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Apr 9, 2009
This week's theme
People who have more than one word coined after them

This week's words
ciceronian
maudlin
hermetic
Cadmean victory
pickwickian

Cadmus slaying the dragon
Cadmus slaying the dragon, painting by Hendrick Goltzius, Koldinghus Museum, Denmark

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Cadmean victory

PRONUNCIATION:
(kad-MEE-uhn VIK-tuh-ree)

MEANING:
noun: A victory won at as great a cost to the victor as to the vanquished.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Cadmus, a Phoenician prince in Greek mythology who introduced writing to the Greeks and founded the city of Thebes. Near the site where Cadmus was to build Thebes he encountered a dragon. Even though he managed to kill the dragon, only five of his comrades survived, with whom he founded the city. Other words coined after him are calamine (a pink powder used in skin lotions), from Latin calamina, from Greek kadmeia ge (Cadmean earth) and the name of the chemical element cadmium.
A similar eponym is Pyrrhic victory.

USAGE:
"In the real world, governed equally by the market and natural economies, humanity is in a final struggle with the rest of life. If it presses on, it will win a Cadmean victory, in which first the biosphere loses, then humanity."
Edward O. Wilson; The Future of Life; Knopf; 2002.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In youth we feel richer for every new illusion; in maturer years, for every one we lose. -Madame Anne Sophie Swetchine, mystic (1782-1857)

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