Pyrrhus, c.318-272 B.C., Molossian king of Epirus. He fought at Ipsus in Asia Minor in the service of Demetrius Poliorcetes (later Demetrius I) 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 Lysimachus. 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 Macedonia, 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.
Pyrrhus, in Greek legend: see Neoptolemus.

(born 319—died 272 BC, Argos, Argolis) King of Hellenistic Epirus. After being allied to Demetrius and taken hostage, he was befriended by Ptolemy I Soter and restored to his kingdom. In 281 he was asked for help against Rome by the Greek enclave of Tarentum (Taranto) and won costly victories at Heraclea and Ausculum. Crossing to Sicily, he conquered most of the Punic territory, but the Greek Sicilians revolted against his despotism. He suffered serious losses on his return to Italy (275) but defeated Antigonus II Gonatas in Macedonia (274) and became king there. He died in a skirmish in Argos trying to help Sparta. His costly victories gave rise to the term “Pyrrhic victory.”

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Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos Πύῤῥος or Pyrros Πύρρος may refer to the following figures from Greek history and mythology:

Modern use

Other uses

  • Pyrrhus of Therme (late 6th/early 5th c. BC) earliest epigraphical evidence
  • Agathobulus FL Pyrrhus, a freedman whose name occurs in an inscription found at Pesaro

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