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a.1.Of or pertaining to Cadmus, a fabulous prince of Thebes, who was said to have introduced into Greece the sixteen simple letters of the alphabet - Cadmean letters.
Cadmean victory
a victory that damages the victors as much as the vanquished; probably referring to the battle in which the soldiers who sprang from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus slew each other. Similar to a Pyhrric victory.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
References in classic literature ?
When they had got as far the deep-meadowed and rush-grown banks of the Aesopus, the Achaeans sent Tydeus as their envoy, and he found the Cadmeans gathered in great numbers to a banquet in the house of Eteocles.
Her did Pegasus and noble Bellerophon slay; but Echidna was subject in love to Orthus and brought forth the deadly Sphinx which destroyed the Cadmeans, and the Nemean lion, which Hera, the good wife of Zeus, brought up and made to haunt the hills of Nemea, a plague to men.
(310) This courtly adage translates into something like, "Let us have the spoils of the fountain of Salmacis without blood or sweat, rather than a Cadmean victory, where destruction surprises the victors." Such an attitude produces whiteness and a "cloister'd vertue," Milton understands, but it is "a blank vertue, not pure; her whiteness is but an excrementall whiteness" (Areopagitica, 2:515-16).