"They combined aspects of street gangs and political parties, taking positions on current issues, notably theological problems or claimants to the throne. They frequently tried to affect the policy of the emperors by shouting political demands between races. The imperial forces and guards in the city could not keep order without the cooperation of the circus factions which were in turn backed by the aristocratic families of the city; these included some families who believed they had a more rightful claim to the throne than Justinian.
In 531 some members of the Blues and Greens had been arrested for murder in connection with deaths that occurred during rioting after a recent chariot race. Relatively limited riots were not unknown at chariot races, similar to the football hooliganism that occasionally erupts after association football matches in modern times. The murderers were to be hanged, and most of them were. But on January 10, 532, two of them, a Blue and a Green, escaped and were taking refuge in the sanctuary of a church surrounded by an angry mob." wiki on Nika Riots
I have never before feared a political crisis that might cause the use of the US armed forces internally, but I do now.
The armed forces are watching the present chaos in the US between the revolutionary "Progressives" and the counter-revolutionary "Deplorables." Our versions of Belisarius, Narses and Mundus are calculating the odds of an eventual calming of the discord. They cannot think that the odds are very good.
Political war could easily lead to the real thing. pl