When a Violent Mob Stormed Rome’s Capitol

Over 2,000 Years Ago, a Losing Politician Incited His Followers to Riot. It Ended in Death, Destruction, and Civil War

A politician-incited, post-election riot at a Capitol, seeking to block the result of a peculiar voting system, is not news. Ancient Romans witnessed something very similar.

On December 9, 100 B.C., Romans assembled to vote for the two consuls who would serve as the Republic’s top magistrates for the coming year. The election promised to be momentous. Gaius Marius, the dominant political figure in the Roman Republic for the previous decade, was finishing his fifth consecutive consulship. Once an extraordinarily popular figure, Marius had only won his most recent consular term …