They were the wars that led to the term “Pyrrhic victory”.
It came from the wars fought by Pyrrhus, the King of Epirus. He was king of the Greek tribe, Molossians, from the royal house of Aeacid, later he became King of Epirus.
He was one of the strongest opponents of the early Roman Empire. To explain, this was when Rome was developing into a great empire and King Pyrrhus wanted to stop that expansion, which led him to fight Rome in what was known as “The Pyrrhic War”.
He was a skilled commander, who had a strong army that was fortified with elephants. As the Romans had never faced elephants before, King Pyrrhic scored several costly victories at Heraclea and Asculum.
Unfortunately, while he achieved these victories, he suffered colossal losses. So much so that after one battle he was heard to say, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”
You see, in these battles, he lost so many men that there were no more he could call up from home while at the same time his allies became unhappy at the losses, so stopped supporting him. The Romans, on the other hand, had at their disposal an immense army, allowing them to replenish their forces, even when they were depleted in multiple battles.
This is where the term Pyrrhic victory comes from, it is one when while winning, the victor inflicts such shattering damage on themselves that the victory is tantamount to defeat, this is what kept happening to King Pyrrhic.