Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pyrrhic Victory

"Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone."
King Pyrrhus of Epirus

"Although it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
There's a kind of a sort of... cost.
There's a couple of things get... lost.
There are bridges you cross you didn't know you crossed until you crossed!
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn't thrill like you think it will
Still, Who couldn't be happier?
Because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true.
Well, isn't it?" 
 - Wicked; Thank Goodness

This is one of my favorite, most tragic concepts in all of life and fiction. It's found strongest in stories of anti-heroes, where a previously evil character suddenly finds himself in possession of everything he's been fighting for... and it's not what he expected. In retrospect Megamind had the perfect life. After he defeated his superhero nemesis he lost all purpose in his life. Dr. Horrible achieved his life time goal at the end of the film, but at a price he would have never paid if he had known what he was getting into. Suddenly their innocence, such as it was, is shattered.

"I've been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?" 
 - Rapunzel, Tangled

Pyrrhic Victory is possibly one of the worst things that could ever befall a warrior. It would be better to face defeat, then to win such a victory. How can you call it a victory to finally grasp your crown... alone? How can it be worth the cost to destroy your enemy, and discover that he was your friend?

"You may win this war, Commander, but I promise you, by the time it's over, you will have lost so many ships, so many lives, that your 'victory' will taste as bitter as defeat." 
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - What You Leave Behind

In the bible we are commanded to give up everything and to follow, to earn a treasure that moth and rust will not corrupt nor thieves break in and steal. Pyrrhic Victory is the inverse of this, give up that treasure, to gain everything on earth. Regardless of your religion, the principle is the same. Is the world worth the weight of your soul? Is your pride worth everything you've ever loved?

What do you do when your dreams come true?

"Here lies everything,
The world I wanted, at my feet.
My victory's complete.
So hail to the king.
And I won't feel a thing.
So your world's benign
So you think Justice has a voice
And we all have a choice
Well, now your world is mine...
and I am fine!"

1 comment:

  1. Demons run
    when a good man goes to war.
    Night will fall and drown the sun
    when a good man goes to war.
    Friendship dies and true love lies
    Night will fall and the dark will rise
    when a good man goes to war
    Demons run but count the cost
    The battle's won but the child is lost...

    Or Davros' speech in Journey's End, about how the Doctor turns people into weapons.