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, said in similar circumstances, one more such victory and we are undone.