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Cadmean Victory

(Greek, Kadmeia nike; Latin, Cadmea Victoria). A victory purchased with great loss. The allusion is to the armed men who sprang out of the ground from the teeth of the dragon sown by Cadmus. These men fell foul of each other, and only five of them escaped death.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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